food allergen scanning devices - Peanut Allergy Information

food allergen scanning devices

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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.