Crustacean-free: all about shellfish?

What about crustacean-free eating? This time the legislation just says ‘crustaceans’ and with me not being a biology whizz I have to admit I don’t even know what that includes. Luckily Wikipedia comes to my rescue and tells me it’s a large and diverse group, with the most common items being:

  • crabs;
  • lobsters;
  • crayfish;
  • shrimp;
  • krill;
  • woodlice; and
  • barnacles.

In general I consider crustaceans to be synonymous with ‘shellfish’ but actually it’s the woodlice that interest me: not a common food product, but actually eating insects is getting more trendy; and possibly necessary if the world is to feed its growing population. With crustaceans and insects being anatomically similar, people with crustacean allergies are advised to be cautious (read more about insects here).

I don’t often see a ‘may contain crustacean’ label, but, as a vegetarian, I often come across prawns in vegetarian dishes. I’m not allergic like Jerry, but I detest prawns! Is the use of crustaceans in (British) food sufficiently niche that there’s little risk of cross-contamination? Would that explain why we don’t see many ‘may contain traces of crustacean’ labels? I imagine it’s more difficult than it appears on face value. Prawn crackers do contain prawn but prawn cocktail flavoured crisps do not. So happily, we’re able to eat the classic Skips on a crustacean-free diet, even if we have to avoid exotic food. That provides some relief, right!?

Thanks for reading this part of my series on the top 14 allergens. To find out what I’ve learnt about the other 13 please head to the blog series home.




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