This $40 keychain-size device can detect allergens in food

keychain-sized allergen tester

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School are working on a portable device that lets users test food for common allergens.

Called the integrated exogenous antigen testing system, or iEAT, the keychain-size device envisions a user putting a bit of food on the “antigen extraction device,” a single-use slide that does the necessary chemical deconstruction, and let it do its magic. Within 10 minutes, you get an answer whether any allergens are present, and if so, how much.

At the moment, the device can detect peanuts, hazelnuts, wheat, milk and eggs, but it could be configured to find other things as well, such as shellfish, pesticides and so on. The researchers tested it on a few restaurant items themselves and (surprisingly) found gluten in a “gluten-free” salad, and egg protein in beer.

The best part is the price — the iEAT supposedly costs $40, with antigen extraction devices selling separately, once the final product is released.

iEAT works

As for competing devices, we have seen the gluten-detecting Nima, and Ally which did lactose in its prototype phase.