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Tuesday 18 May 2021

Natural Theater Not only insects, jellyfish are also a source of food protein

Not only insects, jellyfish are also a source of food protein

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The specimens of jellyfish that populate the seas, a phenomenon due to a mix of causes, first of all intensive fishing. Even in these days we can have proof along the coasts of Salento, but if the main reaction is to fear coming "points", now is the time to change perspective: jellyfish are the food of the future. Stefano Piraino, professor of Zoology and Marine Biology at the University of Salento, has been assuring it, who has been studying them for thirty years and who for some years, in collaboration with ISPA-CNR researcher Antonella Leone, has focused on their nutritional properties . «They are an excellent source of protein, low in fat, as well as an eco-sustainable raw material», underlines the teacher, «that it contains almost all the amino acids we need and that, according to recent studies, it may have anti-cancer properties ".

The success of this line of research is evidenced by the growing interest of the media but above all by the increasingly frequent experiments with chefs and restaurateurs.

jellyfish
The curious world of jellyfish (photo by pixabay)

“Thanks to the PULMO project, financed by the European Marie Sklowdoswka Curie program - says Piraino - we have just published a new article that characterizes the microbiological community associated with jellyfish, demonstrating that there are no associated pathogens and that the" sea lung "jellyfish Rhizostoma pulmo , abundant in some Ionian stretches of the Apulian coast, it is edible. At the same time, as part of the European GO-JELLY project, in collaboration with ISPA-CNR, an innovative jellyfish transformation system has been developed which avoids the use of high toxic concentrations of salts such as alum, widely used instead in the traditional transformation systems used in Asian countries. Also for this reason we have recently started a collaboration with stellar chefs, such as Gennaro Esposito of Vico Equense, or as Fabiano Viva of the DUO restaurant in Lecce. The latter has recently lent itself to testing new delicious jellyfish dishes for Al-Jazeera's EarthRise program. However, the recipes are currently in the chef's safe, waiting for the European Food Safety Agency to give the go-ahead for the consumption of Mediterranean jellyfish, after having already done so with Asian jellyfish ".

Important experiments, considering that "in a world of uncertainties and changes, there is great certainty: in 2050 there will be 9,6 billion people who will ask this planet for more food - underlines Piraino - fishing has now reached maximum sustainability limits, and a recent FAO report reminds us that there have never been so few fish in the seas as now. If we continue at this rate, there will be no more fish to catch in 2050. New resources need to be found not only for food but also for the search for new drugs and new molecules of biotechnological interest. And jellyfish seem to offer an excellent opportunity for growth and sustainable development also in the Mediterranean ".

While waiting to taste recipes based on jellyfish, some advice for close encounters ... "To relieve the pain it is useless to use vinegar, ammonia or alcohol, indeed these substances increase the irritation caused by toxins - concludes Piraino - simply rinse quickly the affected part with sea water and apply a cold compress for at least 15 minutes, then avoiding exposure to the sun for the next 24 hours ».

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