7 MILLION People Allergic to Shellfish?

So, check this out…  It’s shellfish/seafood allergy information from the Food Allergy Daily:

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”.


DEAD from LOBSTER (AllergyMonkey.com)

<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>

"No shellfish for me!"

"No shellfish for me!"

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.

19 thoughts on “7 MILLION People Allergic to Shellfish?

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  5. Hello! I am allergic to all Shellfish, I have been since I was a child. Being from Florida, my parents ate a lot of sea food and as a child they made me try it! They said I would tell them my tongue was itchy, and then it was off to the hospital! I was diagnosed as a very young age and then my parents helped me to stay away from these food groups. My reactions got progressively worse as I got older with each exposure. I learned the hard way that telling a waiter that I have a deathly shellfish allergy and will go into anaphylactic shock DOES NOT WORK! I have had several reactions with cross contamination which ended up in the ER. Now I get extreme anxiety if I have to eat out at a restaurant with a work group which serves shellfish. I usually don’t order anything and bring my own meal… this does not sit well with non-allergy sufferers! Everyone asks, “why aren’t you eating?”, and doesn’t understand the severity of the situation. My allergy is so bad that I now I even react to the smell of cooking shellfish. Needless to say, I try not to go into any restaurants that serve shellfish. My husband and I cook a lot and don’t eat out too much! It is SO hard to find “nice” sit down restaurants that do not serve shellfish. Not many people think about it, but next time you are at a restaurant check the menu, I BET they have shellfish. Traveling is extremely difficult to find restaurants I can eat at, so we usually pay extra for a condo which has a kitchen. Cook-outs and pot-lucks are just as hard for me… imagine having to ask everyone one who brings a dish it they cooked it on a grill which they have cooked shellfish in the past… It’s too much trouble so now I just don’t bother and bring my own food. I get looks from people that just don’t understand! If you are not a food allergy sufferer, count your lucky stars. It is a difficult life. On the upside, cooking at home all the time makes for healthy choices and I have a very healthy lifestyle 🙂 Please get your children tested at an early age for food allergies!!


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  7. I had what I **think was a severe reaction after eating fried rice yesterday. as soon as I took the last bite, the inside of my lip swelled. My face started itching, diarrhea type cramps hit me, and I had difficulty swelling. My mom took the shrimp out and ate it before she gave it to me. My husband took me to the ER and they said it was food poisoning!! Sooooooo. Not sure now. About 4 hours after the first reaction, my face started itching again. I made an allergist appointment. My question is, I’ve been googling this and it appears shellfish can be in gelatin, marshmallows, lip balm….. Is there a list on your site with this information or can you direct me? Love your blog. You are very funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nicole, sounds like a reaction to me! Thank you for reading, and taking the time to comment. Unfortunately I don’t have a list of things to avoid on my site. I have only had a reaction due to eating thw offending food and cross-contamination.

      I would definitely follow through with an allergist to get tests & you may be able to see what sepcifically caused the reaction.


  8. I’m allergic to all fish and seafood, I’m also an holistic nutrition consultant so I don’t feel the least bit guilty saying, it is incredibly frustrating how healthy meal plans never seem to account for fish/seafood allergy!! And, I am so over seeing the ever-growing list of omega-3 fatty acids, followed by insistence that plant based essential fatty acids aren’t sufficient, yet woefully lacking any suggestions outside of fish or krill oil. So, I’m just doomed to be fat and unhealthy because of my allergy, k, thanks. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I want to bitch about my recent diagnosis. I had anaphylactic reaction after eating rice that shrimp had touched. I went to the ER and paid those fuckers a 300$ co-pay to be told I had FOOD POISONING. I my husband had to insist on an epi prescription. I checked my online health portal, the doc wrote it up as a possible case of food poisoning and/or mild allergic reaction. They said I had anxiety. Worst thing for a woman to have on your records, that you’re “hysterical” so they never believe any of your future God-forbid ailments. I followed up with an allergist and was told to avoid all shellfish because I have a very sensitive and life threatening allergy. The ER doc was a moron and I still have to pay the balance for that visit!! Sorry for my rant!!!! That being said, I’ve eaten Mexican since my diagnosis with no problems. So nobody must have been ordering shrimp on the grill prior to my meal.


  9. Hello. I’m late, but better late than never. I found out I had a seafood allergy (fish. shell fish, seafood, muscles) at the age of 4. My aunt got quite the suprise when my entire face swole in the middle of the night. I couldn’t breathe and it woke me out of my sleep. . . we had crab legs for dinner.
    Now I’m 25 and the reactions are life threatening. I can no longer fo fishing. The scales cause me to break out. When my mom thaws frozen fish my eyes swell and face breaks out in hives. The touch of crabs causes my body to swell. Old Bay Seasoning cause a flare up. Smh. The smell alone of fish cooking will kill me. . . .and almost did. I was working on a cruise ship. The smell traveled, obviously, and my throat swelled. I have asthama so it wasn’t pretty. Long story short, the boat had to pull back to port and i had to be rushed to an ER. I was fired because they considered me a liability.
    To this day if i apply for a job in a kitchen (I’m a pastry chef) I have to inform them i have a severe seafood and shellfish allergy. And of course they then tell me they cant hire me because I’m a liability.
    I dont think you hear about shellfish or seafood allergies so much as you do peanut [which i have as well], lactose, and gluten because when don’t make a fuss over it. I mean yes i miss almost every family event because there is fish. No i can’t go to resturants where they cook in front of you because of cross contamination. Yess i have to take a benadryl before i go to a resturant on a date, just so slow down a reaction from the food on other tables. I couldn’t go to school without having an EPIpen on me and in the nurse office (they checked me every day. If i didn’t have it i was sent home) because i was a risk. But when learn to live with it. We don’t make a big deal of it. So people forget. . . but Maybe they need to be reminded. An airborne risk for shellfish is just as serious as peanut.


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