Does Shellfish contain Gluten?

This might seem a silly question. I've just been watching 'Hairy Bikers' on TV and they have showed us how to live clean cockles of grit by putting them in a bowl of water and sprinkling flour or oats on the surface. of the water

The cockles take in the flour and "spit out any grit that they contain", accoding to Hairy Biker ( I like the style of these two guys because they believe in real food).

So, this is why I ask the question.

Are shellfish often treated like this to purge them? Does it include mussels ( memories of a kid and my mum 'cleaning out' live mussels with flour and water). If the shellfish are fed with flour, do they retain some gluten, thus making them unsuitable for coeliacs?

Just a thought.....

26 Replies

  • Hi philaustin, don't know the answer to your question although it's DEFINITELY food for thought!!! I've noticed recently that a lot of the packets of smoked salmon for sale in one large supermarket are marked as 'may contain cereals' (or gluten, can't remember which)...which surprised me. Is this because of what they feed farmed salmon?? As it is, I only buy wild salmon which tends to be Alaskan in that particular shop. So this post about shellfish is very interesting indeed!!! Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Hi Lexy then I suppose you can,t have chicken that has been feed grain then. Just a question.

  • Hi Roscoe, I have absolutely no idea what the issue with the smoked salmon is - hence why I mentioned it in my post - but if you go to a certain supermarket and look at their smoked salmon packets it says either 'may contain cereals' or 'may contain gluten' can't remember which, and I remember being VERY surprised. So above, I was actually asking do people know why some smoked salmon is labelled that way whilst others are not.

    I must admit that I have often wondered particularly about 'corn-fed' chicken: partly because I once heard that it was similar to foie gras in that they more or less 'force-fed' some of the chickens to given them a particular flavour... and partly because I personally don't digest corn at all - I don't get 'glutened' by it, but it just comes out whole (TMI, sorry!). So, as my body is hardly likely to get much benefit from something that passes whole all the way through it, it seems unnecessary to eat it! I do eat products with maize flour however.

  • Aargh! Are you able to say which supermarket? I buy smoked salmon quite a lot and realise I don't always check unless it's obviously in some kind of marinade...

  • Hi Freelancer, it's Tescos, I just didn't want to seem like I was banging on one particular vendor - it's where I have tended to do a lot of shopping over the last few years and I only relatively recently started to REALLY look at ALL packaging - even on fresh fruit and vegetables sold in packets - to see what, if any, ingredients were listed. Of course, just because they are NOT listed doesn't mean they are not in the's a minefield! I don't know about smoked salmon sold in other supermarkets as I haven't looked for a while...

  • Hi Thanks for that. I'll keep an eye out. There isn't a big Tesco near me so I don't get there that often. They're probably not the only ones, though. After a bit you get lazy about assuming it's OK, which is fatal!

    I've had salmon from M&S, Waitrose and Aldi with no problem, but I can't remember which exact brands. Am beginning to think all the money I used to spend on bread and biscuits now goes on things like smoked salmon!

  • I love mussels! I hope they don't have to go on the 'can't haves' list!

  • I'd never heard of this!

    I've never been a fan of seafood, but recently I fancied trying scallops in a restaurant. The waitress confirmed they were gluten free, but later that evening I was incredibly ill - one of my worst 'glutenings' ever. Put it down to the scallops being floured by the chef before being fried.

    Two weeks ago I tried shellfish again, in a fresh out the sea seafood chowder. Later in the evening - seafood chunder.

    I was starting to think I had a shellfish allergy, and was waiting until a quiet weekend when I could cook some at home and see if I reacted. Thanks so much for asking your 'silly question' because it makes a lot of sense to me! I think shellfish will be off my menu again.

  • Yes the scallops were probably floured or contaminated. As for the chowder it may have been padded out with seafood extender which does contain gluten.

    On a recent nigh out I ordered from a gluten free menu and was really ill. It seems the same prep board was used for gluten containing meals as well. A lesson learned by both sides.

  • Hi..

    Seems you might have solved the mystery of me losing weight this week..I had put it down to the cornflakes I had from Co-op even tho CUK say they're ok..but we did have scallops. .


  • I am hoping this is not so, as I have always been a shellfish lover, don't remember my Dad using flour to clean out grit when i was a little. I got married 2 weeks ago and the lady that did my catering, did a shellfish platter for me as she knew i loved seafood, winkles cockles whelks mussels and prawns, some of the things already shelled others not, I had no problems with that at all, only thing not on there was scallops also crab sticks which we know are not gf....

  • I have noticed sometimes prawns make me ill and sometimes not. A little while back i discovered if i use raw uncooked ones and cook myself i am fine.....

    When i was very poorly and sensitive i disvpcovered the very corn-fed chickens upset me, i only had organic for some years. (I have a severe maize/corn allergy)

    This is VERY interesting, not a daft question at all!

    I was alos told some while back that companies use flour on their converyor belt for crisps...walkers in this particular time, sometimes im ok with them, sometimes not, you think you are going cranky, but often .....! Not!

  • Hi Windymillersue, re gf crisps: I tend to only eat Burt's crisps...and I can only find them - sometimes - at Tescos. They never seem to appear at Asdas, Morrisons, or Sainsbury's or at least not in those branches near where I live... (northeast Scotland). I find Tyrel's sometimes ok, other times not. I don't do Kettle crisps in general cause I've found they react with me... But otherwise I just don't touch crisps, especially if they are served as a 'side' with a baked potato when I'm out or whatever.

  • Sainsburys own brand ready salted don't seem to contain gluten and haven't had a reaction. Also their prawn cocktail..but I don't like them. Their own brand Mayo suitable for us too and only 50p!

  • I avoid unless desperate...too fat alreday!

  • hiya nothing to do with question but i had a pack cashew nuts yesterday an guess wot in sml print it said coitains gluten i had had a few by then grrr but was lucky not to bad lol x

  • cashew nuts are a no no for me. just don't agree with me, perhaps they're packed in a place that also handles grains (wheat, barley, rye) ??

  • Re: smoked salmon. I remember from being pregnant that I was warned off all smoked food that hasn't literally been smoked over a fire (this, it turns out, is rare). The list of chemicals (and potentially glutening things) in the smoke flavouring is long and alarming.

  • Sure is and to be avoided.

  • Hi Could you expand on this at all? The one in my fridge at the moment (Sainsbury's Taste The Difference) just says: Salmon (97%), salt, sugar. Surely they'd have to declare other ingredients?

  • I don't know more, sorry. That was the advice the midwife gave me and she didn't explain the science. It's possible yours was actually smoked in actual smoke, in which case that's no problem. And, yes, they have a legal obligation to declare all ingredients of a certain quantity in the finished product, but I'm becoming increasingly sceptical. Sorry to not be more helpful. I('m guessing if yours is real smoked salmon it will say that somewhere...

  • Cheers - just inspected mine and it seems to be properly smoked! I've definitely had some in the past that I didn't get on well with, so will keep a lookout.

  • despite being smoked "Smoked Salmon" remains a RAW fish. along with fresh and soft cheeses, under cooked eggs, etc. these are all out of bounds when you're pregnant

  • Hi Phil, I also came across this shellfish problem a few years ago when we were getting a table at an oceanside restaurant in Spain. I mentioned I was coeliac and I was allocated a particular waiter (felt a bit overkill at the time). He kept shaking his head at the menu describing how some of the shellfish leave the boats packed in a mix of salt and gluten when they arrive at the dockside.

  • It is a silly question, do shell fish live in a field? As you have put if you clean them out with flour that contains gluten then it would contaminate the fish.

  • If is were a silly question we wouldn't wast time posting it here, would we?

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