People can have different types of reactions to amines. The most common reaction is a slow, subtle build-up reaction that is hard to spot. More sensitive individuals, or individuals who have consumed high doses of amines, may notice a specific amine reaction on the day, the night, or the following day after eating amine-containing foods.
Typical culprits of amine-poisoning reactions include:
- Some red wines and live beers
- Fermented and aged foods
- Strong cheeses
- Fish that is not fresh enough
- Meats that have been hung or aged
Reactions of this kind are usually due to high doses of tyramine, histamine, or glutamate.
It is possible to ostensibly do the failsafe diet for months without ever noticing an amine reaction, because you are still eating too many amines in unsafe meat. This means that your symptoms can remain chronic and you may dismiss food chemical intolerance as a cause of your symptoms. Please ensure you have followed the guidelines below.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit advise that:
- Meat should be less than two weeks from slaughter when purchased
- Meat should not be stored frozen for more than one month
Depending on your sensitivity level you may have to tighten up these rules further. Some very sensitive individuals do not tolerate meat that is more than a few days old.
What you should avoid:
- Vacuum packed meat of any kind is very high in amines and is likely to be several months old. It is standard practice in supermarkets in the UK, Australia and the US to “wet age” meat in vacuum packs for around three months before putting it on sale.
- Meat sold as “fresh” at supermarket counters has usually been vacuum packed prior to sale and is likely to be of a similar age to vacuum packed meat.
- Pork naturally contains amines and must be avoided. Even freshly slaughtered organic pork.
- All oily/dark flesh fish like tuna and salmon contain amines, so stick to white fish only.
- Supermarket chicken can be very variable in quality and is often around ten days old prior to sale, having been stored and transported for many miles. Cheap chicken may contain injected flavour enhancers.
- Beef from butcher’s shops is usually hung prior to sale and is likely to be around three weeks old. “Quality” butchers often hang meat for around six weeks prior to sale. This is too old for failsafers.
What you should do:
- Find a beef supplier whom you can trust who will give you an accurate slaughter date, and perhaps butcher your meat to order for you. Veal may be a safer option as it does not require hanging to tenderise (note: only white veal is cruel, veal per se is just a young animal). Medium quality butchers and market vendors will often sell beef without hanging it for very long. The meat will be tougher, but much fresher. Very tough meat can be stewed, roasted and minced.
- Lamb is safer than beef as it is not usually hung for more than a week or two before sale.
- Fresh, non-vacuum packed chicken is typically safe but do not eat the skin, as it contains amines. Whole chickens are the best option as they are not normally vacuum packed. Avoid cheap chickens as they are often brined and injected with flavour enhancers. Organic chickens are the safest in this respect. Do not eat ground/minced chicken as the mince usually contains the skin. If you want to make a soup or stock, remove the skin from the chicken carcass first. Chicken can be very variable in quality due to the dubious handling practices of some suppliers. If you think you may have had an amine reaction to chicken, keep trying new suppliers, you will eventually find a reliable source.
- White fish should be bought from fresh fish counters only. The eyes of the fish should not be cloudy, and the fish should be resting on ice.
- Buy from the back of the fridge. Ask for fish that is nearest to the ice or for cuts of meat that have to be butchered to order in the back of the shop. Select dairy products from the back of the fridge where the temperature is coldest.
All of these things really do make a huge difference – it’s worth doing them!