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The Future of Food Shopping: New Smartphone App That Scans for Dangerous Food Ingredients

Craig Leonard May 17, 2014
Smartphone App Food Analyzer - Health and Fitness Blog

As intentional as we may be about avoiding dangerous food ingredients like pesticides, herbicides, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, dyes, heavy metals and genetically modified organisms, it’s nearly impossible to know for sure just how safe our foods really are.

Sure, they might have a “USDA Organic” label. They might even have that oh-so-comforting “Non-GMO Project Verified” moniker.

But these labels don’t cover everything.

It doesn’t tell us anything about the volume of heavy metals the food might contain. And not all organic produce is free of dangerous exogenous chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.

All of this nutritional uncertainty is enough to drive those of us who are educated on the dangers of ingesting these ingredients, and the costs associated with doing so, mad.

There’s An App For That (Well, Soon There Will Be)

Fortunately, a new smartphone app is in the works that will bring us some much needed sanity by giving us a tool to help us detect hazardous food ingredients, a tool that will conveniently fit in the palm of a hand.

As Prevent Disease points out, “Every human being on every developed nation on Earth, whether living in a rural or isolated area, in the middle of a large city, or near an industrialized area, now contains at least 700 contaminants in their body including pesticides, phthalates, benzenes, parabens, xylenes and many other carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals.”

Brian Cunningham is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and of bioengineering at the University of Illinois. He and his team have created what is essentially a handheld mass spectrometer that rivals units which can be found in university laboratories at a clip of $50,000 per unit.

This handheld spectrophotometer is being developed as a cradle that will be able to hold a smartphone as it scans food items. In a matter of a minute or two it will be able to communicate its detailed analysis of of the scanned food through a display on an app downloaded on the user’s smartphone.

So, in a matter of minutes users will know exactly what dangers may be lurking in the foods they’re considering consuming.

So, What’s the Damage?

All of this sounds great, but it begs the question of how affordable it will be for consumers to get their hands on.

The price point has yet to be officially announced.

What we do know is that the cradle currently requires approximately $200 in optical parts, making it logical to assume that it will be priced at least as high when it hits the market later this year.

Natural News also expounds upon other possible applications of this device by noting that it’s extremely portable, making it potentially desirable as a food analysis tool for fieldwork in developing nations, in addition to being handy for day-to-day use by health conscious consumers.

The researchers are currently improving manufacturing processes for the iPhone cradle, with an Android version in the works as well. Suffice it to say, if they don’t find a way to bring down the price point, this revolutionary product isn’t likely to find its way into a great number of homes.

Still, it’s an innovative product that could be the genesis of a shift in how future generations of consumers will make their food buying decisions.

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