Shellfish Allergy Information
An estimated 2.3% of Americans – that’s nearly 7 million people – are allergic to seafood, including fish and shellfish. Shrimp, crab, and lobster cause most shellfish allergies.
Allergy to shellfish is considered lifelong; once a person develops the allergy, it is unlikely that they will lose it.
Approximately 60% of those with shellfish allergy first experienced an allergic reaction as an adult. To avoid a reaction, strict avoidance of seafood and seafood products is essential. Always read ingredient labels to identify shellfish ingredients. In addition, 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).
Keep In Mind!
- If you have seafood allergy, avoid seafood restaurants. Even if you order a non-seafood item off of the menu, it is safer to always assume that cross-contact is possible.
- Asian restaurants often serve dishes that use fish sauce as a flavoring base. Exercise caution or avoid eating there altogether.
- Shellfish protein can become airborne in the steam released during cooking and may be a risk. Stay away from cooking areas.
- Many people who are allergic to shellfish are allergic to more than one kind. Talk to your doctor so that you know for sure what foods to avoid.
Frequently asked questions
Should carrageenan be avoided by a shellfish-allergic individual?
Carrageenan is not fish. Carrageenan, or “Irish moss,” is a red marine algae. This food product is used in a wide variety of foods, particularly dairy foods, as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener. It appears safe for most individuals with food allergies. Carrageenan is not related to shellfish and does not need to be avoided by those with food allergies.
Should iodine be avoided by a shellfish-allergic individual?
Allergy to iodine, allergy to radiocontrast material (used in some radiographic procedures), and allergy to fish or shellfish are not related. If you have an allergy to shellfish, you do not need to worry about cross reactions with radiocontrast material or iodine
Yeah, there’s a lot there, but I can’t get past “An estimated 2.3% of Americans – that’s nearly 7 million people – are allergic to seafood, including fish and shellfish”.
<rant> Where the hell are you people? Not to sound like a whiner… but all the Food Allergy “press” seems to go to peanuts, dairy, & wheat… and “Gluten Free” menu/options crap seems almost like the new Atkins. All of a sudden, Celiac is Chic. We have peanut-free baseball games and airplane flights, where are my shellfish-free beaches and cruises, or where’s my “no contact with shellfish” menu, or separate no-shellfish fryer? Why is Lent my own personal hell every year when a favorite restaurant adds shrimp or crab-legs or a lobster sub to their menu? It’s even more of a pain when it becomes permanent. (I’m taking to you; Texas Roadhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, & Quiznos.)
Celiac disease isn’t even an allergy in the traditional sense, but it’s gobbling up all the press. It’s an autoimmune disorder, and from my understanding… makes you poop a lot if you eat wheat. Terrible, yes. But, I don’t get diarrhea when I eat shellfish. I get anaphylaxis. Diarrhea may come along with the choking & swelling though.
I wish Shellfish Free had another user or 2 out of the apparent SEVEN MILLION of us out here.
That being said, awareness needs to be raised for ALL food allergies, whether in the top 8 or not. So, Celiac people… throw us a gluten-free bone here, will you? When a restaurant offers a gluten-free menu, how about a “That’s cool… but you know, there are so many allergies out there like peanut, milk, egg, shellfish, corn, peppers, and all kinds of crazy stuff. Maybe you ought to look at your cross-contamination practices in all areas & cooking surfaces with all ingredients.” (See this: http://www.foodallergy.org/page/restaurants-guests-with-food-allergies) </rant>
At any rate, where are my shellfish-allergic peeps? This is your time & place to bitch about finding a good death-free and anxiety-free meal. Stand up and be counted! This is a roll call & we need a list 7-million freaking people long. Please, leave your comments below with your story, your frustrations, or even with a positive experience related to your shellfish allergy… as well as links to any support groups or allergy resources that you hold dear.
- About.com | Shellfish Allergy Diet
- WebMD | Living With a Shellfish Allergy
- About.com | Shellfish Allergies : What You Need to Know
- Allergic Child | Fish Shellfish Allergy
- FAAN | Shellfish Allergy