Biogenic amines (BA) are amino acid derivatives, and are formed during fermentation (e.g., cheese ripening and wine fermentation) and decomposition of protein, usually fish. These biogenic amines include histamine, tyramine, cadaverine, putrecine, and related metabolites. They may cause adverse effects and are involved in several pathogenic syndromes.
The most dangerous BAs, histamine and tyramine, are most often found in fish like tuna, sardines, anchovies or cheese, and can lead to “scombroid fish poisoning” and “cheese reaction” respectively. Food BA content has been linked to the poor hygiene of non-fermented foods, but the potential to produce BAs is widespread in gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, including strains used as starter cultures.