Shellfish are a type of sea life that include molluscs, such as oysters and clams, and crustaceans, such as lobsters and crabs. They are commonly found in Japanese cuisine, coastal dishes, oyster sauce, fish sauce and Clamato juice.

Health considerations

Shellfish are an excellent source of protein and vitamins and minerals including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Shellfish allergies (found in 0.1% of North American children and 2.0% of adults) are fairly common and are often caused by the protein tropomyosin which is found in many different types of shellfish. These allergies generally present themselves at random as a person ages, though they can be brought on by constant exposure. Shellfish often contain arsenic, and are considered to be a primary contributor of arsenic in the diet. Shellfish may also contain methylmercury and certain radioactive isotopes of cesium due to leakage from the Fukushima power plant, depending on origin. See: Arsenic, Methylmercury.

Keep in mind

Shellfish may contain residues from chemicals that have filtered or run off into the water in which they inhabit. Consumers should be aware of which species are best purchased farmed or wild, or avoided altogether, to minimize environmental damage.

May be found in

Soups, prepared meals, chowders, kimchi, coastal dishes, oyster sauce, fish sauce and Clamato juice


Canadian Aquaculture
Food Standards Agency
Clinical & Experimental Allergy
Current Allergy and Asthma Reports
The Journal of Emergency Medicine

Food Allergy Research and Education

Alternative names and spellings

Seafood, Molluscs, Crustaceans

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