It’s estimated that there are 32 million Americans with food allergies, which includes 5.6 million kids under the age of 18. Israeli startup SensoGenic wants to help those afflicted by allergies with its portable, handheld sensor that can detect allergens in food (h/t Israel21c).
SensoGenic has two parts, the base unit that holds the electronics and a disposable one-time use test pad. Users place a small sample of food into the test pad and insert it into the base unit. Here’s where things get all science-y: SensoGenic Founder and CEO, Alon Yasovsky, told me by phone that the system uses cellulose, which will bind to an allergen. It will then use an antibody to create a reaction, and the sensor detects the specific allergen on the cellulose. The test takes about three minutes and results are beamed to an app on a user’s smart phone. Yasovsky said it can detect allergen levels at 10 parts per million.
Right now, SensoGenic is focused on discovering eggs and peanuts in food, but the device could be used to detect all kinds of different allergens (soy, dairy, fish, etc.). SensoGenic is currently in the R&D phase and is building the first prototype to scale up for beta users. The company is targeting mass production in 2022, with the U.S. being its first market. When it becomes available, Yasovsky said the SensoGenic device itself will retail for $199 with tests costing about 95 cents a piece.
Having the flexibility to test for different allergens and at a price point to where you could run multiple tests affordably during a multi-course meal could be a game changer for those with food allergies. Right now, Nima makes gluten and peanut sensors that each retail for $229, with its one-time cartridge tests costing $6 a pop. Nima, however, is very much a real product already at scale that people can purchase today, and it will have three years to further develop and iterate its sensors before SensoGenic would even hit the market here in the U.S.
Thus far, SensoGenic has raised $720,000 from eHealth Ventures and the Isreal Innovation Authority. If SensoGenic works as promised hopefully it can raise more and scale quickly so kids and adults with food allergies can feel more confident about eating out.