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Two qualitative and one quantitative HPLC methods were evaluated for the detection of biogenic amine producers among wild dairy lactococcal and leuconostoc strains. High tyramine producers ranging from 370 to 807 mg l−1 were detected by qualitative methods and confirmed by HPLC analysis. Tyramine levels detected throughout the incubation time depended on the concentration of the amino acid precursor available and no tyramine production was observed when strains were grown in milk. However, increasing amounts of tyramine were detected in cultures grown in milk supplemented with different concentrations of tyrosine. Qualitative methods failed to detect weak producers so that tryptamine production (<7 mg l−1) could only be determined by HPLC. None of the tested strains was able to produce histamine. Simultaneous production of different amines was observed by HPLC although no colour change was observed in the specific decarboxylase media. Thus, it was concluded that the amine forming ability should be taken into account when selecting starters for milk fermentations. Qualitative methods could be used as a first screening step to eliminate the highest amine producers while the quantitative methods would detect any producing strain.