Cases of allergic reactions to mites in pancake mix on the rise
Mites spreading in pancake mixes are causing allergic reactions among an increasing number of people, prompting researchers to warn against long-term storage of such mixes after opening.
A group of researchers at Kochi University has found rising cases of systemic allergic symptoms triggered by mites that got into and then bred in flour mixes for "okonomiyaki" pancakes and sweets. The mites apparently multiplied after consumers kept those mixes at room temperature for a long period of time, according to the group.
According to the group, a 12-year-old girl suffered hives and other skin problems, as well as coughing and difficulty breathing, after eating "takoyaki" octopus dumplings that were cooked using an expired mix in the fall of 2011. The takoyaki mix had been kept at room temperature after opening. An analysis found some 9,000 American house dust mites per gram of the takoyaki mix.
Earlier this year, a woman and her child suffered similar symptoms after eating an okonomiyaki pancake cooked using a mix that had been kept at room temperature. An analysis found some 4,800 mites per gram of the mix.
A questionnaire on 54 parents and guardians of pediatric outpatients suffering from allergies at the Kochi Medical School Hospital found that 61 percent of respondents "had not heard of" the possibility of such reactions, while 65 percent said they kept the mixes at room temperature after opening.
"People with allergic tendencies should be urged to take precautions over how to store flour products," said Taku Oishi, a researcher with the Kochi University group.
According to Akihiro Miyanoshita, a senior researcher at the National Agricultural and Food Research Organization's National Food Research Institute, there were at least 135 similar cases reported around the world, of which 32 were in Japan.
"There could actually be more such cases because some may have been mistakenly diagnosed as wheat allergies," Miyanoshita said. "Pancake mixes are apparently more vulnerable to mite infestations than flour alone."
Because kitchens and other humid places are perfect breeding grounds for mites, Miyanoshita recommends that consumers finish using the mixes soon after opening; keep them refrigerated; or purchase mixes that are packaged into smaller portions.
The group is scheduled to report its finding at a meeting of the Japanese Society of Pediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology, which opens in Yokohama on Oct. 19.
October 14, 2013(Mainichi Japan)