Toxic puffer fish found in Beijing fish fillets

More than half of the fish fillets bought in Beijing and Qingdao were found containing toxins from puffer fish, a new study found.

Scientists from Medical college of Qingdao University tested 90 roasted fish fillets purchased at restaurants and supermarkets in the two cities for tetrodotoxin and found more than 68% were positive.

Using DNA tests, they discovered 87.5 of the 58 positive samples contained meat from the highly toxic Lagocephalus Lunaris puffer fish.

The amount of Tetrodotoxin in each fish varied from .10 miligrams per kilogram to as much as 63.81 mg/kg.

Considered 100 times more poisonous than cyanide, a 75 kg person ingesting 25 mg of tetrodotoxin can suffer paralysis of the diaphram, resulting in respiratory failure and death.

The paper, “Study on tetrodotoxin detection and puffer fish identification of roasted fish fillet at the retail in Beijing and Qingdao”, ascertained the toxic meat was mixed in with the raw materials before being cooked.

“Based on these results, we suggest that roasted fish fillet producers should prevent toxic puffer fish from mixing in the raw material and the regulators should strengthen TTX surveillance and product labeling supervision of roasted fish fillet,” the study, published in the Journal of Hygeine Research at the end of last year, said.

Tobacco’s hazards more apparent as China switches to clean fuel

As more Chinese households move away from burning coal for heat, the impact of cigarette smoke on lung cancer numbers in the country’s most cancer-ridden city is becoming more clear.

Scientists collected data from 520 males, half of which had lung cancer in Xuanwei, Yunnan, where mortality rates from lung cancer are 12 times the national average at 186 per 100,000 people.

Analyzing exposure to smokey coal used in heating, cooking and power generation, as well as cigarettes, they found, unsurprisingly, the two are heavily linked.

However, the researchers said coal increased lung cancer risk 6 fold, whereas smoking had a less poignant impact.

Smokey coal used in the home or emitted from power plants was strongly associated with lung cancer, increasing the risk 6 fold.  The locally
used Lai Bin and Long Tan coals presented the greatest risk, the study, published in the Lung Cancer journal, said.

Genetically Modified Crops decline in China

The number of genetically crops in China declined by 300,000 hectares in 2014, after safety concerns have many farmers opting for traditional harvests.

The country grew a total of 3.9 million hectares of GM crops in 2014, according to research from the International Service for Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

The drop was largely due to low cotton prices and overstocking.

Only two GM crops are approved in China – cotton and papaya. Staple foods such as GM rice are prohibited from commercial use, though two strands of rice have official safety cerficiation for non-commercial use.

Despite several  restrictions on the production of GM crops, China is the sixth largest producer in the world.

Scientists discover method to reverse hard boiled eggs

This story’s not so much about China as it is about one of the country’s favorite foods.

Scientists in Irvine, California have successfully discovered a method to reverse the process of hard boiling eggs, or returning the yolk proteins back to a liquid form.

While the method may be not be practical for those indecisive about their daily poultry intake, the technique has wide application from cancer treatment, lab sanitation and food processing.

When an egg yolk is boiled, proteins contained within become tangled as they shift state.

The research discovered a technique to detangle the proteins and allow them to refold into their previous state, Greg Weiss, a professor of chemisry, molecular biolgy and biochemistry at UC Irvine who participated in the project, told

Though they only worked with a single protein, the process could theoretically be expanded to unboil a hard-boiled egg, he said.

It’s most immediate use will be in helping remove proteins from test tubes, a process that previously took up to 4 days and was very costly.

But applications are far-reaching, ranging from cheaper cancer antibodies, with the current process using hamster ovaries where being able to shift protein state could better utilize costly resources, to better processed cheeses.

The study, titled Shear-Stress-Mediated Refolding of Proteins from Aggregates and Inclusion Bodies, was published in European Biochemsitry Journal Chembiochem.