Sunday, 27 March 2016

What are molluscs doing in wors?

On Thursday my mom and I went grocery shopping at President Hyper in Vanderbijl Park. It was my first time there. What a place! It really is a something-else grocery experience with a massive range of everything.

Mom was looking for wors to take to a braai and I marvelled at the range they had there. And then something caught my eye.

On the label, where they list ingredients, they also listed allergens and on many of the varieties 'molluscs' was first on the list. I should have taken a photo.

As Celliers is allergic to shellfish, we stayed well clear of these but still I was completely puzzled as to why molluscs would make an appearance in a product like wors.

The scary thing is that labels are not always read and the print was very small.

There is a very real chance that Celliers - and other with shellfish allergies - could rock up at a braai, eat a piece of wors and end up in hospital or, worse, dead.

When I hear 'molluscs', I think clams and snails and mussels and the shells that wash up on the beach.

What I forgot is that mollusca is a very large phylum that also includes the cephalopods - squid and octopus as well as the gastropods (slugs and snails) and the bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams).

Reading up on molluscan and crustacean shellfish allergies, I found an excellent website - 'Food Allergy Research and Research Programme'. They've got a lot of content on food allergies in general as well as specific allergies, like molluscan shellfish allergies. Apparently the main allergen in molluscs and crustaceans is tropomyosin, a protein found in the cytoskeleton of cells.

The catch is that those people that are allergic to crustaceans like shrimps and prawns are probably also allergic to molluscan shellfish because of the similarity of the tropomyosin protein across invertebrate species, even the non-dietary invertebrates like cockroaches and house dust mites.

People with gluten allergies know to avoid products like wors because of the additives to bulk up the content.

But molluscs in beef wors? What ever next?

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