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August 30, 2011 at 11:56 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Food Allergies: Fish and Shellfish

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

Registered dietitian Jessica Butcher goes over the many possible ways that fish and shellfish allergies can manifest in daily life.
Host, Gerry Barnaby - Hey, what’s goin’ on, Barnaby here.  Another HelloLife Moment.  We’re still drilling it down about allergies.  We’ve got the top eight to deliver to you in manageable chunks.  And to do that is Registered Dietician, Jessica Butcher.  So, we’ve already gone through tree nuts and peanuts.  If you’re concerned about that you can find that on our website.  But what are the next two we’re going to talk about?
Health Coach, Jessica Butcher, RD – I would like to talk about fish and shellfish.  Now, these are the two most common allergies in adults and what’s interesting is that oftentimes they’re not diagnosed until later in life.  So maybe 35, suddenly you’re enjoying shrimp and you realize um, something’s not right.  Maybe you’re tongue is swelling up, you’re tingling and maybe you have hives.  That’s certainly could be a good sign that suddenly you have a food allergy.
Barnaby – Suddenly? As a matter of fact, your fiancé – or, if you’re watching this after 2011, your husband, has got a food – or a fish allergy he didn’t know about!
Jessica – That’s true, that’s true.  He was enjoying one of his favorite foods and suddenly he had a major reaction.  And so we have to stay far away from shellfish.
Barnaby – Now, is this pretty prevalent in the population – fish and shellfish allergies?
Jessica – Well, it’s not as prevalent as you might think as the rate we actually hear about food allergy reactions.  But, shellfish is the most common reaction in adults and yet it’s only in about two percent of American adults.
Barnaby – Well, it’s interesting.  Because you don’t necessarily have to eat the fish or the shellfish to have an allergic reaction.  Explain that to me.
Jessica – That’s true.  Well, let’s say you’re in a seafood restaurant.  You know, if they’re steaming up lots of tasty smells in the air and maybe some of those vapors from that fish they’re cooking make it over in the air?  If that reaches you, that can cause a reaction itself.  It only takes a tiny vapor to cause that reaction.
Barnaby – That is crazy!  So, you should steer clear of seafood restaurants if you are fish intolerant.
Jessica – That may be a good idea.  Otherwise, at least talk with the people in the back of the house to make sure they know you’re coming in with that allergy and they can give you that clear warning.
Barnaby – Ok.  And now let’s say you love seafood so desperately you think, ‘well, I’m going to grab some imitation seafood because, after all, it IS imitation.  Are you on safe ground?
Jessica – Oh, there’s so many tricky areas here with lots of different allergies and imitation seafood or shellfish, that’s one area that you really need to watch out for.  Now maybe you’re grabbing that imitation, you know, lobster thinking, ‘you know I have this shellfish allergy – I can’t have it.  This is the perfect to work around it,’ that’s not the case.  Because, oftentimes they use the flavorings of shellfish or fish.  Otherwise even parts of a maybe less expensive shellfish or fish that they want to use in that ingredient to still cause part of that reaction.
Barnaby – Well, I tell you what.  I have a bit a fish breath every day because I take a fish oil supplement.  So I guess if you’re fish intolerant, forget about that, right?
Jessica – Right.  If you do have an allergy to certain seafood or, to fish in particular, then you do want to watch out for your fish oil supplements.  So maybe opt for a vegetarian source – maybe a flaxseed oil supplement instead.
Barnaby – Alrightie.  And let’s say, you know, on Sunday morning you want to have a Bloody Mary or something.  Forget the Worcestershire Sauce somebody once told me?
Jessica – Yeah.  That could have some fish ingredients in there too and same with Caesar dressing.  So you really do need to watch out on the different labels of your products.  And always look for that common allergen statement on the ingredients because it is required by law to have that listed out commonly, in plain terms, on the allergen label.
Barnaby – All good advice as always from Jessica Butcher, Registered Dietician on this where we’re all about matching your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.  Any questions you have about allergies, you’re in the right place. Dig deep through the videos.  We’re covering the top eight right here on

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