- According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the most common food allergy among American adults is shellfish allergy.
- Unlike most food allergies, people tend to develop shellfish allergy later in life, as opposed to during early childhood.
- Shellfish allergies are usually severe and lifelong.
The two families of shellfish that are commonly eaten are: crustaceans (which include shrimp, lobster, crab, and crawfish) and mollusks (which include clams, squid, and oysters). Despite having the word “fish” in their name, shellfish aren’t a kind of fish—they’re just animals that live underwater. In fact, crustaceans are closely related to insects and arachnids, and mollusks belong to the same family as snails and slugs. Shellfish are featured in almost all cuisines, especially in countries with coastal areas like Japan, Korea, and parts of the United States.
What’s Shellfish Allergy?
People with shellfish allergy have a hypersensitive reaction to dietary substances that contain shellfish. Shellfish cause an overreaction of the immune system to those who are allergic and can lead to severe physical symptoms. These symptoms may include: hives, eczema, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, swelling, and at worse, anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction and when one goes into anaphylic shock, the release of histamine causes throat swelling, breathing difficulty, heart failure, circulatory collapse, and sometimes death.
What to Do, What to Eat?!?!
Because the symptoms of shellfish allergy can be drastic and occur even when not consuming shellfish, avoiding shellfish requires absolute resilience. When going to a restaurant and ordering a shellfish-free item, people with severe shellfish allergies still have to worry about cross contamination and vapors from cooking shellfish. Even though the FDA requires manufacturers to mention the presence of crustaceans in ingredients list, this requirement is not applied to mollusks, and people who are allergic to crustaceans are likely to be allergic to mollusks as well. People who are deathly allergic to shellfish have to constantly be alert about the ingredients inside their food, the surfaces and utensils their food touches, and the air they breathe when near a kitchen.
How Fitsme Can Help
One of the few ways to be absolutely sure about what goes into your food is to cook at home. Fitsme helps you discover recipes that fit your lifestyle. With our Food Personality Builder you can tell us the foods you like, the foods you could do without, and the foods you must avoid, and our app will curate a set of recipes that accommodate your allergies, diet restrictions, and taste buds.
-By Brian Van