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Tips for Life With a Seafood Allergy

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 26, 2020

If you’re allergic to one kind of seafood, your doctor may have told you to avoid others. Here’s what to look out for.

Surprising Sources of Seafood

These foods may contain anchovies:

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Barbecue sauces made with Worcestershire
  • Caesar salad and Caesar dressing
  • Caponata (Sicilian eggplant relish)

Other foods that have seafood:

  • Caviar and fish roe (fish eggs)
  • Artificial fish like surimi, an imitation crabmeat sometimes used in sushi
  • Fish sauce, oils, and gelatin
  • Certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, and soy beverages fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.

 

6 Easy Ways to Avoid Seafood

 

  • Stay out of seafood restaurants. Even if you order beef, bits of seafood from a shared spatula, cooking oil, or grill can get in your food. 
  • In any restaurant, let your server know about your allergy and ask that the kitchen staff use separate utensils and work surfaces to make your food. Cross-contact can happen anywhere that uses a lot of fish or shellfish ingredients.
  • Don't shop for or cook seafood. Let someone else do it. You may have a reaction just from touching it or being in an area where someone is cooking it.
  • Ask your doctor if any fish or shellfish is safe to eat. Don't try out any kinds on your own, though. That could cause severe allergic reactions.
  • Ask your doctor whether it’s safe for you to take fish oil supplements. You can also find those good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids in other places. Leafy green vegetables, walnuts, flaxseed oil, soy oil, canola oil and microalgae (spirulina) are good options. 
  • Read labels. Other foods -- as well as lotions, cosmetics, and medicine -- may have fish in them.

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Seafood Allergy."

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network: "Fish," "Shellfish," "How to Read a Label for a Shellfish-Free Diet."

Food Allergy Initiative: "Fish Allergy," "Shellfish Allergy."

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Eat Right: Omega 3 Fatty Acids -- Something's Fishy!"

National Institutes of Health: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health."

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