Eel Allergy Test
Latin name: Anguilla anguilla
Source material: Whole fish
Common names: European eel
Eel is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Eel Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Eel refers to any ray-finned fish of the order Anguilliformes. The most common species consumed by humans as food is the European eel, which grows to around 1.5m in length. Other species of eel are consumed in East Asia.
Japan is the largest market for eels worldwide, with over 70% of the global catch being consumed there, including both marine and freshwater species.
All three eel species used commonly in East Asia have seen their population sizes greatly reduced in the past half century, and similarly catches of the European eel have declined by around 80% since the mid twentieth century.
Japanese eels are officially listed as an endangered species, and the sustainable seafood advisory list Seafood Watch has published a recommendation that consumers around the world avoid eating freshwater eel due to concerns about overfishing. As eels are carnivorous, eel farming also places pressure on other species of fish within the food chain.
Methods of preparation include marinating in soy sauce and broiling, boiling or cooking in stews and soups, or grilled as fillets. The flesh is described as soft yet firmer than whitefish, with a delicate and slightly sweet flavour. A kind of sweet biscuit called “unagi pie” made with powdered freshwater eel is also consumed in Japan.
Jellied eels were traditionally popular in the East End of London, although they are now less commonly consumed. The dish consists of chopped eel boiled in aspic, and then eaten cold.
Elvers are juvenile eels, and in the past were widely consumed by fishermen as a cheap source of protein, however, with the global decline in eel stocks they are now considered a delicacy. They are fried or sauteed in a similar way as whitebait, and can reach up to 1,000 EUR per kilogram.
Smoked eel is a popular dish in a number of Northern and Eastern European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark and Sweden.
Eel is rich in vitamins and minerals, with high levels of vitamin A, vitamin E and calcium, and is a good source of protein while low in fat.
Eel Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No allergens present in eel have been characterised to date, although a number of proteins have been identified.
Eel Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Species within groups of fish, like Gadiformes (examples: codfish and hake) and Scombroid fishes (examples: mackerel and tuna) seem to share allergenic components. The overlap of allergen specificity between the different groups appears however to be moderate or even small.
Studies indicate common allergenic components in eel and cod.
Eel Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Specific IgE antibodies to eel have been demonstrated in groups of adults and children having food allergy with atopic dermatitis and/or respiratory symptoms.
Studies have demonstrated that over 50% of children with sensitivity to cod also showed IgE antibodies to eel.
Eel blood is toxic to humans, and to other mammals, however the toxic protein responsible is destroyed both by cooking and the normal digestive process.