Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Supporting ackee research

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 3:00 AM

In recent weeks, there have been reports of almost two dozen deaths from suspected ackee poisoning in Jamaica, which Mike Ming, of the Agro Processors Association, worries could hurt the US$14-million-a-year ackee-export business.

No one is yet certain that all the deaths relate to ackee, or at what stage of maturity the fruit may have been eaten. It is, however, known that hypoglycin, a naturally occurring organic compound that can be dangerous to health, is found in ackee. It is also widely held folk knowledge that ackees should be eaten only when fully mature and that the pods should be allowed to open naturally.

But, as Mr Ming says, we need to know more about the properties of this fruit that is part of our national dish.

Some years ago, high levels of hypoglycin in processed ackee caused the Americans to ban the product from Jamaica. Studies were started to determine the cause of the problem, but were discontinued because of lack of funding.

We agree with Mr Ming that this research should resume, focusing on the tolerable limit of hypoglycin in ackee for human consumption and why its level appears to rise in certain months.

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