Seafood Safety: Food Allergies Prevented by Fish ID Testing

Food allergies to fish, unlike most allergies, often begin in adulthood. The greatest risk from fish allergies is anaphylaxis, which can cause life-threatening breathing, cardiac, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Pollock, salmon, cod, tuna, snapper, eel, and tilapia are among the fish that commonly elicit fish allergies. Often consumers know they have allergies to certain fish and purchase a different species of fish for the express purpose of avoiding the allergic reaction. However, unless regulators ensure the proper labeling of seafood, consumers are often defenseless to protect themselves unless they avoid all types of fish altogether. Thus, regulators can help protect consumers who must otherwise risk their lives to enjoy seafood.

Another allergy that may affect consumers as a result of mislabeled fish is allergy to a fish parasite called Anisakis simplex. This parasite, like fish allergies, can cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock. Certain fish species, as a result of their habitat, are more likely to contain this parasite than others. Because this parasite can elicit an allergic reaction even if cooked, the only line of defense for consumers is regulatory protection.


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