At least 35 people across Spain have been affected by a form of food poisoning known as Scombroid fish poisoning, prompting an advisory from the Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition (Aecosan) not to consume and recall lots of tuna from Almeria purchased between April 25 and May 5, according to a El Mundo report (computer translated).


The bulk of the cases have been reported from Andalusia and Madrid.

The tuna involved in the outbreak was marketed in different lots by the Almerian company Garciden and was distributed in the autonomous communities of Murcia, Valencia, Aragon, Andalusia, Castilla y León, the Basque Country, Madrid and Catalonia, and at the European level in Germany, Italy and Portugal.

All the patients experienced mild symptoms and none required hospitalization for their illness.

Scombroid fish poisoning is an acute syndrome characterized by facial flushing, sweating, rash, a burning or peppery taste in the mouth, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps and usually resolve within several hours without medical intervention.

This is due to histamine toxicity from the ingestion of spoiled fish. The fish do not contain high levels of histamine when caught; instead they have histidine in their flesh. Histamine is produced during spoilage from common surface bacteria on the fish. The histamine is not destroyed by cooking.

The type of fish implicated in this food poisoning are mainly of the scombroid type; tuna, mackerel, skipjack and albacore. Some non-scombroid fish such as mahimahi, bluefish, anchovies, and herring have been implicated.

Risks are greatest for fish imported from tropical and semi-tropical areas and fish caught by recreational fisherman who may not have the refrigerated storage for larger fish.

In addition to the symptoms above, which generally appear quite rapidly (within minutes to hours), more severe symptoms may include difficulty in swallowing, respiratory distress and blurred vision. People on isoniazid may have more severe symptoms. Anti histamines are given in severe cases. Deaths are rare.

Adequate and rapid refrigeration of the fish will prevent spoilage.

The diagnosis is made on symptoms and tends to be fairly evident. Several people may come down with this at the same time.

There is no laboratory testing on the patient that is considered helpful. Measuring histamine levels on the suspected fish can be used for confirmation.