Allergy Free Info helps people with allergies and food sensitivities navigate a path to healthy living.
Navigating Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Fish Allergies

Fish Allergy Info

Fish free

Fish allergies are caused by the protein in the flesh of fish. Fish oils and fish gelatin, even if they are not made of fish meat, can still trigger allergies because these products may have been contaminated by the proteins from the fish meat.1

Finned fish and shellfish do not come from related families of foods, so being allergic to one does not mean that you will not be able to tolerate the other 2

Cod, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, bass, orange roughy, swordfish, halibut, and tuna are fish known to cause allergic symptoms, and oftentimes severe anaphylactic reactions.

However, there are times when people who are allergic to one type of fish, such as cod, will also react to other fish, such as hake, haddock, mackerel and whiting. This happens because the protein allergens of these fish are similar.

In highly sensitive people, the mere smell of fish can trigger their asthma, and eating foods cooked in reused cooking oil, or using utensils and containers that may have been used in storing or cooking fish can cause anaphylaxis, a severe life threatening allergic reaction. Reactions can be immediate, or delayed for as long as 24 hours.1

As one of the "big eight" most common allergens in the United States, fish is covered under the
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). This requires that manufacturers label the presence of fish in clear language on food labels, either in the list of ingredients or following the word "contains" after the ingredient list. Fish is not a particularly common hidden ingredient and generally appears as its own species in ingredient lists.3

Table 1 contains a list of some of the foods where fish may be found.3

Table 1: Foods that may contain fish
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Ceviche
    (fish or shellfish "cooked" in an acidic citrus marinade)
  • Caviar
  • Gelatin
  • Cioppino
  • Nam pla(Thai fish sauce)
  • Bouillabaisse
  • Fumet (fish stock)
  • Surimi
    (an artificial crabmeat made from fish)
  • Pissaladière
  • Omega-3 supplements
    – consider vegan based alternatives
    made from flaxseed or other plant-derived oils