Shellfish Allergy Questions

You may or may not be a doctor (as the case may be). You are not my doctor. This is not an emergency. I will seek advice from my own physician.

It turns out I’ve developed a strong shellfish allergy as an adult. I even had a reaction to cross-contamination in a restaurant. I have an epipen and have been advised to avoid all shellfish.

I have two questions for those of you who may know.

I’ve never liked eating shellfish anyway so I don’t miss it. But I do enjoy crabbing, cooking and backing/cleaning crab for gifts. I’m told I should stay away from crab steam because the protein gets into the air. But could I be safe crabbing? What about with gloves?

The second question is about sushi. I love fish sushi and vegetarian sushi. Is there any chance that a clean sushi restaurant could serve sushi that would be safe for me, or is there cross contamination everywhere?

Does anyone have any other advice for me? I am new to this.


There is a chance you’d be safe with the steam, with crabbing, with wearing gloves, with eating sushi.

But there’s a significant chance you won’t be safe doing that. Risks seem high, with low rewards to me.

I’d really recommend steering clear of handling crabs. That’s pretty high risk.

And I AM a physician who treated a guy who had a shrimp allergy who really really loved shrimp so he ate some, came to my office, and died there.

Of course, I didn’t let him stay dead.


ETA: Work with a sushi chef, he might be able to provide you with some nice tuna sashimi carefully prepared well away from any shellfish. But carry your epi pen.

Thank you very much for your information/advice.

Wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But I guess it was what I expected to hear. And it was certainly what I needed to hear.

On the bright side, I guess I get to learn to make homemade sushi. :slight_smile:

As someone with food allergies, if you do want to eat at a restaurant that could be expected to have your allergen all over being able to speak with/work with a chef who actually gives a damn is essential.

I will second not handling what you’re allergic to, that is, stay away from crabs as much as possible, especially if your allergies are extreme. As you have had a cross-contamination reaction I’d say yours fall into that category.

I also like to go crabbing with a chicken neck and pull them in by the twose’es and three’s on one chicken neck, but that was a long time ago back in Galveston Bay down Seabrook, Texas way.

Now I have that old testament problem of Moses telling the Hebrew children not to eat shellfish. Surely I am not allergic to them … Crab cakes are too expensive anyway and I never really liked lobster having my full when stationed in Portland, Maine forty years ago. I never liked oysters or clams, except clam chowder.

I can’t imagine anyone eating a barnacle, yuck :smack:

But shrimp, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, shrimp salad, shrimp cocktail … I just can’t resist those delicate shellfish items.

That was good advice from Qadgop the Mercotan … may I ask in this thread if gout is caused by shellfish?

That’s really interesting. I have a friend that’s allergic to shellfish. One day I was talking to her at work and all of a sudden she could tell her allergies were coming on and didn’t know why. She excused herself to deal with them and I later found out someone down the hall was cooking some [shellfish] and and it was just that it was ‘in the air’ that was making it hard for her to breath.

A few weeks later she had stopped by my work and had another minor reaction and had to sit down for a little while. That time, while she was talking to me, a friend of hers saw her and in order to get her attention brushed the back of her arm and said ‘hi’. That person had, previously, been handling some bags that have frozen snow crab in them. She didn’t know that the person had touched the bag, but that’s all it took to get her to start wheezing.

Mrs. B. has a moderate shellfish allergy - fortunately all it does is make her quite sick, no truly life-threatening reactions. It does make a long unpleasant night for both of us when she gets cross-contamination from a restaurant, though. (And the Barbarianette is similarly allergic to peanuts. Translation: the Barbarian family doesn’t get enough Thai for Dad.)

The question I have never gotten a good answer to is this: is fake crab meat an allergen for those with shellfish sensitivity?

If the fake crab meet is made from a teleost fish (what we usually think of as a fish - cod, whitefish, etc.) that has been flavored/dyed to resemble crab meat it’s safe for those who are NOT allergic to fish but ARE allergic to shellfish… as long as nothing from shellfish is used for flavoring.

Translation: it is possible to find fake crab safe for shellfish allergics who aren’t allergic to fish, but you have to be VERY careful about the ingredients.

Most of today’s commercially made fake crab is made from “surimi” which is essentially ground and formed whitefish (cod, pollack, tilapia, etc.) But it may be labeled just as “surimi” which tells you nothing of origin. If you can get it properly labeled with all ingredients you should be able to find something suitable with the caution that mislabeling and/or cross-contamination may be a serious risk.

All foods that contain allergens must have an allergy statement contiguous with the ingredient statement, so if the fake crabmeat contains any shellfish flavoring it must state contains: shellfish on the label. This doesn’t help with restaurants though, unless they have the packaging available. I have a moderate to severe shellfish allergy and have not had a problem at sushi restaurants when I just speak to the sushi chefs.

One other thing to note about these types of allergies, if it is a true allergy, a histamine reaction, the reaction can become more severe with repeated exposure.

Gout is caused by purines. Your body needs these to function, but gouty people are sensitive to large amounts, and they cause uric acid crystals to build up around joints or areas of trauma in your body. Which is, as you can imagine, painful as fuck.

Some fish have high concentrations of purines, as do some shellfish, but it varies by creature.

If you have relatively minor gout, you don’t have to alter your diet that much, you just have to drink water pretty much constantly to flush your system clear.

If you have more serious gout, talk to yur doc about a list of foods to avoid (or check the mayo clinic guide online) and STILL keep drinking assloads of water.