An incident of food-borne poisoning causing illness in 37 victims due to ingestion of fried fish sticks occurred in September 2014, in Tainan city, southern Taiwan. Leftovers of the victims' fried fish sticks and 16 other raw fish stick samples from retail stores were collected and tested to determine the occurrence of histamine and histamine-forming bacteria. Two suspected fried fish samples contained 86.6 mg/100 g and 235.0 mg/100 g histamine; levels that are greater than the potential hazard action level (50 mg/100 g) in most illness cases. Given the allergy-like symptoms of the victims and the high histamine content in the suspected fried fish samples, this food-borne poisoning was strongly suspected to be caused by histamine intoxication. Moreover, the fish species of suspected samples was identified as milkfish (Chanos chanos), using polymerase chain reaction direct sequence analysis. In addition, four of the 16 commercial raw milkfish stick samples (25%) had histamine levels greater than the US Food & Drug Administration guideline of 5.0 mg/100 g for scombroid fish and/or products. Ten histamine-producing bacterial strains, capable of producing 373-1261 ppm of histamine in trypticase soy broth supplemented with 1.0% L-histidine, were identified as Enterobacter aerogenes (4 strains), Enterobacter cloacae (1 strain), Morganella morganii (2 strains), Serratia marcescens (1 strain), Hafnia alvei (1 strain), and Raoultella orithinolytica (1 strain), by 16S ribosomal DNA sequencing with polymerase chain reaction amplification. © 2015, Food and Drug Administration, Taiwan. Published by Elsevier Taiwan LLC.

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