Beef Allergy

Table of Contents


What Is A Beef Allergy (Alpha-Gal Syndrome)?

A beef allergy is an adverse reaction to eating red meat or after exposure to other products containing alpha-gal. Beef allergies are becoming more common in the U.S. and other parts of the world. This allergy is related to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in mammalian cell membranes. Because of this, a beef allergy is also called alpha-gal syndrome. This allergy can be caused by Lone Star ticks. A bite from this tick has caused many people to develop an allergy to beef.

A food coloring allergy can also explain an allergic reaction to beef. Some people show reactions to carmine, the main dye found in red meat. A typical allergic reaction to beef or alpha-gal has a delayed onset. Most symptoms occur 3-8 hours after consumption, which has made the allergy hard to diagnose. They can be mild or severe. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of a beef allergy

Beef Allergy Symptoms

  • Hives, itching, or beef allergy rash
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat, or other body parts
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Anaphylaxis

Some medications also contain alpha-gal. So, if you experience symptoms of a beef allergy after eating beef, you may need to avoid medications with alpha-gal epitopes.

Medications that include alpha-gal epitopes:

  • Cetuximab, used in chemotherapy
  • Crotalidae antivenom, used to treat snake bites
  • Equine antivenom, used to treat snake bites
  • Infliximab, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis

For a full list of medications that include alpha-gal epitopes, contact your pharmacy. You should also consult with a food allergy doctor for a beef allergy food list.

Beef Allergy Diagnosis

Beef allergy can be difficult to diagnose. You may need a food challenge or elimination diet. A food challenge involves consuming beef in a safe, clinical setting while an allergist watches for a reaction. An elimination diet means removing beef from your diet for a couple of weeks to see if symptoms subside.

This allergy can also be diagnosed with a blood test. An allergy blood test can measure the amount of alpha-gal antibodies in your blood. This test is more accurate than other methods of beef allergy testing, but it can take several days to get your results. During this time, it’s best to avoid beef allergy foods.

Beef Allergy Treatment

There is not a cure for beef allergies; however, you can possibly prevent a beef allergy reaction. Start by protecting yourself from tick bites. When outdoors, use tick repellent. Also, wear long sleeves while hiking in rural areas where Lone Star ticks are present. They can be found in the southeastern part of New York.

To treat your symptoms related to this beef allergy sensitivity, ask an allergist about the best medications for your condition. For most severe food allergies, an epinephrine injection needs to be prescribed to treat possible anaphylaxis. Your allergist will teach you to use an EpiPen or Auvi-Q. You should carry this with you in the event of a beef allergy reaction.

For a beef allergy diagnosis and other allergy care, contact a board-certified allergist. At NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, all of our physicians have extensive experience in allergy, immunology, sinus, and asthma care. We offer convenient allergy and sinus clinics throughout Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Our allergists are available six days a week. Call (212) 686-6321 to book your appointment today!

Beef Allergy Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Be Allergic to Beef?

If you’ve been bitten by a Lone Star Tick, you might be allergic to beef. Call one of our allergy specialists for a diagnosis.

How Do I Know if I’m Allergic to Beef or Just Intolerant?

Visit an allergist for an allergy test and they will determine if you are allergic or just sensitive to beef. You should still avoid beef if you are intolerant.

How Is Beef Allergy Diagnosed?

An allergist can diagnose your beef allergy with a quick allergy test. In many cases, you will need a food challenge to confirm the diagnosis of a beef allergy.

How Is Beef Allergy Treated?

Beef allergy is treated with strict avoidance and antihistamines. For more serious allergies, you may need an epinephrine auto-injector. Your allergist can train you how to use it.

How Rare Is A Beef Allergy?

Beef allergy is a very rare condition and not well documented. While severe cases have been documented, research does not account for mild cases that go unknown.

Is Beef Allergy Curable?

No, beef allergy is not curable. However, if you’re allergic to beef, contact NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for allergy management.

What Are The Risk Factors Of A Beef Allergy?

If you are allergic to ticks, then you may be at risk of developing a beef allergy. Be sure to get allergy tested at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers to determine your allergies.

When Do People Develop A Beef Allergy?

Beef allergy can occur in children and adults. People can show symptoms as early as 3 years old.

Why Are People Allergic to Beef?

Most people are allergic to beef because of a Lone Star Tick bite. If you’ve been bitten by a tick, seek treatment from a board-certified allergist.