Why Histamine can fail your fish export business

Histamine in tuna export – Histamine in fish is one of the problems in the tuna/ fish industry. It is an issue to both local & export market. Tuna is a species of Scombridae. Scombrids have two dorsal fins and a series of finlets behind the rear dorsal fin and anal fin. They are generally predators in open ocean. Tuna is a migratory species. Bluefin & yellowfin could grow & weight more than 100 kgs. It is one of the most sough after fishes in the commercial world.

So, what is histamine ? Histamine could be used as an indicator to detect early stage of decomposition, hygiene & mishandling. If fish/ tuna is mishandled in warm temperature, it could easily build up chemical compound called histamine. Histamine in fish could be tested in accredited laboratory or using test kits to check its ppm level. The higher the ppm result, the higher is the decomposition level. That is why in order to check the freshness of fish, usually inspectors would use histamine as an indicator.

Export destination countries such as the European Union and the United States have histamine limit in accordance with the safe consumption limit. The United States has a standard in fish histamine level. US Food Drug Administration mentioned that good fish should contain histamine level below 10 ppm. If the fish contains more than 50 ppm then it is considered as defect action level. If fish contains higher than 500 ppm, it could cause toxicity. Food safety problems causes the rejection case of tuna/ fish in this destination country, especially histamine levels that exceed certain limit. Consuming tuna with high histamine levels is dangerous to the human body. Then, what causes the increasing histamine levels in tuna ?

Histamine in Tuna Export

Histamine in tuna exports is an important parameter. The presence of histamine in tuna must be considered, because high histamine will cause export rejection by the destination country. Then, what causes the increased histamine content in tuna? Let’s find out

The causes of increasing Histamine in tuna 

Histamine in tuna increases due to errors in handling and processing process. One of the causes is the process on the fishing boat. If the fisherman mishandles the freshly caught tuna, the histidine in tuna can be converted into a toxic compound called histamine. Histamine usually increases at high temperatures. High level of histamine in tuna is usually harmful to consumers’ health. This inadequate handling process could cause tuna rejection problem in importing countries. This export failure will increase costs and make exporters lose a lot of money. The study of Ibnu Affiano said that the cost of reducing the temperature of tuna is expensive. Therefore it poses the risk of improper handling that can lead to high histamine content in fish/ tuna. Histamine forming bacteria are naturally present in the gills and intestines of fish. Then, how do you deal with histamine problems in tuna?

How to slow down the formation of histamine 

The handling of tuna on the fishing boat is one of the main factors in slowing down the formation of histamine. Histamine level in tuna will increase at high temperatures (more than 20 degree Celsius). Immediately freezing the freshly caught fishes is very crucial to prevent the increase of histamine. Histamine formation is blocked at 0′ Celsius or lower. In 2011 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set a critical temperature limit for the development of histamine in fish bodies at 4.4′ Celsius. This means that temperature is one of the key factors that determine the formation of histamine levels.

Tuna/ fish exporters must pay attention to this issue when handling tuna/ fish. Handling tuna/ fish correctly is critical. Not to mention storing tuna at a cold temperature is also critical. The purpose of handling & storing tuna correctly is to minimize the formation of histamine. Because once histamine is increasing higher, there is no way to reverse the histamine level.

The Importance of Laboratory Testing for Histamine on tuna/ fish before export

For the fish/ tuna to pass the custom import check, exporters must carry out laboratory testing on a list of microbiology, chemical & heavy metals parameters. One of the important parameters is histamine parameter. Other than laboratory, exporters could also test tuna histamine using test kits such as Veratox Histamine and Reveal Histamine. BaliSeafoodLab could offer you free training on the histamine test kits.

Veratox Histamine

After laboratory testing, the results of the histamine test in certificate of Analysis will show whether the tunas/ fishes have met the histamine limit or not. If it meets the standards, exporters can proceed to export the products. This histamine test could help exporters to avoid container rejection in destination countries. Therefore, it is very important to test histamine prior to exporting. Only histamine testing result will proof if the tuna handling, storing or other food safety processes are fruitful.

Finally, we now know that high histamine in tuna is one of the factors that causes container rejection. It is simply because high level of histamine is causing illness to consumers. It is very important to pay attention to how tuna is handled after being caught. The purpose is to keep the histamine level as low as possible. Laboratory testing is also very important as it could help to prevent container rejection in destination countries. So, if you are a tuna exporter, it is mandatory for you to know what causes the histamine in tuna/ fish and how to inhibit it. If you need laboratory testing and test kits for tuna/ fish, PT Seafood Inspection Laboratory provides both histamine testing services & histamine test kits. Let Us be your laboratory. 



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