Microbial production of histamine and the imperatives of processed food consumption

Food processing and storage increase the value chain of food items, both for commercial purposes and for future use by peasant producers. The roles of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and yeasts in the processing of dairy, brewed, bakery and traditionally fermented foods cannot be over-emphasized. These organisms improve the nutritional contents and organoleptic properties of these foods. However, certain undesired products, especially from protein-rich foods, notably, biogenic amines often characterize the process. This is usually a physiologic response by the organisms to the food environments such as pH, and is often influenced by temperature, time and salt concentration. Histamine production during such a process often results in the accumulation of exogenous histamine in the foods, thereby constituting health hazards to the consumers. Histamine food poisoning affects virtually every system of the body due to the widespread physiological roles of histamine in the body, presenting a wide range of symptoms that make diagnosis difficult. More regulated scientific approaches should be adopted by food processors and handlers especially in the developing countries where technologies may not be available.

 Ezema James Nnabuike, Agbo Esther Chinedu and Eze Emmanuel Aniebonam