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Maruha Nichiro Foods Releases Allergy Test Kit

May 31, 2010

Maruha Nichiro Foods just set out to market a handy shrimp-crab allergy test kit, "Ebi/Kani Catcher 'Maruha Nichiro,'" to support the precise detection of allergy-causing substances.

In response to the mandatory labeling requirement for shrimp/crab allergy on food products and the full-fledged enforcement of the Act in June, Maruha Nichiro Foods developed an easy-to-use test kit that would come handy at manufacturing sites. The kit uses an Immunochromatography method to detect crustacean protein in a matter of 20 minutes.

The company already sold a kit to determine the quantity of crustacean protein in food in 2008; the kit met the government standard of "Guideline to Evaluate Inspection Method of Allergy-Containing Food." However, due to its time-consuming nature, the kit was not suitable as a self-management method at food manufacturing plants.

The new test kit just released enables the optional detection of crustacean protein. Crustacean protein contained in food can be screened from the level of 1ppm. It employs the same antibody as the 2008 released kit "Maruha," making correlation between the two kits possible. Selling agencies of the kit are Fasmac, Wako Pure Chemical Industries, Ltd., and Seikagaku Biobusiness Corp. It comes with 20 test strips and 100ml of extraction reagent (10x concentrated).

Here is how to use the kit: 1) Crush a specimen material with a mixer and extract a protein component with a reagent; 2) dip a test strip for three seconds in an extracted solution; and 3) leave the test strip for 20 minutes to examine the existence of reaction on the test strip.

The kit will be marketed for production sites and the quality control departments of food manufacturers, mass retailers' quality management departments, private food inspection agencies, and government inspection agencies.

The original article was published on May 31, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico Throws Devastating Blow to Fisheries

May 31, 2010

According to JETRO, an oil spill caused by an explosion and fire on a drilling rig of BP in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20 is now spreading its adverse effects on the fishing industry.

BP's initial estimate of the spill was 1,000 barrels a day; however, the amount released by the Coast Guard on April 28 was 5,000 barrels. Some experts estimate the spill to be 20,000 to 25,000 barrels. As described in the Wall Street Journal on May 3, the scale of the oil leak to the Gulf of Mexico reached the same area size as Puerto Rico, about the size of Aomori Pref. There is a growing concern over the ecosystem of a fertile river swamp, the Mississippi Delta.

Moreover, this area is one of the leading fishing zones in the US. The State of Louisiana, the closest point from the accident location, boasts of its second largest seafood yield in the country following Alaska; the State is the number one producer of shrimp, blue crab, and oyster.

NOAA Announces Fishing Ban in Gulf of Mexico

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to protect consumers and the fisheries industry, announced a minimum of 10-day fishing ban in the oil-hit areas. A "fishing disaster" declaration by the government to aid fish farmers and fishermen is under deliberation.

In addition, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced a commercial and recreational fishing ban in waters covering the east side of the Mississippi River, except Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Maurepas. Spewing crude oil is flowing towards the southeast side of the Mississippi River, generating a deep concern over marine products.

The Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, a local fishery group, claims the safety of their products: "Louisiana waters from the Mississippi River to the west are not closed; marine products harvested in those areas are safe. 77 percent of Louisiana's $2.4 billion fishing industry is being produced in the unaffected areas."

A Move to Buy Up Marine Products

The coastal communities of the Gulf of Mexico have not been fully recovered from enormous damage by the Hurricane Katrina, yet. Additionally, shrimp fishing, a gold mine for fishermen, was supposed to open on May 15; a fishing halt at this time of the year therefore is such a devastating blow for them.

BP is temporarily hiring out-of-work fishermen to clean up the spewed oil and install oil fences. Relating to this matter, several media outlets, e.g. Seafood News, reported on May 3 that contracts for fishermen contained a provision that would prevent them from suing the company in the future.

On the other hand, an anxiety about seafood shortages is triggering a move to buy up marine products. According to seafood retailers, their clients are picking up shrimp and crab four times more than the usual amount. Also, some seafood purchasers who used to seek seafood from the Gulf of Mexico are now switching to difference sources. This shift is bringing about a price hike in certain fish varieties.

The original article was published on May 31, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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