To trust the Nima Senor for peanuts or not to trust the Nima sensor? That my allergy friends is the question. Quite frankly I think it will be a question we will be asking ourselves a lot in the coming future as more allergen detectors hit the market.
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a Nima sensor after winning it this past November at the FABlogCon. With that win came an unexpected offer to chat with Shireen Yates the CEO of Nima! How could I refuse such a cool opportunity to talk to someone who knows the ins and outs and future of the Nima sensor and at home allergen detectors?
A Nima Sensor Sceptic
Like many allergy folks, I am a sceptic when it comes to trusting technology and allergy management. Especially when it is supposed to tell us something we have been using gut instinct and common sense to determine for the majority of our lives. How can I trust a small triangular machine to tell me if this is a safe food to eat? How can I put my life in the hands of the Nima Senor?
Well, as Shireen put it, the Nima is just giving you another data point in helping you determine whether something is safe to eat. It isn’t telling you yes or no and it is certainly not there to replace instinct and common sense.
Shireen and I discussed why there may be some push back with the Nima sensor when it comes to food allergies. Especially since it seems the gluten-free community has really embraced the technology. Why are allergy folks so hesitant? Well besides the fact that one wrong bite can send us into anaphylaxis.
It all comes back to how you would use the Nima Sensor in managing your allergy. Shireen explained that you can use the Nima to ‘take the first bite’ and then you decide how to process that data. The one thing I personally have to add is that you should never let it override your instinct. From my experience your gut feeling is the best test there is.
Using the Nima Peanut Sensor
So far I have only tried the Nima Sensor on a handful of foods since I had a limited number of test capsules. I decided to use them for experimental purposes than IRL purposes (this is also because I manage more than just a peanut allergy).
The first experiments were done with two other allergy gals, Amanda and Danielle, who were eager to help me try and trump the Nima Sensor. We did a run to Bulk Barn to grab items we were certain had traces of peanut. Our goal was to see if Nima would pick them up. You can check out our whole experiment in my Instagram Stories. The results didn’t really surprise us. But trying to figure out how to interpret them into a real-life situation was surprisingly tricky.
Case in point, one item we tested was a date, which was stored away from any nut products and had no ‘may contain’ statement. It came out clean. Here’s the catch, not one of us would normally eat food from a bulk store. So would this thumbs-up give us the confidence to eat the date? All three of us answered no. Something from deep down sent red flags saying not safe.
Should we override the 25 plus years of experience with a piece of tech? That’s the question that seems to continue to pop up.
So when does the Nima Sensor come in handy?
I’m still trying to work that out. I continued my experiments at a local ice cream shop that has no peanuts on the premises and will be sharing that with you in the coming weeks. Let’s just say it was full of even more surprises!
The Future of the Nima Sensor for Peanuts
All this uncertainty and the price tag on the Nima Sensor for peanuts doesn’t make it an item most folks jump on right away. But if you are curious to get your hands on one and give it a spin there are ways to get a subsidy from your insurance company (the US only).
And you know I had to ask Shireen about the price point. She acknowledges that it isn’t very accessible and that they are working to lower it. However, with all the tech inside the tester and capsules, it is a challenge and they would rather have a higher price than compromise the mechanisms that are in place for testing. Shireen compared the Nima Sensor to a mini-lab in your pocket, so in that context, you may not want it to be any cheaper at this time.
The future for the Nima sensor seems limitless. Shireen imagines a day when we would be able to get customizable capsules with multiple allergens and of course, that accuracy will get even better. There are still things you can’t test for peanuts like things containing tahini or tomato paste (more here).
For now, I am still undecided about how to use the Nima Sensor in my daily life. I will continue to play around with it and wrap my head around what this extra data point gives me.
Are you curious to know more? Let me know your questions!
P.S. If you really want to try out the Nima you can get $15 off by using code: allergygirleats. This works on any gluten sensor, peanut sensor, gluten sensor kit, peanut sensor kit.
Kortney is your typical atopic triad! She manages asthma, eczema, environmental and food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!