Reduction in biogenic amines in douchi fermented by probiotic bacteria

Long Yan Fiona FONG, Ka Yam LAM, Chun San LAU, Kin Hei HO, Yeuk Hei KAN, Mui Yee POON, Hani EL-NEZAMI, Eric Tung Po SZE

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Ecology studies showed that esophageal and gastric cancers are directly correlated with the consumption of processed foods. The carcinogenicity of traditional Chinese fermented foods such as douchi (fermented black beans or fermented black soybeans) is due to the presence of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds, which are derived from biogenic amines. Among the various biogenic amines that can act as precursors of N-nitroso compounds, histamine and tyramine are considered to be the most toxic and are of public health concern when present in food. We have examined some douchi products on the market, and significant amounts of histamine and tyramine were found. The use of fermentation starters generated by subculturing fermented products with unknown microbiota would induce the risk of biogenic amines. As the microbiota used in fermentation is a crucial factor in determining the biogenic amines of fermented food, it is hypothesized that the possible harmful effects of douchi can be minimized through the use of fermentation starters composed of probiotic bacteria. This is the first study to investigate the potential of using probiotic bacteria in manufacturing douchi. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) and Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) were used to ferment black beans in this study, and no tyramine was detected in black bean samples incubated with these three strains anaerobically at 37°C or 20°C. The starter culture strains, temperature and presence of oxygen during the incubation period were found to be critical to the generation of biogenic amines. The findings of this study can provide evidence-based insights and warrant further investigations on the potential of reducing the harmful compounds in food fermented with probiotic bacteria as well as the sensory evaluation of douchi fermented with probiotic bacteria. Copyright © 2020 Fong et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230916
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


Fong, F. L. Y., Lam, K. Y., Lau, C. S., Ho, K. H., Kan, Y. H., Poon, M. Y., . . . Sze, E. T. P. (2020). Reduction in biogenic amines in douchi fermented by probiotic bacteria. PLoS One, 15(3). Retrieved from


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