By Dr. Saurabh Arora*

Do you know that shellfish are one of the most common food allergens, and it might contain mercury, viruses, parasites, pathogens, heavy metals and several life-threatening contaminants?

Your food business or restaurant requires shellfish allergen testing for safety and health of your consumers.

Shellfish have been popularly eaten all over the world for its nutritional value like lean protein, healthy fats, and minerals.

Several studies show that regular consumption of shellfish could tremendously boost your immunity, help in weight loss, and healthy functioning of heart and brain.

Shellfish could be divided into two categories: crustaceans and molluscs.  Shellfish are aquatic invertebrates that are covered with a hard shell. Despite the name, shellfish are not actually fish, but are simply water-dwelling animals.

Most kinds of shellfish are found in saltwater, but some are found in freshwater, while a few types are also found on land e.g. crabs. Familiar marine Molluscs enjoyed as food include clamsmusselsoysters, and scallops. Some Crustaceans commonly eaten are shrimplobster, and crabs.

Shellfish Allergy

From mild reactions like itching and eczema to serious medical conditions of anaphylaxis shock. A severe allergic response to shellfish could lead to a medical emergency. It can also cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems.

Consumption of contaminated shellfish could create food poisoning which occurs due to bacteria, viruses, or parasites acquired from their environments. Proper storage and cooking of shellfish is essential to avoid pathogens to flourish in it. Moreover, several reports show that shellfish is also contaminated with microplastics due to rising plastics in the ocean.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis

  • throat swelling, making it difficult or impossible to breathe
  • drop in blood pressure
  • rapid pulse
  • Dizziness
  • loss of consciousness

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to shellfish

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath 

Quality testing of shellfish

Shellfish are prone to contamination; this is why it is significant to ensure that there should be proper quality testing before it reaches the consumers through the market. Several marine biotoxins and certain species of seafood are prone to histamine toxin which is harmful for consumption in humans. It is important to detect;

  • Fungicide residue
  • Antibiotic residue
  • Toxic metals
  • Chemical contamination
  • Formaldehyde

Importance of Food Labelling and Quality Assurance Certification

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to mention common food allergens, such as shellfish, on food labels. It is essential to provide ingredient labels to make the consumer aware of any possible allergic reaction after consuming it. 

Why is Food Allergen testing required?

  • Comply with national and international regulatory requirement
  • Avoid fines and product wastage
  • Improve consumer trust in your brand
  • Avoid fraud and mislabelling of seafood
  • Authenticity and traceability
  • Lowers the risk of harmful impact
  • Save time and money
  • Enhance quality and productivity

*Prolific inventor, pharmacist, scientist, technophile, and visionary entrepreneur. Director of Arbro and Auriga