About one in 10 Americans have a food allergy, according to ABC News. And for those who have to avoid commonplace ingredients such as peanuts or gluten, eating out can be a major ordeal that requires a lot of research and generates much anxiety.
That’s likely why tech company Nima is trying to assuage the concerns that come with a food allergy. First, the start-up launched a line of sensors to detect gluten or peanuts in food so that people with related allergies could know if their meal would make them sick before taking their first bite. And now, Nima has announced a new mapping tool to advise users on which restaurants in their area are likely to have gluten-free or peanut-free options.
“Nima staff tested menu items for the presence of gluten or peanut from over 100 popular chain restaurants using the Nima Gluten and Nima Peanut sensors,” according to a press release. “The dishes that were found to be free of these allergens were mapped to include all additional locations of the restaurant worldwide.”
On Nima’s website and app, users can scroll down to a search bar labeled, “discover gluten or peanut free options near you.” After entering a location and place, type of food, or other qualifiers, people can read up on the restaurants around them.
For those 100 chain restaurants that Nima staff went to, more than 250,000 restaurant locations were put on the map and millions of dishes were officially dubbed “Nima-tested.” Restaurant details in a side bar show what percentage of the menu is gluten-free and peanut-free, with reviews indicating whether individual items are safe for consumption.
“One of our key values at Nima is data for decisions,” Shireen Yates, CEO and co-founder of Nima, said in a press release. “Our ultimate goal is the democratization and transparency of data as it relates to food allergens and this new platform brings us one step closer to our mission.”
Nima made clear that for their chain restaurant information, tests were not necessarily done at the location in a user’s area. Instead, the map uses data from one branch that is likely to apply elsewhere, as chain restaurants tend to have fairly standardized menus. Nima also warned against cross-contamination, which is a risk in “high volume chain restaurants.”