There are a lot of food allergies, but for some reason not to meat (mammalian meat or poultry) or mushrooms. I've googled a bit, and now I know that one can actually have a meat or mushroom allergy, although the odds of that are very-very small. Why is it so?

Is it because both meat and mushrooms are usually cooked and that kills potential allergens? What about undercooked or raw food like portobellos or carpaccio and steaks? Or is it because animal tissues are so similar to ours and so are better digested? What about mushrooms then? Is it something else?

Also, are there any data of what types of meat and mushrooms are most allergic?

  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean few mammal meat allergies? There are many fish and invertebrate (e.g., shellfish) allergies. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    May 28, 2013 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, excluding seafood. I'll fix the wording. $\endgroup$
    – ftt
    May 28, 2013 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect that the reason mammalian meat allergies are so rare is that they cause extreme morbidity or mortality in kids. Essentially, most components of mammalian meat are going to be very similar or identical to self-antigens and therefore, your immune system will destroy your own body from the inside out. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2013 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ Chinmay Kanchi, yes, that's plausible to me. But do you know anything to support this hypothesis? $\endgroup$
    – ftt
    May 29, 2013 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @ftt Nope. That's why it was a comment and not an answer ;) $\endgroup$ May 30, 2013 at 11:32

1 Answer 1


Whilst it is true that animal cells are more like our own, I'm not sure that would be the reason for non-allergic responses. If we take xenografts (transplanting pig organs for example) we see a profound response.

The latter theory of it having a higher mortality is more closer to the truth. Typically we observe that things we are given from childhood causes induction of tolerance (T reg cells). However this occurs best at a young age and if given orally. Peanut allergies for example are incredibly infrequent in Japan for example. Meat is given typically from a young age.

However what about the vegetarian converts or exposure to new foods as you grow older. Well the theory suggested for this are some antigens act to signal the immune system. These proteins are similar to the cell signals our body uses to tell the body there's a fight on, we are being invaded by something dangerous. This causes an immune system reaction to build up, specfically IgE antibodies. Thus on subsequent exposure, the response is stronger due to a preformed response.

Although these are they hypotheses, they're being actively investigated because frankly they can't be that simple. And of course there is conflicting evidence.

Interestingly, I've met a person with mushroom allergy. It does occur. Maybe polymorphisms (slight genetic differences) means someone responds to antigens others don't?

  • $\begingroup$ I know two or three people with fungus allergies. In at least one of these people, mushrooms can trigger the allergic reaction. $\endgroup$ May 30, 2013 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AndroidPenguin, you say these hypotheses are being investigated, can you point to any papers? Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – ftt
    Jun 1, 2013 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ See "the hygiene hypothesis" $\endgroup$ Jun 1, 2013 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ Please add some references $\endgroup$ May 21, 2015 at 3:59

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