T Nation

Tuna: Scombroid Poisoning


This is just an FYI for those of you who eat a lot of tuna.

Several months ago, I discovered some tuna at the back of my supplement cupboard. I checked the date and it said the tuna was still good, so I ripped the pack open and ate it.

Within 15 minutes, I had broken out with uctaria over most of my body, especially my face and stomach. The next day, the rash continued to spread, I had mild edema, my heart was racing, and I started feeling something close to paranoia. So I went to a doctor. The doctor gave me some antihistamines, which killed the rash after a couple of days.

Of course, I assumed I had developed an allergy to fish. But a subsequent appointment with an allergist turned up nothing. I slowly introduced fish back into my diet and came up with a working theory that maybe I'd had a mercury overdose or something.

Anyway, my mother in law is a medical transcriptionist and last week she ran across a case identical to mine. The reaction is called scombroid poisoning. It is temporary, but no fun. Anyone interested can do an Internet search to learn more. But the take home messages are:

  1. Do not let tuna sit around indefinitely.
  2. Do not store tuna in a cupboard above a light, next to an oven, or remotely near any heat source.

Like I said, scombroid poisoning turned out to not be that big a deal, but I thought I'd pass the knowledge on, just for the T-Nation knowledge base...


thanks for info, threw out old tuna, and i moved the new to a different location...



Thanks for the info.


...I'm now moving all my canned tuna and salmon into the fridge, thanks.


This is kinda off topic. But are Sardines (you know the ones you get in cans and all) good for you?, good source of fish? it's 20g of protein and 12g of fat...just wondering what you all thought?



Excellent source of omega-3's


I would say watch the sodium content of some of them, but sardines are pretty good, tasty snack. I prefer them in the mustard sauce.


Thanks for the advice rocket. I am wondering how much canned tuna is too much. For instance is it ideal to eat tuna 7 x a week or just once? I know that tuna has mercury, and too much mercury is very bad. ANy help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,



This has been a topic of much debate. Some say eating any amount of a large, predatory fish is dangerous. Others say it's no big deal. Personally, I eat fish once a week and take fish oil caplets on other days. I don't eat canned tuna at all anymore.