Fish Allergies How to Shop

July 13, 2012

Shopping for you or a friend with a fish allergy? Find out the essentials here.

Shopping with allergies in mind is always a task, especially when hungry, in a rush, or just want to try something new. There are eight common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, eggs, milk, fish and shellfish. Today’s article will focus on how to shop and dine with a fish allergy.

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), nearly 2.3 percent of Americans are allergic to seafood, including fish and shellfish. Today’s article focuses on fish specifically and salmon, tuna, and halibut are the most common kinds of fish to which people are allergic. A fish allergy is lifelong and it’s unlikely that one will “grow out of it.” Approximately forty percent of those with a fish allergy first experience the allergic reaction as an adult.

To avoid a reaction, strict avoidance of fish and most seafood products is essential. In addition, avoid touching fish, going to the fish market, and being in an area where fish is being cooked because similar to a general seafood allergy, the protein in the steam may present a risk.

Always read ingredient labels to identify fish ingredients, some unexpected sources of fish include, salad dressing, worcestershire sauce, dressings, bouillabaisse, imitation fish or shellfish, meatloaf, fish sticks, and barbecue sauce (some are made with worcestershire).

It is important to keep in mind that if you have seafood allergy, you should avoid seafood restaurants. Even if you order a non-seafood item, cross-contact with seafood is possible. Asian restaurants often use fish sauce as a flavoring base so exercise caution or avoid these restaurants.

Some interesting points FAAN highlights are: Carrageenan does not need to be avoided. It is not fish and is actually "Irish moss," a red marine algae. It is used in a wide variety of foods, particularly dairy, as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener. It appears safe for most individuals with food allergies. In addition iodine allergy is not related to a fish or shellfish allergy. Those with a fish allergy should be mindful of the many products (milk, meal replacement bars, chocolates, yogurt, etc) that boast omega-3s, as some of the omegas do come from fish and shellfish. If you are looking to boost your omega-3 intake look for vegetarian sources of omegas like chia seeds, hemp, and flaxseeds.

Many people who are allergic to fish or shellfish are allergic to more than one kind. Get tested and have your allergies confirmed by a physician so that you know what to avoid.

If you are dining out, sending your child to school, a friend’s house, and more, you will find our Food Allergy Buddy & Celiac BFF very useful.