Shellfish Allergy Diet for Children

General guidelines for shellfish allergy

The key to an allergy-free diet is to avoid giving your child the foods or products containing the food to which he or she is allergic. The items to which your child is allergic are called allergens.

A shellfish allergy is an abnormal response of the immune system to the proteins found in shellfish. People allergic to one type of shellfish are often allergic to other types. To avoid foods that contain shellfish proteins, it is important to read food labels.

For foods regulated by the FDA, the federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act  (FALCPA) requires food labels list shellfish in the list of ingredients of products that contain shellfish. Some manufactures voluntarily include statements such as "may contain shellfish" or "may be made in a facility that processes shellfish."

The lists below may not contain all food and personal care products that could contain shellfish, they can help guide your decisions. It is up to you to carefully read all food labels.

How to read a label for a shellfish-free diet

Be sure to avoid foods that contain any of the following ingredients:

  • Abalone

  • Barnacle

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

  • Cockle, periwinkle, sea urchin

  • Crab

  • Crawfish, crawdad, crayfish, ecrevisse, 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 indicate that shellfish protein is present:

  • Bouillabaisse

  • Cuttlefish ink

  • Fish stock

  • Glucosamine

  • Seafood flavoring (crab, clam extract)

  • Surimi

Any food–even a nonseafood item–that is made in a seafood restaurant could be cross-contaminated with fish or shellfish.

Some fish-allergic individuals may react to cooking odors or from touching shellfish or fish.

Use caution when eating in Asian restaurants. Fish sauce is often used as a flavor enhancer.

Shellfish protein can become airborne in the steam released during cooking. Avoid steam tables or buffets where seafood is displayed and served.