Red Meat Allergy in Humans

Red Meat Allergy in Humans


By Dr. Vishal Dev, Dietitian/Nutritionist

Red meat allergy is a severe allergic reaction. It’s an adverse reaction by the body’s immune system to red meat.

Meat allergies develop when the body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to something in the environment that typically causes no problem in most people.


  • A bite from the Lone Star tick has recently been identified as a cause of red meat allergy. A bite from this tick causes sensitization to the carbohydrate galactose (Alpha-Gal).
  • Although alpha-gal is not the only carbohydrate allergen to have been identified, this allergen does differ from other carbohydrates in terms of being able to cause anaphylaxis (a severe potentially deadly allergic reaction that restricts breathing).

Diagnosis of alpha-gal syndrome can be difficult because the allergic reaction is delayed three to six hours after exposure, compared to minutes for other food allergies.


Following are the common symptoms that can be noticeable enough to get the blood test done for alpha-gal allergy:

  1. Runny/stuffy nose
  2. Sinusitis
  3. Cough
  4. Hives or skin rash
  5. Asthma
  6. Lip swelling
  7. Tongue swelling
  8. Throat swelling
  9. Nausea
  10. Stomach cramps
  11. Indigestion
  12. Diarrhea
  13. Vomiting
  14. Itching
  15. Breathing problems
  16. Eczema
  17. Itchy mouth
  18. Increased heart rate
  19. Low blood pressure
  20. Abdominal pain
  21. Headaches
  22. Sneezing

People who are affected with the alpha-gal allergy have to be constantly vigilant about the ingredients they consume, because an allergic reaction can be severe and life-threatening.

In alpha-gal allergy, the strength of the reaction depends upon many factors such as: the dose of meat, the time of exposure in relation to the tick bite and the type of meat indigested as well as the fat content.

Treatment -

Avoiding mammalian meat is the only available treatment for this allergy currently. If a person still experiences symptoms of alpha-gal and not feeling quite right after cutting mammalian meat out of his/her diet, then he/she may also want to cut out dairy products or at least limit the intake and consult an expert physician for medication.

Stay Healthy!