5 Tips to Avoid Hidden Shellfish

Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on July 31, 2019

If you’re allergic to one type of shellfish, you may have problems with others. Take these steps to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

Skip seafood restaurants. Even if you order something from the turf instead of the surf, the chef may use the same skillet or oil to cook your meal as they did a big pile of shrimp.

Prevent cross contamination. If shellfish is on the menu, tell the server about your allergy. Ask them to make sure the kitchen staff uses separate utensils and work surfaces to make your food. Similarly, there is a potential for cross contamination at your grocery store's fish counter, so make sure you instruct the counter worker to use different utensils to handle your fresh fish order. 

Watch for hidden trouble. Fish stock and flavorings like fish sauce (common in Asian dishes) may include fish protein. Some makers add shellfish to imitation meat, like mock crabmeat, for flavoring.

Stay out of the kitchen. You might be sensitive to a protein that’s released into the air when shellfish is cooked. Avoid steam tables, grills, or stove tops when it's being prepared.

Read the label. Shellfish can also be in medicines, cosmetics, creams, and other foods.

WebMD Medical Reference



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

Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network: "Shellfish."

Food Allergy Initiative: "Shellfish Allergy."

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.