I write about food additives and other problems related to edibles almost every day but I had a surprise experience yesterday. I was having lunch with some of my writer friends at a fine Greek restaurant. Since I’ve known for years that I can’t eat shrimp because I am allergic to it, I never eat it.  I also avoid salt at all costs for a variety of medical reasons.

The waiter was very nice and I asked him for a dish that had no or very little salt. He said the only one in the restaurant was Kalamari (also spelled Calamari). That’s the name of squid.

After lunch, my belly began to swell. I thought was just indigestion but when I began to look pregnant—and I am way past the possibility—my son said I think you are having an allergic attack. I found it hard to believe but when I began to wheeze and cough, I took the appropriate allergy medicine my doctor had prescribed.

Food allergies are now the leading cause of anaphylactic reactions treated in emergency departments in the US, according to the AmericanAcademyof Asthma and Allergy. The organization estimates there are 29,000 anaphylactic reactions to foods treated in emergency departments and nearly 200 deaths due to food allergies each year.

Seafood allergies – including scaly fish and shellfish (i.e. crustaceans and mollusks) – are the most common causes of food allergy. Seafood can be a powerful allergen for certain people, causing life-threatening, anaphylactic reactions. Seafood allergies are life-long.

Included in the allergy inducing seafood are a type of shellfish, “Mollusks,” Abalone, oysters, mussels, and squid (Calamari). There are many types of squid, and they occupy a huge range of sizes. Squids may be any size between 1 inch and 80 feet long. The word “calamari” is Italian for squid. Squid is called calamari in English-speaking countries because it is believed that the word “squid” sounds unappetizing. Another type of shellfish, “Crustaceans,” encompasses lobsters, crayfish, prawns, crabs and shrimp. I didn’t think that squid had a shell. But the squid I ate which had no salt and no sauce did cause quite a reaction in my body. By researching it, I learned Calamari is one of the most common causes of seafood allergic reactions so I thought I would tell you what I didn’t know. The dish was delicious and the service great at the restaurant. I had fun with my writer companions discussing the chaos in the publishing industry. The price I paid for eating the dish was more than the cost on the check

l. For further information about seafood allergies, check with:The Asthma and Allergy Foundation:1-800-7-ASTHMA . The email .

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