Shellfish Allergy Diet
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Shellfish Allergy Diet

General guidelines for shellfish allergy

The key to an allergy-free diet is to stay away from all foods or products containing the food to which you are allergic. If you are allergic to shellfish, you will need to stay away from foods that contain shellfish. To do this, you must read food labels.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) is a law that requires U.S. packaged foods to state clearly on the label if they contain shellfish.

How to read a label for a shellfish-free diet

Don't eat foods that have any of these ingredients:

  • Abalone

  • Clams, such as cherrystone, littleneck, pismo, and quahog

  • Crab

  • Crawfish, crayfish, écrevisse 

  • Lobster, langouste, langoustine, scampi, coral, tomalley

  • Mollusks

  • Mussels

  • Squid, snail

  • Oysters

  • Octopus

  • Scallops

  • Shrimp, prawns, crevette

These foods may also contain shellfish:

  • Bouillabaisse

  • Cuttlefish ink

  • Fish stock

  • Seafood flavoring

  • Glucosamine

  • Seafood flavoring

  • Surimi

Important points

Always read the entire ingredient label to look for shellfish. Shellfish may be in the ingredient list. Or it could be listed in a “Contains: Shellfish” statement after the ingredient list.

Foods that don't have shellfish could be contaminated during manufacturing. Advisory statements are not regulated by the FDA. They are voluntary. These include labels such as "processed in a facility that also processed shellfish." Or "made on shared equipment." Ask your healthcare provider if you may eat products with these labels. Or if you should stay away from them.

Some foods and products are not covered by the FALCPA law. These include:

  • Foods that are not regulated by the FDA

  • Cosmetics and personal care items

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements

  • Toys, crafts, and pet foods

When you are eating out

  • Always carry 2 epinephrine auto-injectors. Make sure you and those close to you know how to use it.

  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace with your allergy information.

  • If you don't have epinephrine auto-injectors, talk with your healthcare provider. Ask if you should carry them.

  • In a restaurant, food may be cross-contaminated with shellfish or seafood.

  • Stay away from steam tables or buffets with seafood. This helps to keep you away from the cooking vapors.

  • Some people with allergies will react to cooking odors. Or to touching seafood or shellfish.

  • Always read food labels. And always ask about ingredients at restaurants. Do this even if these are foods that you have eaten in the past.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2018
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.