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Meat allergy

Restani, Patrizia; Ballabio, Cinzia; Tripodi, Salvatore; Fiocchi, Alessandro

Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology: June 2009 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 265–269
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32832aef3d
Food allergy: Edited by Alessandro Fiocchi and Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn

Purpose of review: This review summarizes the scientific evidence on meat allergy, an unusual disorder, whose prevalence in some European countries (such as Italy) may be increasing.

Recent findings: Data reported in this review underline some interesting points: in meats rarely consumed, such as kangaroo, whale and seal, the main allergens are only partially correlated to those detected in beef or other usually consumed meats; cross-reactivity and cross-contamination are critical aspects, which should be seriously considered by allergologists.

Summary: Meat allergy is normally outgrown during the first years of life, so that it is rare in adults. Beef among mammals and chicken among birds are most frequently involved. The major allergens are serum albumins and immunoglobulins, but there are a few reports of allergies to muscle proteins (actin, myosin and tropomyosin). As meat allergenicity can be reduced by various treatments (heat, homogenization and freeze-drying), the consumption of meat derivatives by children allergic to meat proteins is often permitted. Cross-reactivity has been described between different meats, between meat and milk or eggs and between meat and animal dander. There are some reports of cross-contamination associated with the inadequate cleaning of industrial or butchers' equipment. All these aspects may have serious implications for clinical practice.

aDepartment of Pharmacological Sciences, State University of Milan, Milan, Italy

bPediatric Allergology Unit, Sandro Pertini Hospital, Rome, Italy

cDepartment of Child and Maternal Medicine, The Macedonio Melloni Hospital, Milan, Italy

Correspondence to Professor Patrizia Restani, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, State University of Milan, via Balzaretti 9, 20133 Milan, Italy Tel: +39 02 50318371; fax: +39 02 50318260; e-mail: patrizia.restani@unimi.it

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