By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Reading the ingredient panels on food can be consuming at the grocery store. It can also be life saving for families with an allergy sufferer.

Food is always on Kim Wilson’s mind. Her old son Ethan is allergic to dairy, eggs, and peanuts. “It’s terrifying to be riding in the back of an ambulance with your child, hooked up to machines, making sure they are breathing.”

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The average grocery story has about 42,000 items on the shelves so it is no wonder finding allergy safe foods can be so time consuming.

Wilson estimates it takes her 2-3 times as long as the average shopper who can just throw food in a cart and keep walking down the aisles.

Food allergy app IPIIT (WBZ-TV)

Food allergy app IPIIT (WBZ-TV)

A new app, IPIIT, helps shoppers dealing with food allergies. Betty Toth of IPIIT explained how a person can set about a dozen food triggers they wish to avoid. Then “you simply scan the food product” with your phone.

We tested the app by indicating an allergy to eggs, gluten and milk, and then tested various cereals.

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Rice Chex came back as an acceptable choice. Frosted Flakes and Oatmeal were not.

There is an option to find out which ingredients are problematic. The app also suggests similar products that will fit a person’s criteria.

IPIIT has about 300,000 items in its data base. Store brands and generics are often left out.

Another omission is nuts. They’re expected to be added soon according to Toth.

Dr. James DeAngelo, an allergist, believes the app has potential and will become very common. In the meantime, he stresses the importance of reading ingredient panels. “You would definitely want to read the label, either first, and then scan as a second type of precaution, or the other option would be to scan first, if you’re in a hurry, but then make sure you read the label.”

IPIIT is free and can also be programmed to signify the presence of things like artificial dyes and sweeteners.

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The app can also select foods compatible with a particular condition, such as acid reflux.

Dr. Mallika Marshall