Tangerines are in the Rutaceae
family of plants, also called citrus fruits. Other foods in the group are grapefruits, oranges, lemons and lime.
Tangerine oranges are also sometimes known as mandarins. The allergen associated with tangerine allergy is called Cit r 3.
Cit r 3 is a Lipid Transfer Protein
(LTP), these proteins are resistant to heat and are found in many types of plants. Patients suffering from a more severe allergy to cooked fruit may be sensitised to this group of proteins.
There is a case study (link at the bottom) of anaphylaxis due to the consumption of tangerine seeds - most likely a cross reaction from a nut allergy (as there are commonly seed storage proteins
in the seeds of fruits). This is a very rare occurrence tangerines and oranges are not usually considered to be cross reactive with tree nuts. You can read more about anaphylactic reactions to fruit HERE
Tangerines contain furanocoumarins
. These chemicals can get on the skin and in combination with ultraviolet light (sunlight) can cause a sunburn like rash. Furanocoumarins are found in higher concentrations in fresh herbs and are natural irritants which can cause allergic contact dermatitis. This is more common in occupations where you are frequently coming into contact with the food, like chefs, cooks, growers and pickers.
Citrus fruits are often considered to be high in histamine
and are to be avoided by those following a low histamine diet. These fruits are in fact high in putrescine, another biogenic amine which can have similar symptoms. You can continue to eat citrus fruits if they do not cause any intolerance symptoms.
Tangerine is a low FODMAP food. 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.
Tangerine is a food high in salicylates
. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
You may be suffering from LTP Syndrome
if you have reactions to various fruits, vegetables and nuts and your reactions continue to be severe after you have discarded the peel and have cooked the food.
You may have allergic contact dermatitis if you have skin problems after coming into contact with tangerine essential oils or are sensitive to the chemicals in the peel.
Common foods involved in LTP allergy include kiwi, strawberries, sunflower seeds, walnut, apple, mulberry, banana, pea, apricot, cherry, plum, almond, peach pomegranate, raspberry, tomato, grape, celery, peanut, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, chestnut, lemon, tangerine, orange, hazelnut, lettuce, lentils, lupin, green bean, pear, mustard, wheat and maize.
Please note that the food list is not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.
Allergen Encyclopedia - Oranges
DermNet NZ - Contact Dermatitis to Essential Oils
Lipid Transfer Proteins (LTP Syndrome)
Allergy to Fruit - Anaphylaxis Campaign
Do You Have a Citrus Allergy? Learn the Symptoms
What You Need to Know About Allergic Reaction to Essential Oils
Healthline - FODMAP
ATP Science - Salicylate Foods
Articles and Journals
Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis to orange, with possible underlying thaumatin-like protein allergy, 2023
Pomegranate seed allergy in a child with multiple tree nut allergies, 2023
Safety and efficacy of combined essential oils for the skin barrier properties: In vitro, ex vivo and clinical studies, 2022
Allergic reactions to emerging food allergens in Canadian children, 2021
Lemon seed allergy: a case presentation, 2020
Co-sensitization to the fruit seeds and raw potato in children with cashew nut allergy, 2020
Lipid Transfer Protein allergy in the United Kingdom: Characterization and comparison with a matched Italian cohort, 2019
Citrus Allergy from Pollen to Clinical Symptoms, 2013
Anaphylaxis caused by tangerine seeds, but not tangerine fruit, 2008
Anaphylaxis to lemon soap: citrus seed and peanut allergen cross-reactivity, 2007
Anaphylaxis from Mandarin (Citrus reticulata): Identification of Potential Responsible Allergens, 2007
Lipid transfer proteins and allergy to oranges, 2005
Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful.
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