Red meat allergies uncommon but dangerous

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Allergy to Lamb, beef, pork, horsemeat, rabbit or even kangaroo remains uncommon, Dr Martine Drouet of Angers University Hospital assures us, but if it does occur the results can be dramatic.

Literature on the subject reports some cases of grave renal insufficiency caused by the ingestion of pork, for example.

Fortunately, in the great majority of cases, the symptoms usually only take the form of swollen lips, itching, cheek oedema, urticaria or rhinitis or conjunctivitis.

For allergy specialists, the challenge is to identify the allergen or allergens responsible.

Very often, food allergy to meat forms part of crossover allergy: for example, between mammal hair and meat, or between poultry meat and egg.

But there can also be more unexpected repercussions such as a crossover allergy between certain meats and certain drugs.

For example, people who are allergic to pork may well react to heparin. And there’s a good reason – the anticoagulants the drug contains are derived from pig intestine.

Serum albumin, also implicated in milk allergy, is often responsible for allergies to meat – pork and beef in particular.

The good news is that this protein is destroyed in the cooking process. Although this is not the case with another allergen: myoglobin.

If in any doubt, go and see your GP or consult an allergy specialist.

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