Scientists and engineers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have created a device called an iTube and a corresponding smart phone app to help consumers test food for allergens, reports Science Today.
The iTube connects to a cell phone camera and, in combination with the app, runs a colorimetric assay test with the same level of sensitivity as a lab test.
The device is meant to help 8 percent of young children and 2 percent of adults who have life-threatening allergies to common food ingredients.
Research team leader Aydogan Ozca said the iTube fits into a pocket or purse, and weighs under 2 ounces.
The test, which takes about 20 minutes, involves grounding up a sample of food and placing it in a test tube with hot water. Different liquids are added to the sample, which must sit for 20 minutes before the iTube test.
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The iTube currently tests for the most common food allergens, including almonds, peanuts, eggs and gluten.