food allergen scanning devices

Posted on: Mon, 05/03/1999 - 3:15am
brenda's picture
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Joined: 01/22/1999 - 09:00

Thought everyone would find the following interesting:

DEFOREST, Wis. (AP) -- A team of Leeds Elementary School students has
won a national science contest by conceiving of a device to scan food
and food labels to warn people who have allergies about food they should
avoid.

Fourth- and fifth-graders Kallie Harrier, Anna Hagen, Amanda Treinen and
Teague Harvey won the honor for fourth through sixth graders in the 1999
ExploraVision contest sponsored by Toshiba and the National Science
Teachers Association.

The students are to travel with their families in June on an
all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where prizes will be awarded.
Each of the four team members is to receive a $10,000 savings bond.

The idea for the device stemmed from Kallie' s severe allergy to
peanuts.

The AllerScan would allow consumers to quickly scan grocerytore bar
codes to determine whether a food contains an offending ingredient. That
would require restructuring bar codes on all packaged foods to include
ingredients.

The device also would contain a small gas chromatograph and mass
spectrometer so restaurant customers could put samples of food on a
glass slide for analysis and then compare them to the allergy sufferer's
personal profile stored in the device' s microprocessor.

Leeds teacher Jeff Stern said he has encouraged the parents of his
students to get a patent on the proposed device.

"There are a couple of allergists who have seen their idea and are quite
enthusiastic about it," he said.

Dr. Don Buckstein, Kallie' s allergist, said he believes the grocery
store scanner idea "is incredibly marketable."

The gas chromatograph aspect of the proposed device might take time to
develop, but it would also be well received by the public, he predicted.

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