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Assessment of the incidents of histamine intoxication in some EU countries

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According to its mission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shall provide scientific advice and scientific and technical support for the Community's legislation and policies in all fields that have a direct or indirect impact on food and feed safety, including the investigation of multinational food-borne outbreaks. Upon a request of the Commission, EFSA assessed the incidents of histamine intoxication in some European Union (EU) countries that were linked to consumption of tuna and were notified through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). The contribution provided by EFSA included provision of information from the monitoring of food-borne outbreaks as well as an in-depth analysis of the food data and technical assistance to the Commission in the tracing-back analyses of implicated food in the affected Member States. Data and information on the food product implicated in the specific incidents, including tracing-back information as well as epidemiological and analytical data, were extracted from the notifications posted by the involved Member States in RASFF. The aim of the assessment was to evaluate all incidents of histamine intoxication to highlight common factors in the food distribution chain that have potentially contributed to the occurrence of human cases, and to verify the possible correlation upstream in the food supply chain through one of the food business operators involved. Due to the nature of histamine and the conditions that favour its production, it is likely that several concurrent factors have occurred in several stages along the food chain. It is recommended that adequate chilling rates, cold chain and hygienic conditions are maintained at each step of the supply chain of this product. Any relevant information on food investigations should be shared by the involved Member States by issuing relevant notifications in RASFF.