Sardine (Pilchard) Allergy Test
Latin name: Sardina pilchardus
Source material: Whole fish
Common names: Sardine, Pilchard
Sardine, or pilchard as the larger fish is called, is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Sardine (Pilchard) Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Sardines are small, oily fish which are widely consumed by humans. They are most commonly sold canned, but are also served fresh (grilled or fried), smoked or pickled.
The largest exporter of canned sardines is Morocco, the majority produced for the European market. Sardines make up the majority of fish caught in Morocco, at around 60% of the total annual catch.
Canned sardines are washed, have their heads removed and are then either smoked, deep fried or steamed, and then dried. They are generally packed in oil, salt or spring water, or in a range of sauces including tomato, mustard and chili.
Fresh sardines are used in recipes such as Moroccan fried stuffed sardines, Portugese sardinhas assadas (grilled sardines), Spanish tapas (usually fried or grilled), Cornish stargazy pie (a baked pie with whole pilchards cooked into the crust), Croatian dugi otok (sardines roasted on sticks) and Keralan curried sardines. “Pasta con le sarde” or “pasta with sardines” is the national dish of Sicily.
They are rich in vitamins and minerals, containing high levels of vitamin B12, B2, niacin, phosphorus, calcium, potassium as well as being an excellent source of marine omega-3 fatty acids.
As sardines are low in the marine food chain, the risk of contamination by mercury is relatively low when compared to other food fish.
Sardine (Pilchard) Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No specific allergens present in sardine have been characterised, although a number of proteins have been identified.
Sardine (Pilchard) Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Species within groups of fish, like Gadiformes (examples: cod and hake) and Scombroid fishes (examples: mackerel and tuna) seem to share allergenic components. The overlap of allergen specificity between the groups seems to be moderate or even small.
Sardine belongs to the same family (Clupeidae) as herring, alewife and menhaden and therefore cross reactivity between these species could be expected.
Sardine (Pilchard) Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Sensitisation to fish allergen is common. Fish, including sardine, is a potential cause of food allergy and atopic dermatitis.
Immediate allergic reactions may follow ingestion of even minute amounts of fish.
Symptoms can include oral allergy syndrome, generalised urticaria, facial angioedema and anaphylaxis.
Because patients react to both cooked and raw fish, it is assumed the allergens are heat-resistant. However, more recent studies indicate that patients may react differently to processed food and that allergic reactions may be species-specific.
It has been reported that some fish allergic persons can exhibit allergic symptoms due to the steam (airborne allergens) from cooking fish.
Acute anisakiasis as a result of the larvae of the fish parasite Anisakis simplex may occur following ingestion of undercooked or raw sardines.
Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, diarrhea, blood and mucus in stool, and mild fever. Allergic reactions with rash and itching, and infrequently, anaphylaxis, can also occur.
Fish allergy is sometimes confused with a reaction to histamine in spoiled fish.