Stay Safe with a Seafood Allergy

January 31, 2013

Did you know that over 60 percent of those with a shellfish allergy first experience the allergic reaction as an adult? Find out what to avoid here

Over 60 percent of those with a shellfish allergy first experience the allergic reaction as an adult! According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), nearly 7 million Americans are allergic to seafood, including fish and shellfish. Shrimp, crab, and lobster are the source of most shellfish allergies, and unfortunately a shellfish allergy is lifelong and it’s unlikely that one will “grow out of it.”

And shopping with allergies in mind is always a task. What to look for when shopping? Those with shellfish allergies are advised to strictly avoid seafood and seafood products. Reading ingredient labels is key and additionally those with highly sensitive shellfish allergies should avoid touching shellfish, going to the fish market, and being in an area where shellfish are being cooked (the protein in the steam may present a risk) according to FAAN.

Avoid foods that contain shellfish or any of the following ingredients: barnacle, crab, crawfish (crayfish), krill, lobster (langoustine), prawns, shrimp (crevette, scampi), and mollusks (which are not considered major allergens under food labeling laws and may not be fully disclosed on a product label). Shellfish are also sometimes found in the following: bouillabaisse, seafood flavoring (e.g., crab cuttlefish ink or clam extract), fish stock, surimi and glucosamine.

Keep in mind; if you or a family member has a shellfish allergy, your doctor may advise you to avoid seafood restaurants. Cross contamination is always possible even if you order a non-seafood dish. Asian restaurants also use fish sauce in many of their dishes as a flavor base. FAAN also warns to stay away from cooking areas as shellfish protein can become airborne in the steam released during cooking and may be a risk.

Keep in mind that allergies are individual and it is important to discuss with your physician how to go about testing various “safe” foods so that you can find out what works for you.

The information in this article was provided by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network