According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six people every year experience food poisoning, and 128,000 of those people end up in the hospital because of it. Many food poisoning incidents are due to things like mislabeling, carcinogens and pesticides.

Soon, however, people will know exactly what they're putting in their mouths and when. While currently, only laboratories can scan food with a high level of accuracy to determine the chemicals inside the food, soon, we may be able to do just that with devices no bigger than our smartphones.

The technology is being created by 6SensorLabs, with the device being called the "Nima," a tiny chemistry lab that people can carry around in their pocket. Currently, the Nima can only detect gluten in foods, however, it can do so at a minuscule concentration, being able to detect as little as 20 parts per million, which is the threshold determined by the FDA as being "gluten-free."

Of course, the device does cost $250, along with $5 for each disposable reaction chamber, so it isn't something for those simply trying to cut down on gluten in their diet — instead it's made for those who suffer from celiac disease, a disease that causes people to be seriously ill if they consume gluten, which can happen when food isn't packaged properly or is mislabeled.

According to those at 6SensorLabs, however, eventually, the technology could be adapted for detecting all kinds of chemicals and proteins — including ones like salmonella.

Another, similar technology is being built by a company called Safe Catch, and it allows the company to offer what it says is the lowest mercury-contaminated canned tuna fish in the world. This is marketed toward people who need to consume as little mercury as possible — for example, pregnant women.

Last but not least is SCiO, which is able to identify chemical substances based on the light that they reflect. The sensor is very small and could eventually be incorporated into a smartphone. Of course, SCiO is only able to look at the surface of food, so it isn't as precise as other technologies, but it could detect food that is mislabeled.

All of these projects are still in their early days, but soon enough, we should have a much better idea of what we're eating.

Via: Wall Street Journal

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