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Anchovies Allergy? Read This Before You Eat Another Meal.

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One day I was about to – I thought – enjoy a caesar salad. After taking a bite my lips suddenly swelled and my throat itched. Then I broke out in hives. Having symptoms of an allergic reaction, I looked for answers. So what was the culprit? I found out I had an anchovies allergy.

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here. Keep in mind food production can change, always check food labels to be sure products are free of your particular food allergen. For further information please see full Disclaimer.

Symptoms of an Anchovies Allergy

If you suspect that you have an anchovy allergy, see a Board Certified Allergist to find out. Food allergy symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty swallowing or a tight feeling in throat
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting

Food allergies may occur at any point in life, even if you have already had the food without issues in the past. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) about 40% of individuals with a fish allergy experience their first allergic reaction as an adult.

Anchovies are Considered a Fish Allergy

Anchovies are a type of finned fish. Other types of finned fish include bass, cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, trout, mahi mahi, and salmon along with many other species of fish. If you have an anchovy allergy it does not necessarily mean that you are allergic to all finned fish.

Fish allergies are different from shellfish allergies. Shellfish include crabs, lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, and many more. The term “seafood” encompasses both fish and shellfish. So be sure to be clear with correct terms when you communicate with others about your food allergy.

Talk to your Board Certified Allergist to find out if you are allergic to all fish or a particular species of fish. It is not uncommon to be allergic to more than one type of finned fish. Having  a fish allergy does not necessarily mean that you will have a shellfish allergy. However, cross contamination is always a concern.

How Common is an Anchovies Allergy

The exact number is not known. However, approximately 6.6 million Americans have either a  Physician-diagnosed and/or convincing seafood allergy which is about 2.3% of the general population.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) notes that of this 2.3% about 1% of this is from a fish allergy. This is roughly 3 million Americans who have a fish allergy.

How to Look for Anchovies on Food Label

Always look at the nutrition food label if diagnosed with a food allergy. Because anchovies are classified as a fish, they must be clearly listed on the label. Food products containing fish are affected by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).  

Anchovies should be listed on the food label in at least one of three ways:

  1. In the ingredient list, using the allergen’s common name (anchovy).
  2. By  citing the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen—for example, “Contains anchovies.”
  3. Noting the common name of the allergen in parentheses when the ingredient is a less commonly known name of the allergen.

The type of fish should be declared on the food label (example:  anchovy).

Be sure to look out for anchovies in food items such as worcestershire sauce, caesar salad dressing AND caesar salad, Bouillabaisse, fish stock, seafood flavoring, remoulade, fish oil supplements or other nutrition supplements, anchovy paste, anchovy essence, anchovy extract, and imitation crab.

Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies.  Anchovy Allergy.  Fish Allergy.
Worcestershire sauce often contains anchovies.

Made in a Facility/Cross Contamination Statements

Food manufacturers may use equipment to produce multiple products. This may lead to cross contamination of allergens. Some manufacturers disclose this information and others do not.

These types of statements, unfortunately, are not required in the U.S. Call the manufacturer to learn about their manufacturing practices. Be sure to do your research about possible contamination with fish.

This Website Does Not Provide Medical Advice:  The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Final Thoughts

An anchovy allergy may not develop until adulthood. Anchovies are a fish allergy. Being allergic to anchovies does not necessarily mean you are allergic to all fish. Talk to a Board Certified Allergist about your specific situation.

Be careful consuming food items that contain Worcestershire Sauce or Caesar Salad Dressing. Always look at the food label and talk to chefs/cooks.

Lastly, be sure to carry an epinephrine auto injector if you have a food allergy.

Last Updated on December 2, 2022 by Amber DeVore, RD, CSSD, CLT

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