This Portable Device Can Test Your Meal for Gluten

by Daniel Barna

As any gluten-sensitive person will tell you, ordering food at a restaurant can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. One small menu miscue, one tiny oversight by a chef or a waiter and, well, a gastrointestinal apocalypse is all but inevitable.

But the days of living in fear might soon be over for celiac disease sufferers everywhere, thanks to a San Francisco–based startup and its new device that tests food for the presence of gluten. It’s called Nima, and according to Scott Sundvor, one of the founders of 6SensorLabs, the company behind the device, its purpose is to alleviate stress in the brain just as much as stress in the small intestine.

“A lot of people who have food issues get very stressed when they’re eating out, and they avoid eating out altogether,” Sundvor said. “Our product will really enable them to start going out again and start being more open in social settings.”

Since there is no current cure for celiac disease, which affects 1% of the American population, the only measures that can be taken by those afflicted are preventative. All they have to do now is put a small portion of their meal inside a capsule, place that capsule directly inside Nima’s sensor unit, and wait for a smiley face to declare the meal safe to eat.

Nima Sensor ( $199 ) ($179)

According to Sundvor, Nima can test virtually any food and deliver 99.5% accuracy, thanks to its pinpoint use of enzymes and antibodies that can zero in on the presence of gluten.

The main downside of the device is its inability to determine whether an entire meal is gluten free in just once test. In order to achieve that result, the user would have to individually test every component of a meal. Though it may be time-consuming, anyone with celiac will tell you that it’s probably worth the effort.

Starter units, which include the sensor and three capsules, currently retail for $199, while 12 refill capsules sell for $48 on a subscription basis.

“This is going to have a really big impact on people,” Sundvor said. “It will bring more transparency to food in general and help people with their dietary issues.”

Enhance your gluten-free diet with a copy of Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain cookbook, and let us know if you think Nima is a game-changer.

Explore: Gluten-free, nima, Food

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