Betsy Klein - December 12, 2013
When 13-year-old Samantha Hinton is unsure of the ingredients in a snack, she just doesnt eat it.
Thats because Samantha is among the growing population of food allergy sufferers in the United States, and she fears a bite containing peanuts could kill her.
I know its deadly, she told ABC News. And the side effects are just too scary.
But a team of eighth-graders at her New Hampshire school created a smartphone app that could make navigating the cafeteria a whole lot easier. The Hampstead Academy students took home the grand prize at Verizons App Challenge with their idea for Chow Checker, an app that identifies food allergens.
They submitted the video pitch last school year and got to work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab to turn it into a reality. It is now available for download in Google Play.
We knew that allergies were a pretty big problem, ninth-grade team member Alex Mielens said. We thought we could help solve that problem in our school and other places and help people who have allergies to stop from buying foods that may contain allergens.
Food allergies affect an estimated 4 to 6 percent of children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergy prevalence has also increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007.