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