Am I allergic to Patagonian toothfish?
July 12, 2012 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to be allergic to just one specific type of fish? Is this even an allergic reaction? NSFLunch details inside.

So I made the mistake of trying someone else's fish dish last night, since I had forgotten she had ordered the Chilean sea bass. Every time I eat this fish, I end up in the bathroom in the middle of the night. Fortunately last night I had only had one bite, so previously eaten foods were only coming out furiously from one end of my digestive tract (the proper one). Before I realized what caused this, I had eaten full servings of Chilean sea bass, and that leads to some very unpleasant dual action in the middle of the night.

Anyway, I have assumed it is because I'm allergic to Chilean sea bass. I am totally fine eating all other fish and shellfish, raw and cooked. And I have no other food allergies that I'm aware of. I'm pretty certain it's not food poisoning, because it consistently happens with this one type of fish (and one time was at a wedding, where half of the 200+ people had the same dish and no one else was sick from it).

So is this a thing that is possible? I have googled to no avail (though my google skills are pretty terrible). And is my reaction (which sounds more like food poisoning to me) actually an allergic reaction? And for the bonus round: Is there another type of fish that is very closely related to the Patagonian toothfish that I should maybe avoid?
posted by Grither to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
Could it have been escolar? (recent post on "The Ex-Lax Fish")

vernacular names for escolar (eg, butterfish, walu, sea bass, white tuna or ono)
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:44 AM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: Hmmm, I doubt it. Explosive, certainly, but definitely not yellow or oily. Thanks for the link, though, I'm definitely adding "ohmypants!" tag to this question.
posted by Grither at 4:54 AM on July 12, 2012

Yes, it is possible. I am only allergic to three specific nuts, for instance. A specialist allergy centre may be able to help you make a confirmed diagnosis.
posted by wingless_angel at 5:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I cannot eat cod or pollock - terrible stomach cramps every time. Other fish, fine!

I was told recently by a colleague who has a similar problem, that it is not the fish that she and possibly I am allergic to/intolerant of, but a particular bacteria which lives in certain types of fish. It's naturally-occurring so it doesn't matter how fresh the fish is. I need to confirm that theory with A Scientist though :)
posted by greenish at 6:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could it be possible that it's an ingredient that Chilean Sea Bass is usually/always cooked with? Like bacon and eggs...Chilean Sea Bass and x ....and it's x that you're allergic to?
posted by taff at 6:18 AM on July 12, 2012

It could also be the fish wasn't completely cooked. My father is allergic to raw shrimp, but not cooked shrimp.
posted by emilynoa at 7:23 AM on July 12, 2012

A friend of mine, who never really liked shrimp, found that the few times she ate it (often accidentally in dim sum), she ended up throwing up and having diarrhea. So she talked to an allergist about it. His professional opinion: it wasn't an allergy; shrimp just "doesn't agree with you, so don't eat it."
posted by maxim0512 at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2012

Yeah, it's definitely possible that it simply doesn't agree with you, for no particular reason. Digestion is weird.

If you're concerned from a medical standpoint, sure, see an allergist. Assuming your insurance covers it, what could it harm?
posted by Sara C. at 8:06 AM on July 12, 2012

I can't digest bluefish properly and pretty much all other fish are fine. So my anecdata says don't eat the sea bass.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:39 AM on July 12, 2012

I am very allergic to some fish, and not at all to others -- so yes, it is possible. Different types of fish have different types of proteins, some of which my body hates.
posted by wrok at 11:07 AM on July 12, 2012

Yep, I'm allergic to catfish and tuna, but all other fish is fine.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers folks! I will continue to eat everything I possibly can, and just avoid the Chilean Sea Bass. Which I hear is being overfished anyway, so win-win.

Just hope I don't develop any other allergies along the way.
posted by Grither at 5:30 AM on July 13, 2012

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