Snail Allergy Test
Latin name: Helix aspersa
Source material: Whole snail
Common names: Snail, Sea snail, Escargot
Snail is a food which may result in allergy symptoms in sensitised individuals.
Snail Allergy Test: Allergen Exposure
Snails are shelled gastropods of various species, which may live on land, in freshwater or in the sea. They are consumed by humans as food in some cultures, and the practice of raising them for food is known as heliciculture. Historically, even in cultures where they are not usually eaten, they have provided an emergency food source in times of famine.
The countries where snails are most popular as a delicacy include France, as well as regions of Portugal, Sardinia, and Spain. They are also an important part of the cuisines of Crete, and Greece, as well as of the North African countries Algeria and Morocco. In Asia, they are commonly eaten in China, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and India. When used as food, snails are often referred to by the French name “escargots”.
Snails are usually sold and cooked live, although precooked canned or jarred snails are widely available. Both the meat and roe are eaten, the latter in a similar style to caviar.
Common methods of preparation include frying, steaming or boiling. In France, they are most often served with garlic butter, chicken stock or wine, as well as garlic, thyme, parsley and pine nuts.
In Spain, particularly in Valencia, they are a traditional ingredient in the rice dish paella. In Morocco, boiled snails in broth are a popular street food, and believed to be an effective remedy for colds. In Cretan cuisine snails are boiled in white wine with bay leaves, celery and onion, and then breaded and fried.
Snail is low in saturated fat, but relatively high in cholesterol. It is a good source of protein and potassium, and a very good source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and selenium.
Skin creams derived from snails are sold for use on wrinkles, scars, dry skin, and acne.
Snail Allergy Test: Allergen Description
No specific allergens present in snail have been characterised, although a number of proteins have been identified.
Snail Allergy Test: Potential Cross-Reactivity
Allergy to snail is most often associated with allergy to other related molluscs. Cross-reactions are found between molluscs, especially within the same class (bivalves, cephalopods or gastropods).
Therefore those allergic to bivalves (clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops) are likely to react to other bivalves, while those reacting to gastropods (abalone, limpets, snails, winkles and whelks) are likely to react to other gastropods.
A possible cross-reactivity between snails and house dust mites has been reported.
Snail Allergy Test: Clinical Experience
Shellfish (which includes both land and sea/freshwater snails) is one of the more common food allergies, and usually persists throughout the patient’s lifetime. The majority of people (around 60%) of shellfish-allergic people experience their first allergic reaction as adults.
Symptoms can be severe and potentially life-threatening, including anaphylaxis. Even very small amounts of shellfish can provoke a reaction.
Exposure to the steam from cooking shellfish has been reported to cause an allergic reaction in some cases, due to the presence of allergenic proteins in the steam.
Shellfish poisoning is a potential consequence of ingesting shellfish (including snails) contaminated with any one of a number of toxins. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea; chills, fever or headache; conjunctival irritation, sneezing and rhinorrhea and even paralysis.