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If you’ve got food allergies, you may soon be able to find allergens in food with your smart-phone!

FoodFacts.com knows firsthand how many people in our population are affected by food allergies. Peanuts, dairy, soy, dairy, wheat … the list goes on. It’s such a serious issue – especially for our children. And, we know that it’s entirely possible that foods you think are safe and do not contain your allergens can actually fool you in the worst possible way.

Today we read about a marvelous new piece of technology that we wanted to share with our community. Coming out of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied science is a new device called the iTube. This new technology attaches to a smart-phone and can detect allergens in food samples. It uses the phone’s camera and works with a smart-phone app that runs a test that actually boasts the same level of sensitivity as a common lab test. It’s pretty amazing.

Because food allergies can be life-threatening and because even though there are labeling laws regarding common food allergens, research into products like this one have been ongoing. Cross-contaminations can still occur during processing, manufacturing and transportation. The products that have been developed to date have been large and complicated, they haven’t been embraced at all. Using them in common settings has been burdensome and discouraged their use by consumers.

Understanding the need for an accurate product that would accomplish the same goals, the researchers set out to address these issues by creating a product that could easily work for the food allergic population. The iTube weighs just two ounces and is designed to test the allergen concentration of foods through a test called a colorimetric assay.

The user grinds up the food in question and mixes it in a test tube with hot water and a special solvent. After letting the mixture set for a few minutes, the user follows a procedure to ready the sample for testing. The sample is then measured for the concentration of the allergen through the iTube. The iTube and iTube app take the process one step further for users. Instead of just a yes or no regarding whether or not the allergen is present, it actually tells the user how much of that allergen is present.

While the product has been successfully tested, it isn’t yet available for consumers. But it does appear that it’s headed our way. FoodFacts.com will keep our community updated on the progress made in bringing it to market. We’d love for you to be among the first to know when you can try it for yourself! Meanwhile, you can read more here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121212205 920.htm

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