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Histamine. Do you know what it is?


You have surely heard about histamine. But you may not know what causes it and why.

Itching, blushing, swollen face, headache, diarrhea… are some of the symptoms which can last from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the case.

Histamine toxicity is a form of food poisoning. The two main causes of histamine intoxication are unhygienic manipulation of fish and keeping it at inadequate temperatures. Therefore it is not too difficult to prevent this from happening.




This can also be the case with cheese, wine, processed pork products… but the histamine intoxication is more frequent with fish since the microorganisms which produce histamine thrive when the temperature of the fish is over 15ºC. If the temperature reaches 20ºC, the transformation increases considerably. This point has to be taken into account when processing fish at home in summer, as the temperature gets quite hot.

For this reason, we have to follow strict regulations and keep the fish at low temperatures from the moment it is caught until it is processed.




Histamine is produced by bacteria which deoxidize the histidine, an amino acid found in fish muscles when the fish dies and starts rotting.

When the fish doesn´t look nice it could mean that the muscles contain histamine because freshly caught fish don´t have any free histamine.

The regulations set the histamine limits for fish between 100 and 200 ppmm (mg of histamine per kg of fish), and between 200 and 400 ppmm for semi-preserves and marinades of fish).

The problem arises with the forming of histamine: The symptoms of intoxication appear in sensitive people when the level of histamine exceeds 500 ppm. And when this level reaches 1000 ppm or more any consumer can get a reaction. When the specific regulations are followed, there is no risk whatsoever for the consumer.

Apart from always selecting fresh fish and processing it at suitable temperature, Conservas Dentici-Olasagasti have introduced a new system for measuring the level of histamine in fish. This item is designed by the firm Biolan, together with Anfaco (Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes de Conservas), which carries out investigations in canned fish.




Therefore, Conservas Dentici-Olasagasti have become pioneer making use of this technology in the fish sector.

As soon as the fish enters our premises we instantly know the level of histamine it contains. Consequently any shipment which is not in perfect condition is not accepted. Previously this process needed a different control which took longer, so it was also more expensive and the result was not so immediate.



By means of this new item Conservas Olasagasti increase the control of the quality system and the support towards Quality and Innovation.



This is the reason why I always insist on consuming high quality products which are in perfect conditions: Those which you know and trust in. Since an adequate diet is one of the pillars of our health.

Marta Olass together with Sandra de Prado & Matteo Orlando.

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