Original Message
Re: transport stress and fish safety
Tuesday, September 04, 2001 8:06 AM

Dear Peter

I've been asked about possible effects of transport stress on product safety of aquacultured fish. These people are talking about release of "histamine and other toxic compounds" in fish during trasport to slaughtering house, and are concerned about possible effects of this stress on fish safety. I checked the literature, but just found effects of
stress on fish quality (texture, onset and duration or rigor mortis an so on)
and nothing about this histamine stress-related formation.

Any information would be really appreciated.

Umberto Luzzana


Dear Umberto

I think you should question these reports, and ask for evidence of, or a mechanism for, the production of histamine or other toxic compounds in stressed fish. Chapters by Pottinger, T.G., 'Effects of husbandry stress
on flesh quality indicators in fish', and Erikson, U., 'Potential effects of preslaughter fasting, handling and transport', in Kestin, S.C. & Warriss, P.D., eds., 2001, Farmed Fish Quality, Fishing News Book, Oxford, England, pp 145-160 and 202-219 respectively, refer to the release of cortisol and catecholamines as a response to stress in fish, but no mention of production of histamine. Fish caught from the wild are subjected to stress and I am not aware of any reports that the stress of capture and death results in any hazard to consumers. Given the long history of fishing, any such hazard would surely have been noted by now. Indeed, measurements of histamine content of fish, including farmed fish, show it is not present in fish muscle other than under some conditions of storage.

Peter Howgate