I believe in transparency, and while at the time this post was written, I was not a Nima affiliate, I want you to know that after using Nima for about a month I decided to join their affiliate program. If you shop for a Nima Sensor and use my discount code, GIGI, you will receive $50 off and I will receive a small commission. That has no effect on the price you pay. Any time I write to you about Nima, I will repeat this, just so you know I do have an affiliation with the brand. That said, all opinions are my own and foods I test are chosen by me with no outside influence. I partnered with Nima because I like using the product and I believe it is a useful tool for celiac and other gluten-free individuals. If you purchase a Nima Sensor and use my code, thank you so much for supporting my work and helping offset the costs I incur while keeping the content I share here free to you.
When I share an image of a “gluten found” Nima test result, I get mixed responses.
Emotions on this topic run the gamut. I understand and respect all sides.
Some folks freak out because they see and interpret the result as if the food tested is as gluten-filled as a piece of traditional white bread.
Others express irritation. No one wants to see that result on a favorite product labeled “gluten-free” and often also labeled “certified gluten-free”. Product manufacturers really don’t want to see this. Individuals otherwise making money off a product (i.e., affiliates or brand ambassadors) get ruffled, too.
I receive bullying emails from manufacturers, negative messages from others in the gluten-free community and even a few from folks urging me to call the FDA immediately to report a product.
I try to take it all in stride. I understand why some of those folks are annoyed.
There are also emails thanking me for taking time to test and share about products. I hear from people saying, “hey, I got sick after eating that and now I know why”.
The Purpose of Sharing
The purpose of this site is to contribute in a positive way to the gluten-free/celiac community. It is my community. I’m not someone sharing information about a disease with which I do not live. I deal with the everyday issues of “can I eat this?” or “what’s safe to eat here?” or “why does my digestion feel off? Did I eat gluten accidentally?” just like all celiac patients and gluten sensitive individuals endure.
That is why, when I have information I believe can help even one person, I share it. Someone recently told me it is one’s social responsibility to share information like Nima results with others who have celiac disease. I love that and I agree with it.
Another social responsibility for those of us sharing this type information is to be as equitable as possible in presenting it.
To that end, I always point out what a “gluten found” Nima test result means. But that is usually in a social media post or in messaging with someone.
It is important to share this information here, in a more permanent way, as a point of reference when a “gluten found” result rattles someone.
Be sure and read my previous article, Understanding the Nima Sensor, too!
What a “Gluten Found” Nima Test Result Means
If Nima detects any level of gluten in a food sample tested, the result is “gluten found”.
Nima detects gluten at levels BELOW 20 parts per million (ppm).
The efficacy of the device is addressed on the Nima website (scroll to bottom of page). There, you will see stats for false positives (reading “gluten found” when a food tests gluten-free by ELISA testing).
From the Nima site: “For foods containing below 2 ppm [gluten], Nima reported ‘gluten found’ 7.8 percent of the time.”
The Nima team openly acknowledges a low incidence of false positives; however, they point out that it is most important to limit a false negative test result. In other words, if a food does contain gluten at or over 20 ppm, Nima needs to be highly accurate at detecting this in order to be of utility to consumers.
A “Gluten Found” Result Does Not Always Mean a Food Fails to Meet FDA Guidelines.
Because Nima is sensitive well below 20 ppm, a product may test “gluten found” and still be below the FDA regulation of less than 20 ppm gluten. That means even a product labeled “certified gluten free” could test “gluten found” with Nima.
This is why I do not contact the FDA with “gluten found” Nima findings.
Again, my goal is to share information that may be useful to my readers. Taking information I share and using it wisely is the responsibility of the reader.
So why use Nima?
Some of us with celiac disease aren’t satisfied with the FDA’s 20 ppm ruling. We would like to know if there is any detectable gluten in foods we are eating. As someone with celiac disease who reacts abruptly and severely when I ingest even a small amount of gluten, here’s my thinking:
For those of us with celiac disease, the only way to prevent the autoimmune response caused by gluten is to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. While it is accepted that there is no “zero gluten” in manufactured gluten-free foods (read more on that here in my article on what 20 ppm means), I certainly prefer the lowest level of gluten possible. So, if Nima picks up gluten in a labeled “gluten free” product because it is ultra-sensitive, I am grateful.
Everyone is unique; we all have different needs.
Not everyone will agree with my thoughts on Nima and its utility in the life of someone with celiac disease; however, it is never my intent to tell you what to do or what to eat.
As I said before, I am here to share information I feel benefits those with interest in the topic.
Everything I share will not be meaningful to every reader every time; however, I have received hundreds of emails over the eight years I have shared here on this site from people who say “you saved my life with this information”. That drowns out all the negativity that comes along, I assure you. It is why I do what I do.
The Bottom Line
When testing with Nima, you should know:
- Nima returns a “gluten found” result when any level of gluten is detected.
- Nima is sensitive below 20 ppm gluten.
- There is an approximate 7.8% chance of a false positive when using Nima.
- Some foods that test “gluten found” with Nima contain < 20 ppm gluten, which meets current FDA labeling laws for gluten-free foods.
- Some foods that test “gluten found” with Nima contain < 20 ppm gluten and meet the guidelines for gluten-free certification.
- Nima is an additional tool an individual with celiac disease (or another medical condition that warrants a gluten-free diet) can use as an added assurance the foods they eat (packaged foods, dining out, eating at someone else’s home, etc.) are gluten-free.
What’s your feeling on Nima testing?
Share in the comments below.