It’s back-to-school time, which means my son is once again eating lunches in a cafeteria. I doubt his school is unique, but it actually has separate tables for kids who bring in peanut butter sandwiches. The idea being to separate, as much as possible, the kids with peanuts from the kids who are allergic to peanuts. But for kids with severe peanut allergies, there’s a new way to isolate that particular problem.
Starting today, concerned parents can purchase the Nima Peanut Sensor, which had up until now only been available for pre-order. This is the second commercial food sensor from Nima, which also makes the portable Gluten Sensor.
Unveiled in January of this year, the Nima Peanut Sensor is a two-part system consisting of a small, triangular sensor and a single-use capsule. If you want to see if packaged food or a meal at a restaurant is peanut-free, you place a pea-sized sample of it in the capsule, screw on the cap and insert it into the sensor. Results come back in under five minutes with either a peanut found message or a smiley face indicating the food is peanut-free.
Nima says its Peanut Sensor can detect 10 parts per million (ppm) of peanut protein with above 99.2 percent accuracy. (According to the company, results of third party accuracy testing can be found here, with additional validation information available here and here.)
In addition to the sensor, the other part of the Nima value proposition is the community. Through the accompanying Nima app, people can test and rate restaurant and packaged foods and share results. Users can then search the Nima community database by brand for packaged food and see a crowdsourced map of restaurants designated gluten or peanut-free.
Nima’s promised peace of mind isn’t cheap, however. The Nima Peanut Sensor, available through the Nima website and Amazon, costs $229.99, with a twelve-pack of test capsules running $72 (that drops to $59 if you do Nima’s subscription service).
Nima Co-Founder and CEO Shireen Yates told me in an interview that during this past year the company has seen that people buy the Gluten sensor for themselves, but buy the Peanut Sensor for their kids.
Elsewhere, my sharp-eyed colleague Ashley Daigneault noticed that her local CVS was selling the Nima Gluten sensor in stores. Yates confirmed with us the two have been running a small test in retail stores in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. The Nima Gluten Sensor retails at CVS for $229 for the sensor and $72 for the capsule pack.
If this retail test works out, it will open up a bit of a different market for Nima. Instead of getting customers who are actively looking for a food sensor, it could find an audience with people who didn’t know such sensors even existed.
Though expensive, the Nima Peanut Sensor can provide an additional layer of scrutiny for concerned parents sending their kids off to school.