I think I suffered scombroid food poisoning, together with some other people. I actually got the worst of it. The others experienced pain in the mouth. I had facial flushing and tachycardia as well.

This is not the first time this happens as we've experienced pain from both tuna and bonito. Both cooked and raw (tartar).

According to the Wikipedia, this can be due to inappropriate handling of the fish. I bought this last bonito from a fish shop five minutes walking away. I guess it's hardly likely that the error was on me, but I won't rule it out neither. My handling of the bonito was to cut it up, put it into a vacuum bag and freeze. The batch that made us ill was vacuum and unfrozen. I've got more tuna from the same batch in the freezer, so I'll have to throw that out. That's one shop where I'm not buying anymore.

Is there a way of testing for histamine to prevent future problems?

  • I threw the whole batch out. Aug 25, 2011 at 21:34
  • I don't know if it would work in this case, but if it's a histamine reaction, it's possible that the survival technique used for testing for safe food would work -- you crush up a plant a bit, then rub it on the inside of your arm, opposite the elbow. If you develop a rash over the next few days, it's obviously not safe to eat (at least in the prepared form you tested; you have to try raw vs. each cooked preparation) ... and this is only one of the initial tests ... and I'd still rather not risk it, myself, and just pitch it.
    – Joe
    Aug 29, 2011 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


If you say that your handling of the fish was a 5 minute walk and to cut it up and freeze it, it is more than likely that the contamination occurred during the supply chain. Once the enzyme histidine decarboxylase has been formed, it can continue to produce histamine in the fish even if the bacteria are not active.

There are test kits available for checking histamine levels but they are intended for commercial use. http://www.noackgroup.com/Live/ProductCatalog_en.YoCms?GROUP=%24D_FAA_07_01#_1NEO9505 is one of the places that has them.

  • The answer above re testing the raw tuna on the skin is very, very interesting. Precooked tuna in a factory that is elevated in histamine will cause reactions with the fish cleaners. In the very old days, the itching reaction on the sensitive individuals sometimes was the first indication of histamine problems. Generally the inside area of the fingers were the first to feel it. The histamine is heat stable and will only increase. i will test the idea the next time we have access to high histamine fish. Just a great idea. Jan 22, 2014 at 6:35

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