Histamine susceptible fish

Fish of the family Scombridae, Coryphaenidae, Pomatomidae, Carangidae, Clupeidae, Engraulidae or Scomberesocidae

Back to Tests applied to risk food

Reference HIS 12/2016

All imported food must comply with Australia’s biosecurity import conditions.

Check the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) to determine if the food you intend to import requires an import permit or a treatment or if it must meet any other conditions. All biosecurity requirements must be met before Imported Food Inspection Scheme requirements apply.

Imported Food Inspection Scheme risk food

Fish classified as risk food for histamine are fish of the family:

  • Scombridae (for example, tuna, mackerel and bonito)
  • Coryphaenidae (for example, mahi-mahi)
  • Pomatomidae (for example, bluefish)
  • Carangidae (for example, trevallies, jacks and pompanos)
  • Clupeidae (for example, herrings, sardines)
  • Engraulidae (for example, anchovy)
  • Scomberesocidae (for example, king gars and saury)

Fish products containing more than 300 g/kg (30%) of all or any of the fish named above are also classified as risk food.

The Australian fish names standard AS SSA 5300 may be used as a reference. The Fisheries Research & Development Corporation’s ‘fish names database’ assists with searching the standard by scientific and common names. This database informs inquirers of the species, genus and family in which a fish is classified.

The fish may be whole, fillets or in portions. This includes fish or fish products that are:

  • raw (fresh, chilled or frozen)
  • processed (cooked, smoked, dried and pickled)
  • retorted — the final product is in a hermetically sealed (airtight) container and has been heat treated (retorted) within this container so that the final product is shelf stable (not requiring refrigeration).

Food excluded from this testing

  • food containing 300 g/kg (30%) or less of the fish named above; for example, TV dinner (such as tuna mornay) and frozen meals.

Risk food sampling

When goods are referred for inspection and testing, an authorised officer:

  • will take samples for each product type
  • will take five sample units per lot for analysis
  • will take samples from the lower forward portion of the fish loin when sampling whole fish.

​Samples taken from the fish loin are likely to provide the best information about histamine levels in the fish.

For more detail on sampling refer to Imported Food Notice 07-18 - Food sampling under the Imported Food Inspection Scheme.

Hazard testing

Table 1 shows risk food tests applied to imported histamine susceptible fish and permitted results.

Table 1 Hazard, test applied and permitted result

Test applied

Permitted result


HistamineMaximum level 200 mg/kg
Label and composition assessment Food Standards Code chapters 1 and 2
Visual assessment Imported Food Control Act 1992 section 3(2)(a)(vii) and 3(2)(b)

Test: Listeria monocytogenes may be an additional test. Refer to Ready-to-eat processed finfish

Version history


Amendment details

11/10/2019HIS 12/2016Update to the webpage to include a link to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation’s fish names database.
08/08/2017HIS 12/2016Update to the webpage to provide additional detail about the sampling of histamine susceptible fish and fish products.
21/12/2016HIS 12/2016Updates the webpage to reflect amendments to the Imported Food Control Order 2001 to classify more species of fish and fish products as risk foods.
1/5/2014SCM 05/2014Replaces Imported Food Notice 09/12 Tests applied to risk category foods
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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