Meet the Maker: Allergy Amulet

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The smallest, fastest and most beautiful allergen detection device is almost here! Abi Barnes took a sensor 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 beta testing here.

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Tell us everything!

We’ve created a device 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 device on the market.

How does the device work?

The Allergy Amulet comes with a reader and disposable test strips. The test strips take a representative sample of your food and are then inserted into a sheath compartment that includes a chip. The chip slides out and is inserted into the reader, which then indicates if the allergen was detected or not.

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 device test for?

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Ultimately our one reader will be able to test for multiple allergens, including the top 8 and gluten. We’re also considering adding sesame. However, the initial launch will focus on peanuts.

Will the test results mean the entire dish is safe?

The test detects whether or not an allergen is present in your food sample, and we recommend inserting the strip into multiple spots in the dish. This will serve as an extra data point to help you decide if your dish is safe. Our standards for detecting allergens are consistent with those set by the other detection devices on the market. We consider this a supplement to traditional dining precautions.

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. Our initial launch will include necklace and keychain versions. Our readers will be available in gold, silver, or platinum plating. We’ll also include our carrying case, which can store your auto-injector, reader and test strips together.

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Can we get an early look?

Our beta version launches this summer! Sign up here for more information.

How much and when?

The reader will cost $150-250 depending on which version you purchase and the strips are $3 each. We expect to start pre-orders in Fall 2019.

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.

 

Follow Abi to see her reviews on the app!

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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 30 years ago 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, but until then, the Allergy Amulet makes dining out a little safer.

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