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Food Chem Toxicol. 1989 May;27(5):283-7.

The histamine content of oriental foods.

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Mast Cell Physiology Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Several of the symptoms of scombroid poisoning (i.e. histamine toxicity) resemble those observed in people suffering from Chinese restaurant syndrome. Therefore, the histamine content of representative Chinese cuisine, which included 31 common dishes, 12 condiments and 12 basic ingredients from several sources, was measured using a sensitive and specific radioenzymatic assay. A further enzymatic procedure involving diamine oxidase was used to verify that the substance measured was histamine. A total of 184 assays were performed on 57 samples in the study. High levels of histamine were found in the cheeses, which were used as positive controls (863.6 micrograms histamine/g blue cheese and 107.4 micrograms histamine/g Parmesan cheese), and in some common condiments, including tamari (2392.2 micrograms histamine/g sample) and one brand of soy sauce (220.4 micrograms histamine/g sample). The histamine content of four condiments and three common dishes was over 10 micrograms histamine/g sample, while four condiments and 16 common dishes contained less than 1 microgram histamine/g sample. Calculations involving representative amounts of food that can be consumed at a typical oriental meal suggest that, in some cases, histamine intake may approach toxic levels. The results are discussed with regard to the possible role of histamine in reactions associated with restaurant meals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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