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Food Allergies – Flirting With Seafood


If you have a seafood allergy you will know the personal feelings and emotions that happen as you react to exposure to its allergens. You are not alone. This type of allergy is among the top eight most common, accounting for 90% of all food allergies. Seafood is given fourth place, below dairy and nuts as one of the worst offenders for adverse immunologic response to its proteins. So then, how can one flirt with seafood?

Here is the mystery with food allergies, while shellfish may present a clear and ominous danger for a full blown episodic response, there are other types of seafood such as tinned tuna, salmon, sardines, and deep sea codfish that may not. Occasionally, fish such as flounder, halibut, and bass offer some allergy challenges to some individuals, without warning and even after dining on their variety for many months.

There exists a masked perception among individuals with this type of allergy, one that assumes that you are back in control of your body, being able to pick and choose among crustaceans and shellfish. This is the primary reason why individuals will romance with seafood, testing their response to it with a backup system in place, usually an epinephrine kit or other form of anti-histamine drug to quickly halt any abnormal reactions. Unfortunately the craving for the food can sometimes overcome the fear of the allergic reaction.

Seafood allergies typically develop during ones adult life. As a child you may have been able to enjoy all types of seafood as it rarely occurs among young children. However, food allergies to fish, crustacean, and shellfish, once developed are usually lifelong conditions. The proteins contained in the varied types of seafood are the “invaders”; at least that is how your immune system sees it if you have an allergy, and is therefore the cause of any adverse response.

The quirks of the immune system
People who are allergic to one type of seafood like crustaceans (lobster, crab, crayfish, shrimp, prawns), fish, and shellfish (oyster, molluscs, etc.) may not be allergic to other types of seafood. This is where the confusion comes in, along with the hope of consuming at least one category of seafood. Several studies have confirmed that individuals with this type of allergy can often eat between categories of seafood according to the arrangement of proteins contained within each grouping. Therefore a person may be allergic to one type of seafood (crustaceans, shellfish, or fish) and not another.

Guidelines for safety
Individuals with severe seafood allergies only need to smell the vapours of fish or other seafood to respond adversely, with near fatal implications, such as with anaphylactic shock. It is the exposure to the proteins carried in cooking vapours which is the culprit (or allergen). An awareness of this fact is needed to guide an individual’s decisions when dining out at restaurants, specifically at eateries that prepare and cook the dishes directly in front of patrons.

Food allergies and the kinds of responses to them are peculiar. Products that seem unlikely to contain seafood but do are:

  •  Spring rolls
  •  Gelatine and marshmallows
  •  Salad dressings
  •  Broths
  •  Sauces: marinara sauce, steak and Worcestershire sauce
  •  Garnishes/dips/spreads
  •  Deli meats, hot dogs (from gelatine)

Food allergies are a curious thing, and the scientific community is still at odds over the body’s response to triggers, and unfortunately there are no straightforward answers.

But is it wise to flirt with seafood? A simple answer is, if you don’t already know how you will react to a specific category of seafood it is prudent to stay away from it. You may consider consulting an allergist who will have you tested and provide you with professional guidance to how to proceed.



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