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Friday, 13th May 2016
In General Japan News,

Sticker developed to test for allergies

Trying the local cuisine is one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Japan, but it can come with a hidden danger in the form of allergies.

Reactions to soba, the buckwheat noodles that are popular across the country, can be fairly widespread and could ruin a trip.

An association of soba shops in the city of Sapporo has come up with an innovative way of testing visitors for allergies prior to consuming a bowl of noodles.

The diner places a sticker on their skin, which has been decorated with a historic ukiyo-e art style design on it.

Soba water is then put on top of the sticker and left for 15 minutes, with parts of it turning red if an allergy is detected.

This allows for the diner to find out whether they are compatible with eating soba noodles without enduring the agony of a possible reaction.

A spokeswoman for the association, told the Japan Times: “It was designed for foreign visitors to eat soba safely by checking for allergies beforehand.”

The science behind the sticker is skin-prick testing, which makes tiny wounds in the skin to measure allergic reactions.

Figures released by the health ministry show that between 2002 and 2005 4.6 per cent of all of the allergies reported in Japan were as a result of buckwheat, making it a substantial issue.

The spokeswoman added: “Many people are unaware they have a soba allergy, so the sticker is a good way to prevent allergic reactions.”

Work on the sticker by the soba association was prompted by an increase of 44.3 per cent in visitors to Sapporo compared to the year before, making the potential for undiscovered allergic reactions to occur.

A Koyotei soba shop in the city carried out tests using the sticker earlier this year. No concrete plans have yet been put in place to roll it out, but it is likely to become a feature of noodle shops in the future.