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Histamine intolerance is relatively unknown. However, approximately one percent of the human population is affected by it; these are primarily women.

Persons concerned are unable to properly break down histamine. The resulting histamine excess results in various symptoms, e.g. headaches, skin rashes, diarrhea or vomiting.

Individuals suffering from a histamine intolerance must avoid consuming food that is rich in histamine. This includes food that was brewed or fermented, for example, wine, cheese, beer, sauerkraut, vinegar or soy sauce. Other food may also be hard to digest for allergy sufferers, for example, eggs, meat products, yeast, mushrooms, tomatoes or citrus fruit.

In addition to the allergenic potential, histamine is also an indicator of spoiled fish. Fish with a high histamine content is associated with the so-called scombroid fish poisoning. High-quality, fresh fish contains less than 10 ppm histamine. However, if fresh fish is exposed to elevated temperatures, the growth of the normally-occurring microorganisms is accelerated in protein-rich food. This leads to an increased decomposition of histidine to histamine. Thus, depending on the species of bacteria, temperature and exposure duration, levels of histamine exceeding 1,000 ppm can be achieved.

Due to the possible health-related problems that can occur following the consumption of food with an increased level of histamine, a few countries have specified limit values. This limit value for fish and fish products in many countries is around 100 mg/kg, in some countries it is even at 50 mg/kg. In Switzerland, the limit value of 10 mg/l that was introduced for wine has now been abolished.

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