If you have a shellfish allergy, the only way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid all shellfish and products that contain shellfish. Even trace amounts of shellfish can cause a severe reaction in some people.
- Be cautious when dining out. When dining at restaurants, always check to make sure that the pan, oil or utensils used for shellfish aren't also used to prepare other foods, creating cross-contamination. It might be necessary to avoid eating at seafood restaurants, where there's a high risk of cross-contamination.
Read labels. Cross-contamination can occur in stores where other food is processed or displayed near shellfish and during manufacturing. Read food labels carefully.
Shellfish is rarely a hidden ingredient, but it may be in fish stock or seafood flavoring. Companies are required to label any product that contains shellfish or other foods that often cause allergic reactions, but the regulations don't apply to mollusks, such as clams, oysters and scallops.
- Keep your distance. You may need to completely avoid places where shellfish are prepared or processed. Some people react after touching shellfish or inhaling steam from cooking shellfish.
If you have a shellfish allergy, talk with your doctor about carrying emergency epinephrine. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that lets others know you have a food allergy.
It's untrue that people with shellfish allergy also will be allergic to iodine or radiocontrast dye used in some lab procedures. Reactions to radiocontrast material or iodine aren't related.
July 12, 2014
- Sicherer SH. Seafood allergies: Fish and shellfish. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Anaphylaxis. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/anaphylaxis.aspx. Accessed March 26, 2014.
- Shellfish allergy is not a shell game. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/shellfish-allergy-can-be-dangerous.aspx. Accessed March 28, 2014.
- Lopata AL, et al. Shellfish allergy. Clinical & Experimental Allergy. 2010;40: 850.
- Wasserman S, et al. Food allergy. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2011;7(suppl):S7.
- Shellfish allergy. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. http://www.acaai.org/allergist/allergies/Types/food-allergies/types/Pages/shellfish-allergy.aspx. Accessed March 27, 2014.
- Guidance for industry: Questions and answers regarding food allergens, including the Food Allergen and Labeling Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Edition 4); final guidance. http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/allergens/ucm059116.htm. March 30, 2014.
- Food allergies. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=20&cont=286. Accessed March 30, 2014.
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