BD Awards Runner-Up Health and Medical Technology Award to Red Dye 40 Detector Device

June 14, 2017

How a Sixth Grader Invented a Detection Device to Dye For

Almost not making it to the emergency room after an allergic reaction would be scary for anyone – but for a child, it’s even scarier. Just ask Jianna Nichols, a sixth grader from Ohio. After a life-threatening allergic reaction to Red Dye 40, Jianna decided to scour the internet for any signs of a portable detection device for Red Dye 40. To her surprise – there was none; a fact she confirmed by searching through U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records.

What’s more, she found that she wasn’t alone in her medical condition – not even close. Jianna –explains that more than one-third of a million people share her allergy. What’s more, Red Dye is becoming increasingly prevalent in food.

Spurred by her near-death experience, and earnest that no one else should have to go through a similar one, Jianna decided to take action.

Introducing The Red Dye 40 Detector Device

After an impressive variety of different iterations of her invention, Jianna landed on her final prototype ─ a mobile, confined chamber containing a Red Dye detection strip. Being easily transported on a necklace, keychain, bracelet, or in a purse, and fully contained to prevent any accidental contamination, Jianna’s final prototype was designed with both mobility and safety in mind.

Jianna’s prototype includes a logging app, which allows people to keep track of the foods that do and do not contain Red Dye 40 so as not to have to retest the same foods “over and over again.” Though Jianna’s prototype was finalized for the invention convention, she intends her ultimate product to be much smaller – roughly a third the size.

Watch Jianna as she demonstrates the functionality of her Red Dye Detector Device, and describes the challenges she faced along the way.

For her inventiveness, meticulous research and keen scientific methodology, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a global medical technology company, awarded Jiana the Health and Medical Technology award, given each year to the inventor with the most innovative invention related to the fields of health and medicine. To learn more about BD and its commitment to advancing the world of health, visit

NOTE: Some readers will note that there are two separate Health and Medical Technology awards; due to the incredible number of worthy medical inventions, BD awarded two separate inventions – the QR Allergy ID and “Arianne” Red Dye Detector Device – the Health and Medical Technology award. Be sure to read about both.


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