Shellfish Free Diets

About the Allergen

  • There are two groups of shellfish: crustaceans and mollusks. Crustaceans are included as one of the top eight food allergens, while mollusks are not.
  • Crab, lobster, crawfish, shrimp, krill, and prawns are considered crustaceans. These are required to be labeled on all food products containing them, whereas mollusks are exempt from this rule.
  • Fin fish and shellfish are two separate categories of food allergy. Those with shellfish allergies may be able to eat fin fish as they are not related to each other. Check with your allergist to see if fin fish are safe for you. There may be some concern as cross contact may occur.
  • Shellfish allergy is one of the most common food allergies impacting adults.
  • The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend all Americans eat a minimum of two servings of fish or shellfish per week, equaling at least eight ounces total.

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When replacing a food allergen, you will need to focus on incorporating a variety of whole foods in your diet that contain the nutrients you’re missing due to eliminating the problem food.

  • Shellfish are an important source of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin B-12. If eliminating shellfish from your diet, use a variety of these foods as alternatives:
    • Omega 3 fatty acids: Fin fish, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil. Fortified foods such as eggs, yogurt, juices, milk and soy beverages
    • Protein: Meat, poultry, fin fish, dairy products, beans & legumes, nuts & seeds
    • Iron: Meat, poultry, beans & legumes, fortified cereals, seeds & nuts. Whole grains including teff, amaranth, wheat, corn, quinoa
    • Zinc: Beef, game meat, poultry, beans & legumes, seeds & nuts, wild rice, peanuts, teff
    • Copper: Beef, lamb, seeds & nuts, cocoa powder, beans & legumes, peanuts. Whole grains including buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, oats
    • Vitamin B-12: Meat, poultry, fin fish, eggs, dairy

Reading Labels

  • Some common foods to avoid are bouillabaisse-fish stew, cuttlefish ink, and fish stock.
  • Check labels for glucosamine supplements, seafood flavoring, and surimi which may contain shellfish.

Alternatives and Suggested Products

  • One alternative for a shellfish-free omega 3 supplement is alga oil.
  • Suggested products include:
    • Sophie’s Kitchen, plant-based seafood
    • Gardein, crabless crab cakes
    • New Wave Foods, shrimp-free shrimp

NOTE: Always double check the allergy statement on any products you purchase. Food manufacturers may change their ingredients at any time.


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