Nanotech 2010

Determination of Histamine and Histamine-forming Bacteria in Dried Milkfish Products Implicated in a Food Borne Poisoning and Sold in Retail markets

Y.H. Tsai, Y.C. Lee
National Kaohsiung Marine University, TW

Keywords: histamine, dried milkfish, histamine-forming bacteria, safety


An incident of food-borne poisoning causing illness in three victims due to ingestion of dried milkfish occurred in February, 2006, in Tainan Prefecture, southern Taiwan. The leftovers of the victims’ dried milkfish and thirty-two dried milkfish products sold in five retail markets in southern Taiwan were collected and tested to determine the occurrence of histamine and histamine-forming bacteria. The suspected milkfish sample contained 61.6 mg/100 g of histamine, which is greater than the hazard action level of 50 mg/100 g. Given the allergy-like symptoms of the victims and the high histamine content in the suspected milkfish sample, this food-borne poisoning was strongly suspected to be due to histamine intoxication. Except for histamine and cadaverine, the average content of various biogenic amines in commercial dried milkfish products was less than 8.5 mg/100g. Most of the tested samples (78.1%) had histamine levels greater than the FDA guideline of 5 mg/100g for scombroid fish and/or product, while fourteen of them (43.7 %) contained > 50 mg/100g hazard action level. R. ornithinolytica isolate isolated from suspected milkfish sample was proven to be a prolific histamine-former with a consistent ability to produce 1243 ppm histamine in trypticase soy broth supplemented with 1.0% L-histidine (TSBH). Thirty histamine-producing bacterial strains isolated from retail milkfish samples, capable of producing 5.4 ppm to 562 ppm of histamine in TSBH, were identified as Enterobacter aerogenes (seven strains), Citrobacter sp. (one strain), Staphylococcus xylosus (ten strains), S. sciuri (one strain), Bacillus thuringiensis (two strains), Citrobacter freundii (five strains), Klebsiella pneumoniae (one strain) and E. cloacae (three strains).
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