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Fish Allergy Avoidance

The Asthma Center, Allergic Disease Associates, P.C.
Professional Arts Building
205 North Broad Street, Ste 300
Philadelphia, PA 19107


Individuals with fish allergy are generally advised to avoid all species of fish unless a specific species has been tested and can be tolerated by the individual. The allergic protein in fish is usually cross-reactive among all fish. Fish is not a primary source of any one nutrient in the United States, so fish avoidance does not usually produce a nutritional risk. Fish, however, does provide niacin, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin E and protein. Alternative sources of these nutrients include meat, grains, legumes and oil.

Hidden Sources of Fish
Fish Sensitive individuals may not be aware of all the circumstances in which fish may be encountered in the diet. For example, anchovies are found in Worchestershire sauce and Caesar salad dressing. Fish eggs are called caviar or roe and can be a source of allergic reactions. Surimi or imitation shellfish is made from reshaped and flavored fish muscle and should be avoided. The possibility of allergic reaction to fish through kissing has also been reported and is usually not thought of by people with fish allergies. Teenagers and young adults may be particularly at risk during dating to his hidden contact source. Individuals of any age, though, should be aware of this vulnerability. Pet food may also contain protein from fish. For children and adults extremely sensitive to fish, even trace amounts of fish exposure from animal saliva may cause a reaction.

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a very helpful lay organization based in Fairfax, Virginia that also publishes a number of resources for individuals with food allergies including a bi-monthly newsletter called Food Allergy News. Diets, recipes, cookbooks and videos are also available. FAAN also provides to members a convenient, laminated wallet-sized chart that delineates how to read a food label. Their phone number is 1-800-929-4040, and their website is

What Consumers Can do to Help Identify Allergens
If a consumer finds that a product causes a reaction, besides discussing it with your physician at the Asthma Center, please notify the manufacturer and notify the local FDA consumer complaint coordinator (The following provides a list of phone numbers in the US)

In addition, consumers should continue to provide input about concerns and suggestions for allergen labeling issues by emailing comments to and noting Docket OOP-1322.

Printed with permission from The Asthma Center, copyright 2008