Science Shorts: Seafood adulteration research, child food allergies, cricket consumption risks and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

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Seafood adulteration research, child food allergies, cricket consumption risks and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images
Seafood adulteration research, child food allergies, cricket consumption risks and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts. ©Getty Images

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Seafood adulteration research, child food allergies, cricket consumption risks and more feature in this edition of Science Shorts.

Fishy fraudulence: Supermarkets identified as main source of seafood adulteration in Singapore

Supermarket-bought imported seafood has been identified as the main source of seafood adulteration in Singapore, with calls for new technology to tackle the problem.

Singapore is heavily reliant on seafood as a protein and nutrition source, with an average consumption of 22kg per capita, but according to a recent Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) study, over a quarter of this protein source could be fraudulently labelled and a potential threat to public health.

The researchers utilised DNA barcoding technology to identify the species of 89 seafood samples collected from restaurants and supermarkets across Singapore. Of these 89 samples, 23 or 25.8% were found to be mislabelled.

“All the mislabelled products came from supermarkets, and were pre-packaged,” ​study lead author Sean Neo told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Vigilance vital: Australian researchers warn against complacency as child food allergies dip

Australian researchers have warned against complacency over child food allergies despite a recent study finding a significant drop in anaphylaxis rates as a result of infant feeding guideline changes.

Researchers aimed to examine the impacts of implementing allergy prevention guidelines on a national (implemented in 2007-2008) and global (implemented in 2015-2016), particularly to determine whether these had resulted in any parallel reductions in hospital admissions due to food anaphylaxis.

One of the major guideline changes highlighted was that of introducing allergens to infant diets before the age of one, before the child develops the allergy, in order to prevent this from developing – this was because the results showed a slowing in food anaphylaxis rates amongst children aged between one and 14 years of age.

“The results [for these age groups] coincide with the introduction of updated infant feeding and allergy prevention guidelines in 2007-2008 and 2015-2016,”​ MCRI Professor Mimi Tang said.

Curious about crickets? Beware if you have a seafood allergy, says Thai review

Cricket consumption has numerous nutritional and health benefits but those with shellfish allergies should proceed with caution, say researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University.

To determine the health benefits of edible crickets on a molecular basis, as well as their safety and allergenicity, researchers conducted a review of research articles and books gathered from various scientific databases, including PubMed, ScienceDirect and Scopus.

The review also looked at the safety and allergenicity of edible crickets. Seafood allergies are common and characterised by type I hypersensitivity or IgE-mediated hypersensitivity, often involving arthropods such as shrimp and crab. Crickets are also classified as arthropods and as such, possess potential allergenicity.

There have been cases of insect allergies reported in China and Thailand, 'together with cross-reactivity between A. domesticus​, shrimp and house dust mites'. The IgE from patients allergic to shrimp or house dust mites 'can recognize A. domesticus ​protein, confirming the potential allergenicity of crickets'. Furthermore, cross-reactivity of G. bimaculatus​ and shrimp has been demonstrated.

Currying favour: Monthly consumption of curcumin-rich food aids cognitive health in the elderly – Singapore longitudinal study

Consuming curcumin-rich curry at least once every month is enough to show better cognitive performance among the elderly in Singapore, according to a 4.5-year longitudinal study.

The study, conducted by researchers from National University of Singapore, National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and Geriatric Education and Research Institute, had assessed the data of over 2,700 seniors aged 55 and above.  

Curcumin has been actively studied for its potential neuroprotective benefits, due to its anti-inflammatory activities on neuro health. In addition, studies have demonstrated its antiplatelet, antidiabetic, and cardioprotective properties.

This study, published in Nutrients, ​found that that simply consuming curcumin-rich curry once per month​ was enough to show better cognitive performance.

Vitamin D supplementation may help prevent seasonal flu infection in children – Taiwanese RCT

Vitamin D supplementation may have a small, preventative effect against influenza infection in children, according to an RCT conducted by a team of Taiwanese researchers.

They also assessed the vitamin’s role in preventing enterovirus infection, but found it had no effect.

The results were presented in a paper titled “A randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza and enterovirus infection in children” ​published in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection​.

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