Pork is meat from pigs, they are in the family Suidae
, which includes all species of hogs, warthogs, boar and pigs.
There is one allergen associated with an allergy to pork and that is Sus s 1, this is a serum albumin protein. These proteins are found in lots of other mammalian meats. As humans also have serum albumins in their body it is unusual to become sensitised to these proteins in other foods.
Pork is also linked to Alpha Gal Syndrome
, this is a condition where a person has been 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 allergic syndrome as it is caused by a carbohydrate and not an allergenic protein. Alpha gal reactions are usually severe but delayed, which can distinguish them from a genuine IgE allergy to mammalian meat.
Most meats are low FODMAP foods, pork is no different. FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. 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 salicylate free so are suitable for people following a low salicylate diet. Salicylates have the potential 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.
There is some evidence of cross reactivity between eating pork and allergic reaction to cat skin. This is known as Pork-Cat Syndrome.
A more recent and commonly known syndrome associated with pork 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 beef and chicken.
This is also the case for Alpha-gal Syndrome, other mammalian and bird meats containing serum albumin may cause delayed IgE reactions.
Allergen Encyclopedia - Pork
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
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
Tick Bites and Red Meat Allergy, 2023
The Role of Molecular Allergens in the Diagnosis of Cat-Pork Syndrome: An Unusual Case Report, 2022
Delayed reaction in alpha-gal allergy is reflected in serum levels after ingestion of pork kidney, and absorption is dependent on food processing, 2021
Recurrent urticaria caused by specific cat serum albumin IgE cross-reacting with pork serum albumin, 2020
Red meat allergy in children and adults, 2019
What Does a Red Meat Allergy Have to Do With Anesthesia? Perioperative Management of Alpha-Gal Syndrome, 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
Initial description of pork-cat syndrome in the United States, 2013
Cat-pork syndrome: a case report with a thee years follow-up, 2006
Allergic cross-reactions between cat and pig serum albumin. Study at the protein and DNA levels, 1997
The pork-cat syndrome or crossed allergy between pork meat and cat epithelia, 1994
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