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News Article

Allergy to red meat: should we consider routine testing?

9% of patients with unexplained anaphylaxis had allergy to red meat say researchers.

Patients diagnosed with ‘unexplained’ anaphylaxis may actually be responding to a carbohydrate in red meat eaten up to 7 hours earlier find a study this week. The allergy is not routinely tested for in anaphylaxis patients in the USA but this study suggests it should be.

Allergy to galactose-α-1,3-galactose, a carbohydrate in red meat similar to the blood group B antigen has only recently been recognised. It mainly occurs in people over 50 with blood groups A or O and is linked to exposure to blood via bites from ticks such as the Lone Star tick in the USA or Haemaphysalis longicornis in Japan. The reaction, which is via IgE antibodies can be delayed 3-7 hours and it can be severe. Most food allergies are to proteins and occur within minutes of food ingestion.

The study followed 70 people with unexplained anaphylaxis and discovered that 6 (9%)of them had IgE antibodies to galactose-α-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal). A meat free diet prevented further episodes of the illness.

Identification of alpha-gal sensitivity in patients with a diagnosis of idiopathic anaphylaxis, Carter MC, Ruiz-Esteves KN, Workman L, Lieberman P, Platts-Mills TAE, Metcalfe DD, Allergy, 2017 DOI: 10.1111/all.13366.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • I. Hoskins
  • Date
  • 30 November 2017
  • Subject(s)
  • Nutrition & disease