Meet the Maker: Allergy Amulet


The smallest, fastest and most beautiful allergen sensor is almost here! Abi Barnes took technology that has been used for detecting nicotine and marijuana and is using it to test for food allergens, including her own — peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. Her company, Allergy Amulet, not only provides test results within 60-90 seconds, but also uses beautiful designs worthy of the runway. Get a front-row seat, and sign up for their newsletter here! That’s how you’ll be alerted about upcoming product announcements and release dates.

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Tell us everything!

We’ve created a sensor that’s easy and fast to use when eating out. You can wear it as a necklace or attach it to your keychain, making it small and portable. It gives results within approximately one minute, making it the fastest sensor on the market.

How does the sensor work?

The Allergy Amulet comes with a reader (the black rectangle) and a food sampler. Users will insert food into the sampler and turn to grind it. Once the sampler is connected to the Amulet, an alert will be displayed in seconds, showing whether or not the allergen was detected.

How did you come up with the idea for Allergy Amulet?

I’d had the idea for a long time, but it wasn’t until law school that I met the scientist whose technology could make it a reality. Around 2012 I learned about a chemistry professor at Dartmouth, Dr. Joseph BelBruno, who was using a technology that involved molecularly imprinted polymer (MIP) sensors to detect nicotine and marijuana. I approached him to see if MIPs could also be used to detect allergens. Joe coincidentally has a tree nut allergy, and together we created the Allergy Amulet.


Which allergens will the sensor test for?

Ultimately our reader will be able to test for multiple allergens, including the top 8 allergens, sesame, and gluten. However, the initial pre-order will focus on peanuts and soy.

Will the test results mean the entire dish is safe?

The test detects whether or not an allergen is present in your food sample. This will serve as an extra data point to help you decide if your dish is safe. We consider this a supplement to standard precautionary measures those with food allergies would otherwise take.

Your products are beautiful and easy to carry!

While function is our highest priority, we’re also committed to creating a beautiful product that people will be excited to use. We will offer necklace, wristband and keychain versions. Our readers will be available in gold, black or platinum. We’ll also include a carrying case to store your auto-injector, reader and samplers.


When will the Allergy Amulet be available?

Pre-orders will begin in 2021 and the first products will ship out later that year.

Tell us about your partnership with Ming Tsai.

We love Chef Tsai! You can find some of his great recipes like his Shiitake-Sweet Potato Brown Rice Pilaf with Jalapeño-Chive Raita on our blog and Instagram. He plans to help us introduce Allergy Amulet to the restaurant industry.

You only have four apps on your phone and one of them is Spokin. #honored

I’m loving Spokin’s restaurant recommendations and have started looking to those when traveling. I wish Spokin had existed when I was a kid so that my parents and I could have used it when I was growing up.


As a professional living with food allergies, how do you handle situations where food is being served?

My best advice is to plan ahead. If possible, I’ll pick the restaurant myself. If it’s looking like I won’t be able to eat what’s served, I’ll eat ahead of time. I also almost always have safe snacks on me, and I make a lot of my own food.

Snack that’s always in your purse?

88 Acres Triple Berry Blend Seed Bars — they have great nut-free products and quality ingredients!

Favorite restaurant near Allergy Amulet HQ?

We’re based in Madison, and my go-to is a local pizza joint called Salvatore’s Tomato Pies. Pizza is a pretty safe food for me, and those guys have the best in town.

Favorite restaurants on the road?

If you find yourself in Boston, two great restaurants for the food allergic are Myers + Chang, which has amazing food and an educated staff, and Ming Tsai’s Blue Dragon, which has a nut-free kitchen!


Dream for the future of food allergies?

I hope that someday the world will be so safe for people with food allergies that my company is put out of business. Until then, the Allergy Amulet makes dining out and eating foods prepared by others a little safer.

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