We live in a world where technology is more advanced than ever before. We are surrounded by devices and gadgets which are designed to give us information immediately in real-time.
Mobiles and portable devices, apps and intelligent sensors are constantly being developed to enhance the way we live and influence consumer buying decisions.
In the hospitality sector, this is having increasing influence on personal choices. Imagine carrying a device that can measure the calorific content of your food and/or detect specific ingredients and allergens within it.
Advances in food monitoring technology and the potential of these devices is considerable for the user, the food and drink sector and the hospitality industry.
This kind of technology has long been used in laboratories, but now handheld spectrometers are becoming accessible to consumers and food businesses. For those who are looking to count calories, app-powered gadgets have been designed to do just that. You scan the food, take a photo and the app will give you an estimate of its nutritional value.
Further equipment in development includes rapid, portable, food allergen and ingredient detection devices – NIMA Sensor and The Allergy Amulet. Users insert disposable test strips into their food and within minutes the reader alerts them to the presence or absence of target allergens and ingredients. Test results appear via a smartphone app designed to accompany the gadgets.
The concept of these devices is revolutionary, particularly for individuals with food intolerances and allergies, and could change the way in which many of us dine out in the future. The technology allows us to swiftly identify substances which can provoke food allergies and alert us to the safety of food before it is consumed.
Just how accurate are these devices?
Some scientists have questioned the accuracy of these devices, so it is important to emphasise that anyone with a serious allergy should not rely solely on them as they may not detect smaller nut fragments or minute traces of certain ingredients. There are serious concerns that these devices could lead to a false sense of security for those with allergies, which could result in life-threatening or fatal consequences.
If you have an allergy, you must always be extra vigilant and in a restaurant always ask staff about allergens in the dishes offered. The restaurant is legally obliged under The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) to provide information on the 14 most common allergens.
If you are buying pre-packed food the allergy information must be highlighted in the ingredients list. Even when ordering loose food or a takeaway the vendor must be able to provide you with information on the presence of the fourteen allergens, making it easier for consumers to make safer choices when buying food or eating out.
To find out Adrian Rogers, Senior Research Scientist, Romer Labs, thoughts on personal allergen testing devices – click here
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For further information on dealing with allergens within your business, or if you are a customer, contact our Advice Line or call us on 020 7244 1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org