Histamine Poisoning
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HISTAMINE POISONING

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Food Safety News recently published an incident of histamine poisoning from a fish product that was supplied to a major ready meal delivery service provider that prompted a recall in New Zealand. According to the article, “the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirmed there had been reports of illness in New Zealand and advised consumers to discard the affected product”. The local health department “advised people to seek medical advice from their general practitioners if they have severe or persistent allergic reactions from eating fish”.
Histamine Poisoning

WHAT IS HISTIMINE

Histamine, also known as Scombrotoxin, is commonly formed in certain fish species when the fish is time-temperature abused. It is common in tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and bluefish, including trevally. Naturally occurring bacteria produce enzymes that react with histidine, a naturally occurring amino acid in the fish, to produce histamine.

WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF HISTAMINE POISONING?

Common symptoms associated with histamine poisoning (Scombrotoxin) are:
  • Tingling and burning inside of the mouth or throat
  • Asthmatic-like constriction of the air passage
  • Rash, hive, itching of the skin
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Heart palpitation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
Symptoms can occur within a few minutes and can last as long as a few days.

HOW DO FOOD COMPANIES CONTROL HISTAMINE FORMATION?

Histamine formation is commonly prevented by controlling the temperature of the scombrotoxin-forming fish from harvest on the fishing vessel all the way through the supply-chain until it is purchased by the consumer. A prudent processor should only purchase fish from an approved supplier who has demonstrated a good history of controlling histamine formation in fish and has a documented temperature control system.

Processors and distributors can also rely on sensory evaluation of fish upon receipt to screen for signs of spoilage, which is a common indicator of time-temperature abuse and possible histamine formation. Chemically testing for the presence of histamine is another way to screen fish upon receipt.

HOW WE HELP WITH HISTAMIE POISON PREVENTION

It all starts with education.  Our Seafood HACCP training course provides attendees with the knowledge necessary to prevent histamine formation (Scombrotoxin).  We show students how to properly utilize the Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance to identify hazards associated with specific species of fish.  We then discuss how to develop control strategies for proper monitoring of critical limits to keep seafood products safe.


For more information on preventing histamine poisoning, feel free to contact us or register for one of our upcoming Seafood HACCP courses.

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