Beef allergy: a review of 12 cases.Allergy 2003; 58(2):127-31A
Although beef allergy has long been considered a rare condition, the number of studies regarding the nature, epidemiology, and symptoms of beef allergy has been increasing. We aimed to describe the results of allergy work-up of 12 patients who have a convincing history of acute allergic symptoms following beef ingestion.
Detailed histories of 10 children and two adult relatives were obtained and patients underwent skin prick tests with commercial beef extract, raw beef and cooked beef. Serum total and beef-specific IgE were measured. Labial, and in selected cases, open food challenges were undertaken.
Interestingly, the rate of family history of beef allergy was 67% (8/12). Three patients (two with commercial extract, and one with cooked beef) had positive skin test responses to beef. Ten (83%) patients had elevated serum IgE concentrations (median 316.5 kU/l, range 9-1321 kU/l) and the beef-specific IgE was positive in all patients (median 6.23 kUA/l, range 0.83-36.6 kUA/l). Labial food challenge was positive in four (30%) patients. Of the five patients who underwent open food challenges, three were positive and two tolerated the beef administered.
We conclude that skin prick tests do not accurately diagnose IgE-mediated sensitization to beef. Thus, patients with suspected beef allergy should be screened additionally for beef-specific IgE antibodies, and in selected cases oral food challenge should be carried out to verify the diagnosis.