Shellfish

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Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Although most kinds of shellfish are harvested from saltwater environments, some kinds are found only in freshwater. In addition a few species of land crabs are eaten, for example Cardisoma guanhumi in the Caribbean.

Familiar marine molluscs enjoyed as a food source by humans include many species of clams, mussels, oysters, winkles, and scallops. Some crustaceans commonly eaten are shrimp, prawn, lobster, crayfish, and crabs.[1] Echinoderms are not as frequently harvested for food as molluscs and crustaceans, however sea urchin roe is quite popular in many parts of the world.[2][3]

Most shellfish eat a diet composed primarily of phytoplankton and zooplankton.[4]

Shellfish are among the most common food allergens.[5]

Contents

Terminology

The term shellfish is used both broadly and specifically. In common parlance, as in having "shellfish" for dinner, it can refer to anything from clams and oysters to lobster and shrimp. For regulatory purposes it is often narrowly defined as filter-feeding molluscs such as clams, mussels, and oyster to the exclusion of crustaceans and all else.[6]

Although the term is primarily applied to marine species, edible freshwater invertebrates such as crayfish and river mussels are also sometimes grouped under the umbrella of "shellfish".

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