Food allergies – What is a shellfish allergy?

Maria Hicks  Health Solutions Coach

Maria Hicks
Health Solutions Coach

This week we are focusing on shellfish allergy.  This is considered one of the top 8 allergens.  I have personal experience with a shellfish allergy because my father is highly allergic and his entire face swelled up at one point.  Now, it’s strict avoidance!   If you have a shellfish allergy, you may be able to eat other fish, such as salmon, tuna, tilapia, etc.…  Also use caution when trying new fish or seafood if you have a shellfish allergy.

According to Food Allergy Research & Education….

Shellfish can cause severe allergic reactions.  About 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experienced their first allergic reaction as adults. Shrimp, crab and lobster cause most shellfish allergies.

There are two kinds of shellfish: crustacean (such as shrimp, crab and lobster) and mollusks (such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops). Reactions to crustacean shellfish tend to be particularly severe. If you are allergic to one group of shellfish, you might be able to eat some varieties from the other group. However, since most people who are allergic to one kind of shellfish usually are allergic to other types, allergists usually advise their patients to avoid all varieties.

To prevent a reaction:

  • Strict avoidance of shellfish and shellfish products is essential.
  • Always read ingredient labels to identify shellfish ingredients.
  • Avoid touching shellfish, going to the fish market, and being in an area where shellfish are being cooked

Avoid foods that contain shellfish or any of these ingredients:

  • Barnacle
  • Crab
  • Crawfish
  • Krill
  • Lobster
  • Prawns
  • Shrimp

Your doctor may advise you to avoid mollusks or these ingredients:

  • Abalone
  • Clams
  • Cockle
  • Cuttlefish
  • Limpet
  • Mussels
  • Octopus
  • Oysters
  • Periwinkle
  • Sea cucumber
  • Sea urchin
  • Scallops
  • Snails (escargot)
  • Squid (calamari)
  • Whelk (Turban shell)

Shellfish are sometimes found in the following:

  • Bouillabaisse
  • Cuttlefish ink
  • Glucosamine
  • Fish stock
  • Seafood flavoring (e.g., crab or clam extract)
  • Surimi