On the packaging of a food item you often see something like "may contain allergens or traces of nuts". How great it would be if you could detect allergens in your food yourself. Georgina Ross's thesis entitled ‘From sample to smartphone; consumer-operable analytical devices for multiplex allergen detection’ is a big step in the right direction.
Ross will receive her doctorate from Wageningen University & Research on Friday, March 12.
Strip test and apps
Ross's research is about the possibilities as a consumer to detect allergens with a smartphone. The researcher has developed a number of things for this: a device to liquefy the allergens from, for example, a biscuit, a strip test (comparable to a pregnancy test) to measure them, a small device for your smartphone to read the strips and a photo- plus video apps to properly assess the measurement.The dissertation describes, among other things, how to make the analysis of allergens user-friendly. When the method is ready for consumer use, it will be fast, affordable, sensitive and easy to implement. Several allergens can also be measured at the same time.
Ross's research brings the detection of allergens using your smartphone in combination with smart apps very close. It is expected that with current developments, consumers will be able to detect allergens themselves using this technique in 3 to 5 years.