Histamine is a biogenic compound, which is naturally found in the human body. It is mainly derived from the dissolution (decarboxylation) of the histidine amino acid. It is present in normal functions of the human body related to local immune reactions, gastric acid secretion and the neuromodulation process. Histamine is also present in inflammatory reactions in the human body and, if consumed at high levels, it can cause symptoms like those of an allergic reaction.
Histamine poisoning, or “scombroid” poisoning, is a food poisoning which was originally associated with the consumption of fish that mainly belong to the Scombridae family (mackerel, tuna, Spanish mackerel, bonito). These fish, like fish belonging to other families (sardines, herring, anchovies, gophers, swordfish), naturally contain high concentrations of the histamine compound. In addition to fish, the consumption of mature cheese is the most common category of food associated with histamine poisoning. However, there are other categories of foods that contain high concentrations of histamine, such as fermented foods (cold cuts, pickles, red wine), soy sauce and miso. .
In the case of fish, the production of histamine, namely the result of the decarboxylation of the histidine amino acid, takes place through a reaction catalyzed by the enzyme decarboxylase and is directly related to the presence of a high number of microorganisms – bacteria. Thus, one of the main reasons that can lead to histamine poisoning in the case of fish is the ‘waiting period’ in relation to the status of time and temperature. That is, at some point after the batch is caught, the fish are most likely exposed to relatively high temperatures for a certain amount of time that allows the bacteria to multiply and the histidine to decompose.
There are significant differences between individuals regarding sensitivity to histamine poisoning. According to European legislation (Regulation 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for food), the concentration of histamine in fish products from fish species associated with a high amount of histamine is considered acceptable, if among the nine samples tested, the average observed concentration is 100 mg / kg, where a maximum of both samples has a concentration between 100 and 200 mg / kg and no concentration exceeds the limit of 200 mg / kg. Higher concentrations of histamine are prescribed by law in fish products that have undergone enzymatic maturation in salt, as well as in fish sauces prepared via the fermentation of fish products.
Nowadays, cases of histamine poisoning are encountered mainly due to low quality production practices of salted fish, which do not undergo – as in our case – heat treatment, mature for a long time and are preserved exclusively in salt. These products are also packaged in tin cans but are kept in the refrigerator and in no case can they be considered the same as canned fish that have been heat treated – sterilized and kept out of the refrigerator until opened.
At our company, we are proud of the fact that the time needed, from the moment the fish is caught to the moment it is packaged, is less than 24 hours, which is the ideal period for our products to maintain their freshness…