Urocanic acid production was studied in 166 bacterial cultures isolated from mahimahi which had been stored for 14 days on ice in seawater. After 4 days of incubation at 10°C in histidine-supplemented Trypticase soy broth (BBL Microbiology Systems, Cockeysville, Md.), urocanic acid was measured by thin-layer chromatography. Fifty-eight of the cultures were positive for urocanic acid, with the eight most active isolates producing ca. 10 mg/100 ml. These observations, coupled with a report that urocanic acid may be the predominant histidine metabolite in fish held at low temperatures, all suggest that urocanic acid may be a useful alternative to histamine as a spoilage index in scombroid and other fish that are rich in endogenous histidine
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