Scombroid Poisoning

Scombroid poisoning is a type of food intoxication caused by consuming scombroid and scombroid-like marine fish species that have begun to spoil with the growth of certain types of bacteria.  Fish most commonly associated are members of the Scombridae family, tuna and mackerel.  A few non-scrombridae species have also shown to cause this poisoning: bluefish, dolphin or mahi-mahi, and amberjack.  The toxin is an elevated level of histamine produced by bacterial breakdown of substances in the muscle protein.  The toxins are not destroyed by freezing, cooking, smoking, pickling, or canning.


Studies have shown that toxic histamine levels can be reached within 12 hours or as little as 2 hours if the catch is not placed on ice or refrigerated.  The noted species above should receive care in handling, washing, and proper icing, refrigeration or freezing to prevent the bacterial growth and spoilage.