How to Check Your Restaurant Meal for Gluten

Easy to use device helps celiac sufferers

Is that dish at the restaurant really gluten-free? Here’s how you will be able to check your restaurant meals for the presence of gluten this fall.

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Gluten sensitivity is a real problem for roughly 1 out every 10 people in the U.S. because the use of gluten is ubiquitous in the home and at restaurants when eating out.

Gluten is a natural protein found in varying concentrations in many varieties of wheat, barley and rye. Not only does it help bread rise in the oven, but it is often used in sauces and many processed foods as a thickener. While gluten is typically normally broken down in the digestive system of approximately 90% of the population without any noticeable side effects, for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity it can result in an allergic reaction that can be the cause of multiple major health problems.

People who are allergic to gluten often experience:

• Abdominal pain
• Diarrhea
• Bloating
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Depression
• Difficulties with concentrating

The problem with gluten is that it presents to the gut as a foreign substance that then leads to an overreaction by the digestive system. In the worst case scenario with celiac disease, this overreaction destroys the villi lining the intestinal tract responsible for absorbing nutrients from digested food.

So what can you do to protect yourself from gluten? The good news is that a San Francisco startup is offering peace of mind (and gut) in the form of a portable food sensor called “NIMA” that can detect gluten in food.

Here’s a Reuters video about the device:

Easy to Use Device

So how easy is NIMA to use when at a restaurant? Very―taking only 2 minutes to let you know whether or not that dish is a potential gastric time bomb.

"Even when you go out and see these labeled menu items [gluten-free] you are still playing Russian roulette. There is still cross contamination, there is miscommunication, they may have missed the order, you just never know," says Shireen Yates, CEO of NIMA.

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According to the maker’s website:

Step 1: Insert a small bit of food into a disposable capsule.

Step 2: Screw the capsule’s lid to shut the capsule and grind the food at the same time.

Step 3: Wait briefly for the test reagent (antibodies) in the capsule to react with the food (gluten proteins) and then bind to the test strip.

Step 4: The test strip is then analyzed by sensors in the device after which a reading of a happy smile (no gluten with 98 percent accuracy) or flashing wheat symbol (gluten detected) is displayed as your results.

According to Ms. Yates, food sensors to detect peanuts and milk are still in development. But for now, consumers can order their gluten sensor device priced between $220 and $250 and expect delivery by this fall.

For more about gluten sensitivity, here is an informative article on how to take a Gluten Sensitivity Self-Test That Could Save Your Life.

References:

Reuters’ news― “Detecting food allergens on the go

Nimasensor.com

Image from Reuters video

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