Tuesday, 06 August 2019 08:28

Italy: Risk of increased histamine outbreaks across Europe

Histamine food poisoning – also known as scombroid fish poisoning – could increase in Europe if trading trends continue, according to new researcher. Histamine food poisoning is akin to an allergic reaction caused by eating fish containing a high concentration of histamine. Scombroid fish like tuna and mackerel are commonly implicated with the poisoning. Histamine poisoning typically results in the immediate onset of symptoms after the meal. Symptoms may include headache, hot flashes, rash, nausea, palpitations and diarrhea. Histamine contamination generally occurs because of inadequate refrigeration of fish and can occur at any stage of the food production chain. Once contaminated the disease cannot be destroyed by cooking, smoking or freezing.  


European fresh tuna imports have increased by 5% per year on average between 2011 and 2015. If this trend continues the incidence of poisoning will likely also increase. According to the European Food Safety Authority and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control histamine outbreaks peaked in 2017 with 117 outbreaks involving 572 patients. The cases occurred mainly in France and Spain. Since 2010 Italy has recorded 10 outbreaks of scombroid poisoning in fish from Spain, Sri Lanka and India.