Shellfish including crustaceans and mollusks must be declared as an allergenic ingredient in food products in accordance with the EU Directive (EC 1829/2003 and EC 1830/2002).

Fish and crustaceans also belong to the eight allergens that must be declared in the USA and many other countries. Mollusks must also be labeled in South Africa. Seafood allergies are quite common, however, prevalence varies substantially depending on the region: people who live in coastal regions, where seafood is consumed more frequently, are more affected than people in the interior of the country. Therefore, general risk management is difficult.

Crustaceans

The genus of crustaceans (crustacea) includes prawns, crabs, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, krill, crawfish and great crabs. The consumption of crustaceans can trigger severe allergic reactions in allergy sufferers. These reactions impact the skin, gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tracts. The muscle protein tropomyosin is responsible for these reactions. This heat-stable protein constitutes 20% of the total protein content in crustaceans. Allergies towards crustaceans develop more frequently in adulthood and can often persist for the patient’s entire life. A high degree of sensitizations are not uncommon. In order to avoid these allergic reactions, food production lines must be free of residues. The effectiveness of cleaning the production system can be examined with a lateral flow swab test and the food can be analyzed using the ELISA and PCR tests.

Mollusks

The genus of mollusks (mollusca) includes mussels, snails and cephalopods (cuttlefish, squids). Mollusks such as blue mussels, oysters or octopus are a particularly popular dish in coastal regions. However, some people do have allergic reactions after consumption. Similar to crustaceans, the main cause for allergic reactions in mollusks is the allergenic muscle protein tropomyosin. This can also result in cross-sensitivities. A high degree of sensitizations are possible so that even the smallest amounts can trigger severe reactions.

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