Determination of histamine and bacterial isolation in swordfish fillets (Xiphias gladius) implicated in a food borne poisoning

Department of Food Science and Technology, Tajen University, Pingtung, Taiwan, ROC
Food Control (Impact Factor: 2.81). 01/2008; 19(1):16-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodcont.2007.01.005


An incident of food borne poisoning causing illness in 43 victims due to ingestion of swordfish fillets occurred in December, 2004, in Taichung Prefecture, central Taiwan. Eight frozen raw swordfish fillets were collected from the suspected restaurant and analyzed for bacterial content and histamine-related quality. The levels of aerobic plate count, total coliform, and total volatile basic nitrogen in all samples ranged from 5.39 to 6.71 log CFU/g, <3–1360 most probable number (MPN)/g, and 6.44–14.56 mg/100 g, respectively. None of these samples contained Escherichia coli. The suspected swordfish fillets contained 85.9–293.7 mg/100 g of histamine greater than the hazard action level of 50 mg/100 g set by the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for tuna fish. Given the allergy-like symptoms of the victims and the high histamine content in the suspected swordfish fillets, this food borne poisoning was strongly suspected to be due to histamine intoxication. In addition, although ten histamine-producing bacteria strains, capable of producing 12.7–33.0 ppm of histamine in trypticase soy broth supplemented with 1.0% l-histidine, were identified as Staphylococcus sp. (one strain), S. aureus (two strains) and S. aureus subsp. aureus (seven strains), by 16S rDNA sequencing with PCR amplification, they were not determined to be the main contributors to histamine accumulation in suspected swordfish fillets.

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Available from: Yung-Hsiang Tsai, Apr 17, 2015
    • "From the biochemical viewpoint , histamine is obtained in scombroid fish (albacore, bonito, skipjack, Spanish mackerel, saury, etc.) by means of the enzymatic conversion of free and abundant histidine in muscle tissues (Cattaneo 2011; Lehane and Olley 2000; Rawles et al. 1996; Ruiz-Capillas and Moral 2004; Taylor 1986; Tortorella et al. 2014). However, the abundant presence of free histidine is reported in many fish products, including also (Antoine et al. 1999; Chang et al. 2008; Hungerford 2010; Taylor 1986): • Anchovies (Engraulis spp.) • Herring (Clupea spp.) • Pilchards (Sardina pilchardus) • Mahi-mahi (Coryphaena spp.) • Sardines (Sardinella spp.) • Swordfish (Xiphias gladius). "

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    • "In Taiwan, scombroid poisoning occurs occasionally and has commonly been associated with tuna, mackerel and black marlin (Chen & Malison, 1987; Chen et al., 2008; Tsai et al., 2005). However, sailfish, swordfish and marlin have recently become the fish species most frequently implicated in scombroid outbreaks in Taiwan (Chang, Kung, Chen, Lin, & Tsai, 2008; Chen et al., 2010b; Chen, Lee, Lin, Hwang, & Tsai, 2010; Tsai et al., 2007a). "
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    • "Mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines, marlin Japan 1970-1980 4122 Taylor (1986) Dried horse mackerel Japan 1973 2656 Taylor (1986) Tuna, mackerel Italy 1979 250 Molinari et al. (1989) Yellowtail South Africa 1992 22 Müller et al. (1992) Tuna (fresh/frozen, canned), mackerel United Kingdom 1987-1996 243 (sporadic) Scoging (1998) 105 (general) 56 (family) Fish USA 1993-1997 297 Olsen et al. (2000) Yellowtail South Africa 2004 19 Anonymous (2004) Canned mackerel Taiwan 2001 3 Tsai et al. (2005b) Tuna South Africa 2004 1 Auerswald et al. (2006) Fish USA 1998-2002 463 Lynch et al. (2006) Swordfish Taiwan 2004 43 Chang et al. (2008) Dried milk fish Taiwan 2006 3 Huang et al. (2010) Fried fish cubes Taiwan 2007 347 Chen et al. (2010) According to the FDA guidelines (FDA, 2011), the toxicity and defect action levels of histamine, established for tuna, mahi-mahi, and related fish, are the 50 mg/100 g and 5 mg/100 g, respectively; the term " defect action level " refers to the level of histamine naturally or inevitably occurring in foods without, however, presenting a considerable hazard for humans. According to the EU Regulation No 2073/2005 nine samples should be taken from each batch of fish species of the following families: Scombridae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae , Coryfenidae, Pomatomidae, Scombresosidae. "
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