When I went to journalism school (#alternativefact), I was taught to open an article with a question, draw the audience in, discuss my thoughts, and then at the end of the article, answer the question. But I’m going to reverse that school of thought and answer the question first.
So, should you buy the Nima Sensor, the product that tests for gluten and was released to the public yesterday? Well…it all depends on your expectations. Yeah…I know…lame answer. Let me explain.
About three months ago, the good folks at Nima sent me a Sensor to try out. At the time, I asked my wonderful community…yes that’s YOU…what you’d like me to test. I got responses. Lots and lots of responses. So did I run out to the store, buy a bunch of stuff for testing and get down to it?
Not because I wasn’t enticed. Simply because, as much as I believe in the product and the people behind it (I’ve met them…sincerely good, smart, passionate folks), I knew that testing one part of one food item (i.e. one Cheerio) did not mean the entire box of Cheerios was safe. And if I posted my results, that would tell the community that yes…Cheerios are indeed safe, when I don’t think they all are.
So the Nima Sensor sat on my book shelf. And sat. And sat. Then a few weeks ago, a saw an Instagram post from Nima Sensor that showed McDonald’s fries being tested and they came back gluten-free. I wrote about McDonald’s fries being gluten-free before and the risk is simply too high. I thought it sent a mixed message to the community, so I emailed the folks at Nima. Here’s how the conversation transpired:
For my testing, I was going to test Cheerios. But odds are, the box I test would pass. Does it mean they’re all safe? Not in my mind. And this holds true on a lot of foods out there. By me posting test results is saying that this food is ok and I can’t say that and firmly believe it.
So I am not going to use the Nima at this point and would be happy to send it back to you.
Nima: Thanks for the thoughtful response and perspective. It seems you are concerned with providing a false sense of security for folks if you test a sample of something that comes-up gluten-free and having users think that a certain product will always be gluten-free, relying on just a pea sized sample for all future decision making of eating a certain product or dish.
We are always striving to best position Nima to our users so it’s one additional data point to supplement what consumers are already doing for diligence when eating either packaged foods or restaurant dishes, and not a guarantee. In fact, we see users sometimes choosing to not eat food even when they get a smiley face because the response from waitstaff made them uncomfortable and untrusting about a particular dish. Sometimes we see Nima users eat the food despite the fact that they get a gluten found response. From the app data, we see that ~30% (Dude note: Holy sh*t!!) of tested gf labelled menu items have gluten, even for that one sample!
I think if you use the device, you can be in a great position to help us better position Nima to your community users to make sure they use it as one extra data point and not a decision.
I LOVED this honest response, and it’s why I stand so much behind their team. The Nima is just another tool in your toolbox and that is exactly how it should be approached. So I kept the Nima and gave it a shot. Here’s how it went down.
1) First, I had to decide what to test. I wanted to test something I knew wasn’t gluten-free first and then test something that was probably gluten-free. So off to the store and I got a box of Raising Bran (first ingredient: wheat flour) and a box of Honey Nut Cheerios (side note: it still makes my puke that the Celiac Disease Foundation has their logo on the box.)
2) I opened the package. Sleek, simple, beautiful. From the packaging to the product itself. It honestly reminds me of an Apple product. And considering it comes charged, I was ready to go.
3) First up, Raisin Bran. The test is very simple to do and being that I’m a tech geek, it was also VERY COOL. A small bit of Raisin Bran in the capsule, put the capsule in the Nima and wait. Takes about three minutes. The result? A picture tells a thousand words.
4) Next, I pulled one raisin out of the box of Raisin Bran to test. I was curious if it would pick up the wheat that surrounds the raisin itself in the box. Result? Gluten Found. Ok…I’m impressed.
5) Next up was the Honey Nut Cheerios. I had a feeling it would pass. And pass it did.
And at that…my little science experiment was over. Did I then proceed to have a bowl of Cheerios? Of course not. Their testing methods suck. Many in our community continue to get sick from them. And I still have nightmares about my visit to their facility.
So let’s recap:
Yes…I believe in the product and the people behind it.
No…I don’t think it should be used as the ONLY parameter if something is safe or not.
Yes…I think it’s totally cool and a step in the right direction.
No…I don’t think you should eat Cheerios.
SO DUDE, SHOULD I BUY IT? Your call my friends (and please turn your cap lock off!). And if you do, here’s the link and here’s a coupon for you: NimaDude. It will get you $10 off the Starter Kit.
Just remember, it’s a tool in your toolbox. Use it wisely.