Will This Gluten-Detector Become a Celiac's Best Friend?

test food for gluten

“Chuck! I got it! Take LIVE tuna fish, and FEED ’em mayonnaise!” (name the movie)

My brother and I are always talking business ideas. Some are grand. Many are inane. None have come to fruition (yet). One of the grand ideas my brother had was an app on your phone where you could just scan the food and it would tell you if it had any gluten in it or not. Pretty cool, right?

Well, we may not be there yet, but there is a product being developed that could be the next best thing for our community.

A startup company called 6SensorLabs is building a device that will allow people to quickly and easily check their foods for allergens. And the first allergen they are starting with is gluten. Yay us!!

And this is not some fly by night company that is simply trying to profit on the gluten-free trend. These folks are the real deal.

Why are they doing this? I’ll let them explain. The following is taken directly from their website.

Every day, people are becoming more aware and more concerned about what hidden things are in the food they’re eating. Our Founders have long struggled with Celiac Disease and various food allergies, and we’re tired of repeatedly wondering if our food is safe to eat.

Born out of MIT, our founding team decided to build a company to bring clarity and trust back to the dinner table. With our breakthrough technology, we’re creating a brand new product category that will enable anyone to quickly and discreetly detect minute traces of toxins in their food.

Our first product is a portable gluten sensor, allowing you to test your food before you eat it. Anywhere. At any time.

Are you getting just a tad excited yet? Is your pulse quickening? Are you jumping out of your seat? Should I switch to decaf??

As I’m sure you do, I had a number of questions for the founders. I reached out to them and they were gracious enough to grant me an interview. Here’s how it went down.

is there gluten in my foodGD: Tell me how you came up with the idea. When was the “AHA” moment and who had it?

6SL: Shireen was consistently getting sick from unintended gluten exposure when eating out. The idea popped into her mind when she was at a wedding and she asked the waitress if the appetizers were gluten-free. As a response, the waitress asked her how allergic she was to gluten and that’s when she really wanted the control to just sample a little portion of the delicious looking appetizer herself. The idea was born – why not just take a sample and test it yourself if it could be portable and fast enough?

GD: How did you get from Point A (“this is a really cool idea”) to Point B (“holy crap…this is really happening.”)

6SL: We had a tremendous amount of support at MIT (where the idea was flushed out and developed). Shireen was studying at MIT Sloan and took a number of classes focused on market research, surveying hundreds of gluten-free consumers who responded to questions such as, “would you want to test your food, how often do you want to test, how much would you be willing to pay?” The data was shocking: on average, gluten-free consumers said they got sick 1 out of 3 times eating outside of the home. The pain point was more staggering than both founders had anticipated. She was fortunate to meet co-founder Scott at MIT, and they both shared the same passion for helping people live healthier lives. Scott and Shireen were then accepted into the MIT Founder’s Skill Accelerator, a program that provided some capital, support and resources to launch your business over the summer of 2013. After that summer, both decided to forgo job offers to pursue the business and they moved to the West Coast to expand the team.

GD: This comes across as something out of science fiction. How exactly does it detect gluten and how accurate is it?

6SL: It shouldn’t be science fiction at all! It’s a chemistry-based test and accuracy and reliability are two of the top priorities that are guiding our development. There is a tremendous amount of development involved in providing a device that meet market needs. Early results prove levels that at least as accurate as what is available for food testing on the market, and we are optimizing the technology to further improve the accuracy across various foods.

scan-for-gluten-in-food
Yes, but can it core a apple?

GD: What is the step-by-step process for the person who wants to test their food?

6SL: You take a sample of something on your plate that you want to test and place it in a small, disposable capsule. You then put the capsule in a sensor and in a few minutes you will know if there is gluten in that sample you tested. You can then record your test result through a mobile app to share results of what you are testing with the rest of the community.

GD: You say eventually your device will be able to test for multiple food allergies. What made you start with gluten as the first allergy it will test for?

6SL: Gluten is a large and growing market. We appreciate that there is increased awareness at the restaurant level and food manufacturer level providing products that are “gluten-free” but this has also introduced a level of ambiguity and inconsistency in food preparation. For instance, let’s take the response that the waiter provided at the wedding I attended when I asked if something is gluten-free, and she said, “how allergic are you?.” This waitress has probably seen people ordering gluten-free menus eat bread before their meal. This ambiguity and inconsistency in consumer behavior I think has made it incredibly challenging for people who are adhering to gluten-free diets for health reasons to be confident when eating socially or eating in an unfamiliar eating environment. The growing market and changing market landscape made gluten the most obvious market.

GD: From what I’ve read, the device will cost about $150 and will be paired with a smart phone app that will allow you to store results and share them with others (very cool by the way). Is the $150 for the device the ONLY cost involved or are there additional parts that will need to be purchased in order to test a sample?

6SL: There will be a one-time fee for the sensor and then you will pay for a pack of disposable units that you can subscribe to monthly. You can select and change the monthly volume depending on your needs. We don’t feel comfortable sharing hard pricing data quite yet but know that we are driving to make this product as affordable and accessible as possible.

GD: Can it be tested on liquids or is it just solid food?

6SL: We are developing the product to be as robust as possible, planning to test both solid and liquid foods.

GD: Can I have one? 😉

6SL: When it’s available – yes!

————————————————————

This has huge potential. The question is…would I use it? Would I feel comfortable enough in a restaurant to whip this out and test my food? And if it comes back showing gluten, how would the restaurant react? Having worked many years in the restaurant business, I know many chefs can be quite fickle and I can see a percentage of them not giving two sh*ts what this device tells them. That being said, I am intrigued.

What do you say folks? 6SensorLabs would LOVE your feedback on this, as would I. Do you like it? Hate it? Is it missing something? Would you use it?

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117 thoughts on “Will This Gluten-Detector Become a Celiac's Best Friend?”

  1. I would say this will make us look like bigger weirdos than we do now. Complex, GF, change gloves, special plate, don’t look at any bread products while cooking…then whips out a portable lab on the table & tests each food until its cold to “make sure there is no gluten”. Not sure if waiters will slit their own wrists at this or will insist we need to put on this pretty white coat that ties in the back.
    While I get the need, I don’t want to spend $200 to look like a BIGGER weirdo eating out with friends. I’m also curious how it would detect wheat in a component ingredient or cross contaminant…stir fried rice is it going to pick up wheat from soy sauce residue on the wok?

    Dude, your brothers idea we look about as weird as the hippy that prays love into their food before eating. Friend whipping out a science project before eating even I would question sanity (need being valid or not)

    1. Keep in mind this will not just be for gluten but eventually for all allergens. I get your point and honestly, I’m not sure I would use it. Not because of how I would be perceived (I’m at an age where I don’t give a crap so much how people perceive me), but because I’m not sure the restaurant would care what my device said. That being said, I would not classify anyone as a weirdo who wanted to use it.

      1. I personally love this idea and I know my husband would be excited about the prospect of eating out with me again. I could care less how people see me, and I really don’t care if the restaurant cares either. If I test my food and it’s positive…I won’t eat. I am protecting myself at that point, I am not responsible for the restaurant and their attitude. I don’t even think I would say anything if it did test positive. I would to others on the app sure, but I’m not there to make a stink and babysit their ability to limit CC.

        1. I agree with Sarah. My only hypothetical resistance to using a product like this is being confronted with the truth and then not being able to eat anything. I imagine all the other guests I am with feeling uncertain, maybe mad, or uncomfortable eating any of their meal because of my meal being inedible. And the only part of the restaurant’s response I care about is if I would have to pay for a meal that tests positive. I’ve had very little luck getting my money back for supposed gluten free food that has made me ill.

          1. I don’t care what people think. I have been dreaming about this type of device since I was 8! I am 14, almost 15, and I care a lot about my image, but I am so desperate for this device, I would be super happy to use it. I would gladly pay 150 dollars for this but only if it works. And if my food tests positive? I would rather not eat it and feel awkward than eat it and be throwing up for the rest of the night

        2. I agree with Sarah too. I want my daughter to be able to eat with us – and she wants that too. I could care less what people think when we’re eating out. I suppose when she becomes a teenager she will care but hopefully this is out long before then. What a great idea! I prefer testing to projectile vomiting and unbearable stomach pains in my 5 yo!!!!

        3. I don’t care what people think. I have been dreaming about this type of device since I was 8! I am 14, almost 15, and I care a lot about my image, but I am so desperate for this device, I would be super happy to use it. I would gladly pay 150 dollars for this but only if it works.

      2. First, Thanks Gluten Dude for the work you are doing!

        I was only eating about in one restaurant at least once a week. I believed everyone knew me and cared. Boy was I wrong. I got served the wrong plate and took a bite.
        I immediately knew, ran to the restroom spit it out and ended up really sick. That was March 2014. I lost 6 pounds. Since I only weighed 90, it wasn’t good. I’m just now putting weight back on, but have had to do a modified version of the SCD and Paleo diets along with weekly Myers Cocktails at $75 each. I had developed leaky gut and multiple food sensitivities. I haven’t been willing to risk eating out since March 2014, so no travel, not that I felt well enough…
        What a difference a reliable testing device could make for people like me.

    2. I don’t care how weird I look…sorry but if that might save me from even one gluten coma…make it big and ugly and I’ll sit it right in the middle of my table…decorate it and do a dance around it. I don’t know why any of us should have to feel weird because we have a medical condition and have to make special accommodations to be well. You can look cool and be sick but I’ll go with weird and well any day. Normal is boring anyway.

    3. I’m guessing you are “gluten sensitive” and don’t have Celiac. Looking weird is not nearly as bad as being violently ill for hours, then feeling miserable for days.

    4. I agree with the many who say “bring on the weird!” Pre-diagnosis I didn’t exhibit “normal” celiac symptoms, and it was only when I started breaking bones that they tested me. I would much rather know what’s in my food, and have the choice not to eat it, if that is going to prevent damage to my body.

    5. Who cares what other people think? My eight year old daughter gets sick for days if she gets the tiniest amount of gluten. We rarely eat out and are wary of trying new places because it’s not worth it. I would use this everywhere and maybe if servers were aware the food was being tested they wouldn’t give me the eye-roll when I ask them to change gloves (Chipotle.)

  2. I for one am excited about the possibilities of this product. Like many celiacs, I get very sick if I am accidentally glutened. My hubbie and I love to eat out, but now we pretty much only eat at the handful of restaurants I feel I can trust because they know me, and my needs and historically have not gotten sick after eating at these establishments. However, even at said places, I become anxious eating out at all and always double check about each item being gluten free. Have tried eating at other places, and always call ahead, and double check with the servers, but still somehow mistakes were made, resulting in a horrible night of being ill followed by at least a month of feeling under the weather. So, if I had a way to accurately check any food ordered for gluten as a safe guard I would feel way less anxious about eating out, and would possibly be able to be a bit more adventurous and try some new places as well. I would wait for a few reviews by users and scientists first, confirming that it does work and is worth the cash. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!

    1. I would jump on this for sure. Eating out with a 3yo with gluten sensitivity is nerve racking. Shoot eating at family gatherings or just sending him to school is nerve racking. It would be nice to have an easy to use method to confirm what I am giving my child is safe for him to eat. I’d even be down with sending one of these to school with him when he gets to that age so that teachers, parent volunteers, or the school nurse have a consistent way to determine what is safe and what isn’t for him to eat.

    2. I have only felt truly safe eating out once- and my waiter said he and his son were celiac (restaurant is called From Across the Pond) the guy was the owner of the place and took care of me really well. I was feeling so relaxed.
      Being anxious about being glutened has caused incredible anxiety in my life. This would help SO MUCH.

  3. I’m in. Safety first. Whether it’s me quizzing them and still being anxious, or quizzing and then testing to know FOR SURE I can eat it safely- I’m all in. Bottom line, getting glutened does long term damage when you add it up. The cost seems reasonable when you spread that out over the number of times it would be used.

  4. The comment about the ambiguity of servers and restaurants offering gf menus struck a chord. This is so true. I hate to say it, but I went to Raízes in Greenpoint Brooklyn last week. They are wonderful people who take my celiac very seriously and offer a lot of naturally gf menu items (skirt steak with chimichurri… mmm. Yes I’m giving them a plug). I would still use this there.
    I’m even past the awkwardness of testing food at the table. Screw that. I’d rather test it there than find out the results the hard way.

  5. Holy Cow! I think it’s awesome. Diabetics need to check their levels before eating so what is so strange about checking for gluten? The only awkward part would be to either say something to wait staff or get up and leave the restaurant!?

  6. I would so use it, even if the restaurant didn’t care, i could take the meal home and give it to someone. I was out just last week, went through the discussion, and still got sick and had to miss 3 days work. I would love to be able to try new stuff, and i would love to be able to have a little more freedom when traveling. Who cares what i look like.

    on a side note, my town is getting a 100% gluten free restaurant (germantown, tn) and test it to see if it could become a franchise. I am very, very, excited. I wouldn’t need this device because there is no possibility of contamination.

    1. There’s ALWAYS the possibility of contamination. Even paragons of gluten freedom can have it slipped in on them somewhere in the supply chain.

      I would *jump* at the chance for this!!!

  7. I would DEFINITELY use this. During our trip to Mexico last year, I was constantly on edge about whether anyone understood what I was asking for when I requested ‘no gluten’. I had even printed out some Spanish phrases I thought would help me and toured the resort with the head chef, but was still leery about whether everyone was on board or not. Luckily, that resort was amazingly well organized and prepared to meet my needs and I didn’t get sick once! That’s a huge deal.

    Salad dressings instill fear in me and it would be nice to double-check. Sometimes I think food service folks respond ‘yes it’s fine’ because they want to be helpful and give you an answer, but they’re nowhere as well versed in what contains gluten as I am. They probably assume salad dressing and licorice would never have anything as weird as wheat in them!

    I have no weirdo fear factor at all towards this. I think it’s much weirder to chance an emergency bathroom trip than to do this subtle test at the table. It’s not like you have to pull out a microscope and test tubes. It looks small and unobtrusive. I’m in!

    1. Next time you’re traveling like that, print some “celiac restaurant cards”, which are available from a number of sources, some free and some at a small cost. Google that phrase to see what’s currently available. Many languages are available, including English. (I use index cards, print the English on one side and the other language, e.g., Spanish, on the other side. Worked well in Lisbon last year.)

      Now, as to which card is best for Spanish, or French, or whatever, those would be good questions for a forum, assuming we have some bi- or multilingual people here.

  8. I would absolutely use it!! Knowing that I can avoiding getting sick would be beyond awesome. I can’t wait until it’s available for peanuts, too, so my son can use it! Cost is a factor, though, so I hope they’re able to reduce the cost even further. So excited!!

  9. I’d buy one and use it for sure. It’s tough eating out, and I miss having the freedom to go more places in my hometown. (Ahh, New Orleans, the home of all things delicious.)

    If the waitstaff or BoH wants to judge me for checking to see if my food is safe, they can kiss the boniest part of my ass. I’ve mentioned before that my guy is a cook for a catering company, and he’d probably like to have one of these for the main kitchen to test the food that they’re marketing as gluten-free, vegan, etc.

    I haven’t tried any of the food he’s brought home out of paranoia, as my digestion is still slightly off from having my gallbladder out about a month ago.

    1. Exactly, restaurants should use it at their end to make sure they are giving you what they promised, GF food. That’s a huge market for this product.

  10. Well, at least we’ve gone from taking a dog to the restaurant to now a small device that looks like an air freshener. That’s progress. But I am very skeptical that this would even really work. I would never use this unless I was at a restaurant. And, if I had to send the food back because it had gluten I would most likely give the chef some other reason than, my air freshener told me that my food has gluten in it because that’s just crazy and who’s going to buy that? I don’t know, I honestly still am of the opinion that doing your homework, having good communication with the chef and knowing what foods do and do not contain gluten are the best means against getting glutened. Knowledge is still the best power.

    1. I’m with CD. I mean it sounds like a great tool for our own sanity but I think there would be far too many people using it as a tool to drive wait staff/chefs/restaurants crazy, much like the gf’fadders have given us such a horrible reputation by giving such mixed signals. I’m sorry but I truly believe that if you are going to eat any place other than at home where you have control (well even then I believe there are cross contaminations that are impossible to 100% control 100% of the time), then you should accept there may be an increased risk of cc. I know I’ll probably catch grief for saying that but I just don’t think we should expect from restaurants what we provide for ourselves. We have a serious disorder and yes, it would be great to be able to eat wherever and not worry but I don’t think it’s right to expect the rest of the world to cater to us. Just my two cents.

  11. Interesting. Um, I would sit next to someone who was using it. And hover over their shoulder. Then I’d want to test everyone elses meals until we got a positive for gluten. I wouldn’t even trust it until I saw a positive. I don’t think it would change our eating out habits, though (RARELY eat out). One of those ‘things that would be good to have but wouldn’t buy for myself’ kind of things.
    But come to think of it, it would be nice for business travel….hmmm.

  12. Absolutely, I’d use it! Maybe not at every meal out, but certainly when I’m trying a new restaurant or an unfamiliar dish. I’ve lost a lot of trust in restaurant staff since going GF two years ago and this might help to restore some of it (or on the flip side, make it worse). Either way, at least I would have the power to make an informed decision.

  13. My concern is this. We would have to order the food before we test it. Say it test positive. So now I have ordered food I can’t eat. So I just keep ordering until I find something safe? I don’t see it being practical when eating at a restraunt. However in other social gatherings where there is food…hell yes I would love to have one!

    1. People keep saying ” So now I have ordered food I can’t eat.” ….if there’s gluten in it and you eat it you’ll get sick. You have a plate full of food in front of you that you that may or may not have poison in it. Would you rather not know, eat it and be sick for who knows how long? I would rather know, without a doubt. That I should order my food and find out it wasn’t something I should have eaten would make me feel like I dodged a bullet….not like I missed out on a yummy meal.

  14. I’m not a weirdo (for the comment up there) but have been gluten-free for 18 years as a diagnosed Celiac. Those who eat gluten and have no control over their food in take should be called weird, perhaps. If it is proven, safe and inexpensive, sure I’ll use it . Otherwise I’ll keep eating gluten-free in a controlled environment, at home and at places I can trust and continue to gain a food education to make smart decisions in life that I can control.

  15. Well, a couple thoughts….

    #1: I don’t think this would actually work. It would test such a small portion of the food as to make it worthless. So what if the few grams of my meal I test are fine – that doesn’t tell me anything about the rest of the plate. Unless you want to puree all your food so as to mix it evenly and then test it, I don’t see how this device would be reliable.

    #2: not sure why you’re all on-board with this, but you were quite mocking of the woman w/the gluten detecting dog a few weeks ago. Why is one paranoid and weird, and the other isn’t? I thought it was all about communicating with the restaurant but this just sounds like it’s all about avoiding embarrassment.

    1. My own two cents…because one is a product developed by folks at MIT and the other is a dog. And I love dogs and yes, dogs are smart (well…not my dogs), but I don’t see the two being comparable.

      1. The dog can check it all. The plate, silverware, cup, straw, AND food! The dogs nose separates out all the smells and signals in on the gluten. What is there was one tiny crumb that the sensor didn’t get inside of it? BAM! Sick for days, weeks, or months. The advantage of the dog is that the dog can get the whole picture, not just pieces. The gluten detection dog that we have has saved my son from being sick numerous times already.

  16. I agree with txlady and wonder how well it would detect cross-contamination. Seems to me if some crumbs fell in your food and you didn’t take the sample from the side where the crumbs fell it likely would not be accurate. I also think this might make restaurant staff a little more cavalier about being careful with your food. If they know you can test it, they might not take the same pains with preparing your meal. However, I am intrigued and I do like the part about being able to enter the results into the app. That would probably work a lot better than leaving reviews on findmeglutenfree!

      1. I totally agree there’s always a risk, but I can’t help thinking this particular tool WOULD make us look crazy paranoid, even though I do like the idea and appreciate their efforts. I don’t really care if people think I personally am crazy paranoid (they’d probably be right, ha!) I’m thinking more of the public perception of celiacs and gluten free eaters as a whole. And I see it potentially setting up an adversarial relationship between celiacs and servers. That would do a lot of damage to the strides we’ve already made. Maybe I’m wrong – wouldn’t be the first time. I’m willing to see where it goes, but I’m not sold just yet. 🙂

    1. I was thinking the exact same thing…what if I took a sample from the safe side of the plate? But then I realized it’s probably the same with all gluten testing. When products are tested in the factory, only a sample from each batch is tested and not each and every cookie.

  17. I love it! Wish I had thought of it! Do not care what anyone thinks about my testing my food. If I am in place with history of being safe I probably would not use it. If I am traveling or dining in an unfamiliar zone am using it. Someone says to me “how allergic are you”? Am using it! Too many! too, too, too many changes! in restaurant staffing and protocols to prevent things falling through the cracks!

  18. Oddly enough, I’m taking a marketing class this semester and we had to come up with a product to market. I had this same idea but I hadn’t thought of the app to go with it (love that). I ran across this company when I was researching what competition I would have. I was pretty excited about it. I would use it. Mostly in settings where I don’t want to be “that person” asking what is gluten free. You know, like BBQ’s or small weddings with no wait staff. I could discretely test some items off my husband’s plate without being the unwanted center of attention.

  19. I’m in…. And totally intrigued!

    My question though, relates to cc. I’ve been contaminated by a grain of rice that was cooked with gluten containing broth. If that grain of rice is hidden under a chicken tip on the left side of the piece of chicken and I test the right side (or another tip entirely) how will this device detect the cc?

    Yes, I realize this is a case of crouching chicken, hidden rice but…I’m sure there are many excited Celiacs out there who would feel silly (not to mention duped) if they were to become ill after utilizing this device and eating what they thought was a “safe” meal.

    Thoughts?!?

      1. ‘Tis an excellent point Dude.

        I guess I, like so many others, am already expecting this to be a catch all!

        And Dude, I’m LOVING your references – Animal House, Honeymooners and otherwise 😉

  20. I will happily allow the beta testers to fill the data set for the geniuses at MIT to evaluate. Also, sounds pricey, like MIT.

    Dude, you’ll have to stick to Animal House references for me, thx. Or type a little louder, sonny.

  21. I am excited about this product and applaud those trying to help celiacs and NCGS folks eat out safely – and get the word out when restaurants do it RIGHT and do it WRONG! The chef can totally understand, but then a line cook or server could mess it up. I’ve worked in restaurants for a long time as well. No waitstaff wants to admit to the chef that they just accidentally put a piece of fresh bread on top of the painstakenly made GF food that the chef carefully crafted. So they remove it, and hope no one notices. If I bought this device, I would still be testing food – even establishments that I know and love. You never know when a company switches the ingredients… we check… but do all the cooks each time? Do you know how many times food suppliers change their offerings for better deal for their restaurants?

    Better living through chemistry!

  22. I will happily try it and the price seems reasonable. I travel a lot for work and get pretty run down for skipping “team” dinners that aren’t Celiac friendly. And remote areas are also challenging. Only so much processed GF food I can pack or tolerate for that matter before I get sick. It will be nice to have a tool to test, I’m willing to try anything .

  23. “Oh this is good … Call Starkist”

    So … “You take a sample of something on your plate that you want to test and place it in a small, disposable capsule. You then put the capsule in a sensor and in a few minutes you will know if there is gluten in that sample you tested.” Key words in that sentence are, “in that sample you tested.” Sounds like you would need to test every bite of food that would be going into your mouth to make sure you aren’t getting glutened. Testing every bite of food to make sure there is no gluten in it? You’d take 3 hours just to get through the salad!

  24. Will this device give a thumbs up/down indication only? Or will it show the part per million of gluten? Will the bias be to show false positives? Sounds pricey.

    Nice design, though. Reminds me of those old saccharin pill containers people went around with. (Feeling young again, GD?)

  25. As a celiac, I’ve often fantasized about a device like this existing but had no idea one was close to being available. I’ll be one of the first people to purchase one, for sure. I hate the stress and (often) the sickness that result from eating what’s supposed to be gluten-free food at restaurants. This would eliminate that and would be a huge weight off my shoulders, especially since I travel for work.

    I can’t comprehend why anyone would be worried about looking ‘weird’ using this. It looks to be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. No one is going to care enough to look to see whether you’re holding a cell phone or something different. And even if they did, what’s worse, a weird glance or comment, or an autoimmune attack? Seriously.

    Please do another blog post about this when the device becomes available!

  26. My son has limited language skills but he loves gadgets so this would be a great way for him to test food a school since he can’t list everything that has gluten in it.

  27. Forget the restaurants, I would buy one to test foods at home. Right now I will not buy products that say they are gluten-free, but have a disclaimer that it is produced in a facility with wheat. (Amy’s anyone?) It probably is safe, but how do you know for sure? Do you risk it? How about foods that don’t make a gluten-free disclaimer at all, but you see that none of the ingredients contain gluten. I’ve stopped at many a gas station and looked at bags of snacks, but because it doesn’t specifically say it is gluten free on the package, I have passed. This would also be useful with foods that are served in other people’s homes or at potlucks and it should be safe, but you can’t be sure. (Do they know that all soy sauces aren’t safe? Did they buy regular brats or beer-braised ones?)

    I would buy one in a skinny minute. None of my friends would be offended in the least if I whipped one of these out and tested their food before I ate it. I would be able to enjoy it and none of us would be stressing that I was going to be knocked out of commission for two weeks.

    1. I have been glutened by Amy’s, so I now never buy anything marked GF but made in a facility that processes wheat. I can’t believe how much space stores give to her products when there are much better (& safer) ones available. I would love to try this tester, but will probably wait until others have tried and reviewed it. I would really like to test BBQ.

      1. Lord, YES to the BBQ. The really good places around here have recipes that are so secret only the family knows what is in them and they aren’t giving it up. They also usually have generic unmarked squeeze bottles on the tables with variations of homemade sauces to choose from. My favorite BBQ place had four sauces on the table..mustard-based, ketchup-based, vinegar-based, and a hot spicy version. The staff *thinks* they are safe, but they can’t be sure.

        Now that I think of it, this would be a fabulous tool for restaurants to use, too. If a customer has a question about the safety of ingredients and the staff isn’t sure (like the homemade sauce), they could bring this out and test it at the table. Maybe I should invest stock in this company.

  28. I’ve been so excited about this device since I first read about it earlier this year. Yes, I would totally buy one. Anything that adds another level of double-checking food is a good thing for me. I do wish it wasn’t just limited to a sample, as I too would worry about part of the meal on another side of the plate. But I think it would be valuable still. We rarely eat out, but on vacation, I get awfully tired of eating nuts, nut bars and yogurt. Being able to double-check the occasional meal out would be very helpful!

  29. I would love to buy one of these. The more people who start pulling these out in restaurants, the more seriously the restaurants might take this issue.

  30. I would be 3rd or 4th in line to purchase this. I’m thinking of the 3 times I’ve been told the pasta I ordered was gluten free. Only to be told after eating half the dish “ooops we’re so sorry, we accidently served you the other pasta”. If I could have checked beforehand…..

  31. I think it’s great. And what’s wrong with holding an establishment accountable? If you say my food is gf then it should be gf. Why should I have to worry about their reaction when they don’t do what they say they are going to do? One of our major gripes as a community is that restaurants don’t take the gf requirement seriously, isn’t this a way to hold them accountable? One of my biggest struggles is feeling guilty for needing accommodations to eat. We shouldn’t have to feel guilty and this seems like a good tool to help with that.

    My only question is how exactly does it test? Does it test for 20ppm or any indicia of gluten? If it tests for 20ppm then it doesn’t do me or many other Celiacs I know much good because we still react at 20ppm.

  32. This practically brought tears to my eyes. I travel often with my young son, and haven’t always been able to bring our own food. I am as careful as I can be, but the fact is, most restaurants are not equipped to handle the level of care it takes to keep things from getting cross-contaminated–even if they have gluten free menus and appear to understand the importance of it for people with Celiac. He has gotten sick after every trip, no matter how careful I am, and it takes him weeks to recover. I can’t even tell you how much this would improve our quality of life.

    It would also be great to know which foods that aren’t necessarily labeled “gluten free,” actually are gluten free and safe to eat.

    I don’t care if we look like weirdos. I’m pretty sure my kid would think it was cool, and he’s the kind of kid that would explain it all in excruciating detail to anyone who questioned him about it. Performing science experiments at a public restaurant is much less embarrassing than having diarrhea in your pants.

    If something tested positive, I think you’d just have to suck it up and deal. Unless a restaurant advertises that it’s gluten free, I don’t think you can expect them to cater to you, and have safe food. If they *do* market themselves as gluten free, asking for a refund seems totally appropriate. I’m sure this technology will only get better/faster/smaller/more discrete as time goes on.

    They should market this directly to restaurants. Having chefs be able to understand how little contamination it takes to set off the meter would go a long way towards keeping people safe. And they could make a bazillion dollars. 🙂

    1. Yes, market to restaurants! I would totally become a regular at a restaurant who does testing to insure gluten free meals.

  33. I would most certainly use this product. There might be an issue of perhaps the particular small sample of food not itself containing gluten when it may be available in another area of the dish, but I still think it’s a wonderful step forward.

  34. Where would I sign up?!?!? I would consider that I have it easy compared to most because I don’t get severely ill when glutened. None the less I still have reactions and they last typically a week. It would be super beneficial for anyone of us with celiac to have and use it. I would be able to go out again and eat with friends and family and not have to wonder if the cooks took the necessary precautions that are needed to make sure I can eat safely. I hope this comes about; I can’t wait to try it!

  35. I think this is a grand idea. I love to travel a lot and I think this would avoid the awkward, can I eat here? -I can’t read the menu because it’s in another language- barrier. I’m fructose intolerant so I can’t eat wheat, many other grains and many veggies and fruits so hopefully one day this can be included in the allergens. 🙂

  36. I would absolutely use it. I don’t care what others think, keeping myself safe is more important than anything else.

  37. I would totally use this!!! And I wouldn’t give a flying F★CK if I was a restaurant, would use it, and if it came back positive for gluten I would send it back and leave. Period. End of story. I don’t want to be or get sick because someone doesn’t care. I care about my health!

  38. I love the idea …but would probably let others test it for awhile (with reviews) before I dared. Even though it wouldn’t guarantee that the “whole” dish was gluten-free it would be very helpful when you are away from home. I still love taking vacations, but do so with much apprehension about eating at places that are unfamiliar. If I made my normal smart choices and then double checked some it might help avoid some accidental glutenings. No one wants to spend most of his or her vacation from inside a strange bathroom!

  39. Brilliant!! Appeals to me for something I would use for travelling overseas where there might be a bit of a language barrier. When and where can we buy one of these babies?!

  40. $150 might be a bit high for me but like all technology I expect that might come down. Weird is not a problem for me. I would test. I think, primarily, I might test something very interesting on a buffet. I have been on the diet a very long time so I don’t get super sick from cross contamination but do as much as possible to not gluten myself. I am not sure I would test something that I requested to be gf in a restaurant because I wouldn’t want to have to not eat it. There are a few foods in the grocery I would like to test. I believe that is where I might find the tester most useful.

  41. I think this is awesome! If this product will be able to do what they’re aiming for – I’ll be the first one in line! I personally miss being able to eat out without the risk of being glutened!

  42. I would definitely use it but don’t think it would be beneficial to make a big fuss to the staff about the results unless something was touted as gf. Sharing the results with others on the app is brilliant though! I’d gladly be a tester on this type of science!

  43. i would so use this- eating out, at home, at family’s homes. I can’t tell you how many times my dad has told me the food he made was gf, then I got sick. (Now I just bring my own.)
    And Dude- awesome references! I’ve been LOLing!

  44. I think this is a great idea, will be glad to see it produced and tested out in the field. I for one would use it, there are so many times I have been out all day and not planned to take GF food with me. Sometimes it wouldn’t even be practical to bring what I normally eat. For those embarrassed about the test, go to a more secluded area of a restaurant to test it,( I’d be just as discreet as I could). Probably I’d try to go during the restaurant’s slow period. Great news, keep me posted.

  45. I would be first in line for one of these. Three of us have celiac one a small child and we end up eating out a lot plus people who bring in snacks for school who swear it’s gluten free. Yeah I’d use this daily. We are very careful but we still get sick once in awhile with our busy lives. This would be do helpful

  46. I would absolutely use this! $150 is not expensive when you consider what it costs to miss 3 days of work after being glutened!! I would test my husband’s meal at a restaurant, if it looks good, and if it tests gluten free I can order it myself the next time we’re out 🙂

  47. Wow! What an incredible idea! I hope they will be available in the UK too!

    My husband is Coeliac, we would definitely buy this! My only feedback would be that as a Coeliac we would need a device that picks up traces of all the allergens associated with Coeliac Disease – wheat, gluten, malt & barley. This is such a promising product and I would sleep a lot better knowing that my husband is eating safely!

    This would be amazing when travelling and trying to explain dietary requirements across a language barrier! Very excited about the prospect of this device 🙂

  48. I like the ability to test the food from a menu that has been labeled GF. So many times I’ve been cautious and still felt like my food must have been cross contaminated…..too bad this device won’t be sensitive enough to catch it all. Great ideas start the minds of many to think again. May the next device allow a quick swipe to eliminate all gluten on the entire plate. In my dreams!

  49. I have no problems about how it looks or being perceived as weird. Or what the restaurant thinks. Or the price – anything is worth not getting sick. My problem is some skepticism about the sensitivity and thoroughness of device itself:
    (1) As someone said, how can it test the entire plate? It would test the bit that you put in the device from the left side of the plate, but what if a gluten-contaminated bite is on the right side? Unless everything is going to be mixed together and pureed like a soup, I’m having trouble visualizing how this will be accurate. What if there are gluten bits transferring from a knife used to cut something that made it to part of the plate and not the other (that was tested)?
    (2) How can it deal with cross contamination? It seems that it wouldn’t be able to pick up cc in a sauce, broth, seasoning, etc. that was processed in a facility that processes gluten. And I’m sick in a heartbeat from even the most minute of gluten cc. Only dedicated GF facilities – I don’t think this test would catch that.

    I wouldn’t use it personally because I won’t take risks of any cross contamination or other presence, but I can see how it would help with some of the questions that celiacs have when eating out. There would still have to be questions and some risk, but at least the blatant point of “is there a big gluten-containing thing in front of me” could be narrowed down.

  50. Here’s the Celiac showdown scenario. This device is calibrated to give false positives so that the risk of getting glutened is lowered. But, the restaurant has used good practices and is sure their food is GF. They even have their own test kits, but from a different supplier. Does the celiac guest send the food back if they have a positive on this device from MIT? Let’s hope everyone is armed.

  51. This is a smashingly good idea. There’s nothing better than a well stocked tool kit.

    Curiosity always gets the best of me, especially when I’m eating out, and instead of enjoying, I’m wondering if the cook is poisoning me because he thinks I’m another “faddy.”

    Bring It On!!!!!!

  52. I would love to read online what results other testers have seen! That kind of info, made public, might encourage restaurants and staff to be more careful and/or aware.

  53. I already signed up for their info list 🙂 I would use it and don’t give a crap what anyone thinks. I too have a small list of places where I’ll eat because I can trust their food, so it would be nice when I try a new place that has “gluten free” options I can have some piece of mind that I am not about to get glutened.

  54. I don’t CARE what someone else thinks. This product sounds AWESOME. It would really help those of us with allergies to join more often in the social world without as much worry about ruining the next several hours/days.
    ~M

  55. I would want one for sure. This device could also be a good idea for restaurants that want to make sure they are serving gf items to their customers. Win win for everyone.

  56. I like the idea, I would love to go out or go on vacation without ending up in ER and I do not give a rats ass if people stare-honey I weigh 92lbs and I am 50 years old , they already stare. All of the lunch meetings when I sit and watch people eat. I say again they already stare. Perhaps if people stop thinks a GF diet is for weight loss maybe people would start to really give ashit about Celiac Disease. Right now most restaurant owners see us as a pain in the ass on a diet. A device like this may just give me life back again. May God bless you for this!

  57. Is it weird for the police to make you blow into a device to test your blood alcohol? I think this is a pretty cool idea if they can really hone the technology to make it super sensitive. 150 bucks is not too much at all to avoid the agony of getting sick.

  58. I think this is fantastic! I don’t care if we look weird or not testing food for gluten! My husband had severe headaches daily and a coworker recommended he go gluten free. When he finally decided to his headaches went away. The only time he gets them now is when sneaky gluten catches him off guard in spices and such. I’ve just recently joined him in gluten free eating and I think this is AWESOME! can’t wait to buy the product.

  59. I’d probably be in. Being able to verify things, especially when trying a new place, would be fabulous. It’d also be great to have an objective measure for times when you know you’re getting sick, but don’t know what the culprit is.

    That said, it’s all about how sensitive it is, how reliable it is, and how much the disposable units are. Since I react to CC, I wouldn’t be inclined to eat anything that I thought of as ‘risky,’ even if it tested as clean. I think it’d be more of a backstop when trying new things that I think should be fine, rather than a way to explore the restaurants that are off-limits because they don’t care enough for me to feel safe.

    And price is definitely a factor. If it’s $10/test (as other at-home kits I’ve used were), then it could be a cool thing for a restaurant or caterer to have to spot-check their kitchen procedures, but it wouldn’t work for me as an individual.

    Regardless, I’d love access to the app’s data.

  60. I would like to have such device. Some of people may feel uncomfortable about being perceived as weird, but health is much more important than reaction of others. Besides device can be very useful not only in restaurants. As for me, it can be very handy anywhere because not all gluten-free products are marked as “gluten-free” and not every product which is supposed to be naturally gluten-free actually is. It is much better to be able to check food than gamble with my health. Hope that this device will be able to give valid test results.

  61. I don’t think I would trust the device to effectively catch cross-contamination, like many have already mentioned. So many people are ready to trust this piece of technology, even though no one actually knows if it would work effectively or not. It seems like wishful thinking, like everyone’s looking for a magic quick fix to the never-ending celiac problem of finding really safe gluten-free food.

  62. I want one! It may not be 100% reliable but if it is even 80% reliable it is still better than blindly taking someone’s word that their food is GF & crossing your fingers, toes, and eyes that you don’t get sick! Dude, please let us know when they are anticipating release of this additional aid for celiacs that do their due diligence research but STILL get poisoned…

  63. Yes, please! I have been living and traveling for years in developing countries where there is no awareness of either celiac or gluten. The onus is always on me to develop the language skills and knowledge of common local ingredients to be able to ask about everything that might contain gluten in a given dish (bullion/spice cubes are my current nemesis). That certainly leaves room for mistakes and a tester would be a great backup. The other complication of living in developing countries is I can never be sure when I do have a reaction if it’s from inadvertent gluten exposure or from something else in the environment (bad water, bacteria, unhygenic preparation). It would be revealing to have a better idea of what is probably just environmental, and since I don’t think I’m super sensitive, the test might help me avoid eating slightly contaminated meals that I can’t tell are doing me damage. Finally, as others have said, being able to test dishes at friend’s dinner parties, potlucks, and buffets would expand my eating and social options. Testing the food couldn’t seem weirder than being that picky oddball who will only eat the dish they made, and only at the beginning before there is any cc. So by all means, bring it the tester. I can’t wait.

  64. When I get that device I am going to collapse in a puddle of tears. I will finally be able to leave my hoe without fear about safe food being in reach. I won’t have to sit their sweating in front of a group of friends while i decide how many questions I can politely ask before the waitress throws crumbs in my dish out of spite for the extra work (I’ve heard many server friends admit doing so themselves or knowing others too when they feel a customer is bugging them too much). I can have confidence in food again, and maybe finally beat my fears of eating. Please get this out as soon as possible! It is needed more than any could imagine!

  65. there’s a real risk that this product could lead to a certain complacency- if you test one bit of a dish- it’s not certaint that its uncontaminated in other areas. like, shared serving spoon or removed crouton contamination.

  66. I really don’t care what the restaurant says. I am sick and tired of being sick from eating contaminated food. When asked about cross contamination I respond, “I am going to prepare your food on a surface that I mixed a batch of arsenic poison, you will still eat my food?”

    I have been at one of the best restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, dinner for 4, $600 and was assured that they knew how to prepare food with no cross contamination. Sick for 2 days. I don’t trust anyone and do not eat out very often. We need this and any restaurant that claims they provide gluten free and don’t, their names need to be available to the community so people don’t eat their and maybe owners will do the training if it hurts in the pocket book.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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