Since bacteria are killed by thorough cooking, most consumers assume that they can avoid any food poisoning risk simply by cooking fish thoroughly before eating. This dangerous illusion probably contributes to tuna's status as the #3 cause of food poisoning in the United States.

The most common cause of seafood-related poisoning is called scombrotoxin, and the condition it causes is called scombroid poisoning.

Scombrotoxin is just concentrated histamine, the same chemical that the immune system produces in response to foreign attack. When the bodies of fish heat up past about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, scombrotoxin starts to build up. The human body reacts to eating scombrotoxin as it would to its own histamines, with loss of breath, flushing, headaches, cramps, diarrhea and loss of vision. In asthmatics, these symptoms can cause death.


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