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Shellfish Allergy Diet for Children

Shellfish Allergy Diet for Children

General guidelines for shellfish allergy

When your child has a food allergy, they must strictly stay away from the food that they are allergic to. They can't eat that food. And they can't eat any products containing that food. The items that your child is allergic to are called allergens.

A shellfish allergy is the immune system's abnormal response to the proteins found in shellfish. Shellfish allergies are among the most common allergies in children. People allergic to 1 type of shellfish are often allergic to other types. This is often a lifelong condition. So it's important to know how to manage it. To stay away from foods that contain shellfish proteins, it's important to read food labels.

For foods regulated by the FDA, the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires packaged foods to state clearly on the label if a product has shellfish. Some companies may also include statements, such as "may contain shellfish" or "may be made in a facility that processes shellfish." But these kinds of advisory statements are voluntary. Companies are not required to put this on the food label.

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

  • Foods that are not regulated by the FDA

  • Cosmetics and personal care items

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements

  • Toys and crafts

  • Pet foods

The list below shows foods and products that could contain shellfish. It is not a complete list. But it can help guide your decisions. Be sure to carefully read all food labels.

How to read a label for a shellfish-free diet

Stay away from foods with any of these ingredients:

  • Abalone

  • Barnacle

  • Clams (cherrystone, littleneck, geoduck, pismo, quahog)

  • Cockle, periwinkle, sea urchin

  • Crab

  • Crawfish, crawdad, crayfish, écrevisse, krill

  • Cuttlefish

  • Limpet (lapas, opihi)

  • Lobster, langouste, langoustine, Moreton Bay bugs, scampi, coral, tomalley

  • Mollusks

  • Mussels

  • Octopus, squid (calamari) 

  • Oyster

  • Periwinkle

  • Prawns

  • Scallops

  • Sea cucumber (often used in Asian soups) 

  • Sea urchin

  • Shrimp, prawns, crevette, scampi

  • Snail (escargot)

  • Squid (calamari)

  • Whelk (turban shell) 

The following foods may mean that shellfish protein is present:

  • Bouillabaisse

  • Cuttlefish ink

  • Fish stock or fish sauce

  • Glucosamine

  • Seafood flavoring (crab, clam extract)

  • Surimi

When you are not at home

For your child's general safety:

  • Always carry 2 epinephrine autoinjectors. Make sure you and those close to your child know how to use them.

  • If you don't have epinephrine autoinjectors, talk with your child's healthcare provider. Find out if you should carry them.

  • Have your child wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. This will have their allergy information on it.

  • Be sure your child's teacher, school nurse, and other caregivers are educated about your child's allergy. This includes knowing what to do in an emergency.

When you are eating out:

  • Tell your server about your child's allergy.

  • Any food that is made in a seafood restaurant could be cross-contaminated with fish or shellfish. This includes nonseafood items.

  • Some people who are allergic to fish may react to cooking odors. Or they may react to touching shellfish or fish.

  • Be careful when eating in Asian restaurants. Fish sauce is often used as a flavor enhancer.

  • Shellfish protein can be spread in the air, in the steam released during cooking. Don't eat at steam tables or buffets where seafood or shellfish is displayed and served. This can also help prevent cross-contamination of foods with shared utensils.

  • In a restaurant, food may be cross-contaminated with shellfish. Always read food labels and ask about ingredients at restaurants. Do this even if these are foods your child has eaten in the past.

  • Be careful about fried foods in restaurants that serve shellfish. Shrimp or other shellfish may be fried in the same oil as french fries or chicken fingers.

Reviewed Date: 02-01-2023

Shellfish Allergy Diet for Children

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.