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Shellfish Allergy


Information provided in co-operation with the Informall project.

Shellfish is a culinary term generally used for aquatic invertebrates used as food: molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms

Crabs, crayfish, lobsters, prawns and shrimps are crustaceans. Food allergy to crustaceans is relatively common, symptoms ranging from mild oral allergy to severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis. Cooking does not remove the allergen. Crustacea are the third most important cause of food induced anaphylaxis after peanuts and tree nuts (cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.). Thus crustacea and products thereof are listed in annex IIIa of the EU directive on labelling of foods and must be labelled when used as ingredients in pre-packaged food.

Molluscs include many of the most important seafoods such as abalone, clams, mussels, octopus, oysters, squid, and scallops and also include terrestrial snails. Allergy to molluscs has been reported less frequently than allergy to crustaceans. Thus the EU labelling directive does not currently demand labelling of products derived from molluscs when used as ingredients in pre-packaged food.

Echinoderms such as sea cucumber and sea urchins are rarely eaten in Europe or North America . There have been few or no reports of allergies to these foods and echinoderms are not included in the EU labelling directive on allergenic foods

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