Beef is a meat from cows, which are in the Bovidae family of animals. Other animals in this family include sheep, goats and buffalo.
There are 12 allergens associated with cows, 3 of them relate to an allergy to consumption of meat (rather than to the milk they produce).
One of the allergenic proteins is a lipocalin, an allergen common in pet hair allergies. These proteins transport molecules like lipids and steroids around the body.
Serum albumin proteins are responsible for allergic reactions to mammalian meat in general, if allergic to many types of red meat then you may have Alpa-gal Syndrome.
If sensitised to Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) only, then you may have issues with eating beef and drinking cow's milk.
Most unprocessed meats are low FODMAP foods, beef is no different. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.
Meats are Salicylates
free, so are unlikely to cause gastrointestinal food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
An allergic syndrome associated with beef allergy is Alpha-gal syndrome
. This is when a person is bitten by a tick. The tick passes on a carbohydrate called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (also known as alpha-gal). This carbohydrate causes an immune reaction to make IgE antibodies. This is an unusual syndrome as it is caused by a carbohydrate and not a protein and because it often causes delayed IgE allergic reactions unlike classic IgE reactions which are very quick.
In extreme cases there may be some cross reactivity between other foods containing serum albumin proteins. These foods include other meats such as pork and lamb.
This is also the case for Alpha-gal Syndrome, other mammalian and bird meats containing serum albumin may cause delayed IgE reactions.
About 10% of cow's milk allergy sufferers will also react to beef when consumed.
Food lists are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.
Science Direct - Galactose-alpha-1-3-galactose
Allergen Encyclopedia - Beef
DermNet NZ - Tick bite induced red meat allergy
Anaphylaxis Campaign - Tick bites and allergic reactions to red meat
ACAAI - Meat Allergy
CDC - Alpha-gal Allergy
Healthline - FODMAP Foods
Articles and Journals
Clinical Use of the ImmunoCAP Inhibition Test in the Diagnosis of Meat Allergy Caused by a Tick Bite in an Adult Male with No Previous Atopic History, 2023
Bos d 13, A Novel Heat-Stable Beef Allergen, 2023
The Meat of the Matter: Understanding and Managing Alpha-Gal Syndrome, 2022
Milk and cow’s meat allergy in a child: A clinical case, 2021
Red meat allergy in children and adults, 2019
The alpha-Gal syndrome: new insights into the tick-host conflict and cooperation, 2019
Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose sensitization is a prerequisite for pork-kidney allergy and cofactor-related mammalian meat anaphylaxis, 2014
Bovine Serum Albumin: a double allergy risk, 2013
Beef allergy: a review of 12 cases, 2003
Anaphylaxis to cow's milk and beef meat proteins, 2002
Beef allergy in children with cow's milk allergy; cow's milk allergy in children with beef allergy, 2002
Beef allergy in children, 2000
Molecular and crystal properties of Bos d 2, an allergenic protein of the lipocalin family, 1998
cDNA cloning and protein analysis of a bovine dermal allergen with homology to psoriasin, 1995
Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful.
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