Think before feasting
Varieties of dried fish
Did you know that garcinia or better known among us as Goraka and
Moringa leaves (Murunga in Sinhala) would be the best remedies for many
sea food allergies? Our grandparents, greatgrandparents or even the
generations before them knew this fact very well though they were not
aware of scientific fundamentals they were working on. These practices
prevented people getting allergies due to sea food.
According to scientific research these allergies are due to certain
histamines produced in our bodies as a reaction to fish that we consume.
Histamines can cause allergic reactions such as redness of the eyes,
burning and tingling sensations around the mouth, swelling, itching,
vomiting and diarrhoea.
Study conducted by the Food Science and Technology Department of the
University of Peradeniya under a grant provided by the National Science
Foundation, has revealed that sea fish, dried fish, canned fish, maldive
fish and jadi in Sri Lanka have very high concentrations of histamines.
As a result it poses a food safety concern as well.
According to the findings, processes of making dried and maldive fish
increases the concentrations of histamine. Furthermore the scientists
have found dark tissues of fish produced more histamines than the white
The study have also identified 30 different histamine producing
bacteria. Hafnia species were found to produce the highest amount of
histamines in fish. In addition the group have identified for the first
time that Micrococcus species and Flavobacterium species as histamine
producing bacteria for the first time.
The researchers also claim that according to their findings fish
sausages, fish nuggets and fish curry in packets contained low levels of
histamine concentrations - less than the tolerance limits.
Does this mean to say fish is not healthy to consume? Well of course
not. One should not come to such a conclusion since fish is highly
valuable as a main edible protein source for a developing country like
ours. Understanding the value it is important to overcome the problem.
Hence the Peradeniya University research team have revealed that
extracts of goraka (garcinia) and
Moringa (murunga) leaves can destroy
the histamines to safe levels. It was a common practice during the good
old days among the village women to mix garcinia or Moringa leaves with
fish, prawns, cuttle fish or any other commonly used sea food.
Yet it can be used while cooking dried fish as well, the study
reveals. Cooking in the extracts of Kathurumurunga or murunga leaves for
10 minutes have shown to lower the histamine levels of sea food curries.
Frying in coconut oil or soya oil for 4-5 minutes have shown to
destroy over 50% of histamines in fish. Hence, frying of small fish such
as sardines (salaya), herrings (hurulla) and mackerels (Kumbalawa) may
provide some means of reducing histamines.
Beheading and washing of fish before salting appeares to minimize the
production of histamine during drying. Dark tissues of fish produces
more histamines than the white tissues.Red-blooded fish varieties
containing intolerable histamine concentrations can be treated with
Garcinia pieces or paste. Tamarind (siyambala) and biling have less
effect on reducing the histamine levels, researchers stated.
(Information courtesy: National Science Foundation)
Sri Lanka Science and Engineering Fair 2009
Applications are invited for the `Science Research Project’ and the
`Junior Inventor of the Year’ national competitions for the Sri Lanka
Science and Engineering Fair 2009.
The annual Sri Lanka Science and Engineering Fair (SLSEF) is a
platform for science students to discover their scientific genius and
win public recognition at national and international level.
National level winners of SLSEF will be eligible to represent Sri
Lanka at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held in
USA each year. Coaching camps will be conducted for students who are
eligible to participate at international level.
The competition is, conducted through two paths. The Junior Inventor
of the Year competition is conducted by the Institute of Engineers Sri
Lanka and the Science Research Project competition will be conducted by
the National Science Foundation.
`Junior Inventor of the Year’ is an annually organised event
conducted islandwide to promote creative and innovative thinking amongst
schoolchildren. This is open to all Lankan children within the age group
of 12-20 years. Innovations and/or research projects under the
engineering field are entertained.
For applications and details contact Institute of Engineers Sri
Lanka, 120/15, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7, Telephone - 0112574159 web -
Science Research Project Competition was held for the first time last
year aiming at schoolchildren, undergraduates and the youth of the
country. Research projects conducted in science will be considered under
three categories : Category I: 13-16 years; Category II: 17-20 years;
Category III: 21-35 years.
Category I and II can enter by sending a project proposal. Guidance
will be provided for the selected students to improve their projects.
For category III completed projects, applicants could submit the project
For applications and details contact: Head, Science Popularization
Division, the National Science Foundation, 47/5, Maitland Place, Colombo
7, Telephone - 0112696771 - 3, 0112675017 web - www.nsf.ac.lk
The national level winner will be rewarded and recognized at the
World Science Day Schools programme scheduled to be held in November.