Wed | Feb 20, 2019

'Demystifying ackee poisoning'

Published:Saturday | February 26, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer

PASSLEY GARDENS, Portland:THE RECENT spike in ackee poisoning is being attributed to a lack of adequate sunlight which increases the levels of the toxin hypoglycin, which is found in the fruit.

This argument was put forward on Thursday by Seymour Webster, researcher and lecturer at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Portland. According to Webster, ackee poisoning mostly takes place during overcast and short-day periods.

"We are supporting the argument that radiance (light or heat) is important," he said.

"Sunlight does not have a direct effect on the hypoglycin levels in ackees, but does have a positive effect on the enzyme as it increases the catalytic activity of the enzyme so that the enzyme breaks down the hypoglycin," he explained.

"It can also be that the fruit, although left to open in its natural state, can still result in poisoning due to the lack of sufficient radiance."

Webster was making his presentation entitled 'Demystifying Ackee Poisoning in Jamaica - a Bio-technological Approach Towards a Solution'.

Twenty-three persons died from ackee poisoning in the last two months.