Sian Baker

Medically reviewed by Sian Baker, Dip ION mBANT mCNHC
on April 9, 2024. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Check My Body Health blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

A buffalo allergy means your body has an adverse reaction to consuming buffalo meat or products containing it. Symptoms can range in severity from mildly unpleasant, like itchy skin or stomach discomfort, to more serious reactions like breathing difficulties or, in rare cases, anaphylaxis. In this post, we’ll delve into the signs of a buffalo allergy, how frequently they occur, and which foods to avoid if you suspect you have this allergy.

Can you actually be allergic to buffalo?

Yes, it’s possible to be allergic to buffalo meat. As noted in this study, buffalo allergy falls under a condition known as Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), which is an allergic response to the sugar alpha-gal found in the meat of mammals, including buffalo. Symptoms of AGS can range from mild to severe, including anaphylaxis, and typically manifest several hours after consuming the allergen.

How common is this allergy?

AGS, including reactions to buffalo meat, has been increasingly recognised worldwide, especially in regions where certain ticks are endemic. Although direct statistics on buffalo allergy are scarce, the prevalence of AGS itself has been on the rise across all continents over the past decade. The rarity of buffalo meat in many diets may make specific allergies to it less commonly diagnosed or reported, but awareness and understanding of AGS are growing.

Signs & Symptoms of a Buffalo Meat Allergy

When it comes to buffalo meat allergy, the symptoms mirror those of other food allergies but are peculiar due to the delayed reaction typically associated with AGS. These reactions can range from mild to severe and usually occur about 3-6 hours after consumption, unlike immediate reactions seen with other food allergens.

What are the symptoms of a buffalo allergy?

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
  • Hives, rash, or itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Breathing difficulties or tightening of the throat
  • Pale or discoloured skin
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

In severe cases, anaphylaxis to buffalo meat, characterised by difficulty breathing, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and dizziness, can occur. This requires immediate medical attention.

What is food intolerance?

Unlike food allergies that involve the immune system, food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, involve the digestive system’s inability to process certain components in foods. Symptoms of food intolerance generally include digestive distress like bloating, gas, and diarrhoea, but do not lead to anaphylactic reactions.

How do you test for a buffalo allergy?

What should you do if you think you have a buffalo allergy?

If you suspect an allergy to buffalo meat, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who can advise on appropriate tests. These may include blood tests to measure specific IgE antibodies to alpha-gal or skin prick tests for immediate-type food allergies, although direct testing for buffalo meat may be challenging to find.

What foods should you avoid if you have a buffalo allergy?

Avoiding all mammalian meats is recommended for individuals with AGS, which includes buffalo. This can help prevent allergic reactions and manage symptoms. Additionally, being aware of and avoiding other sources of alpha-gal, such as certain medications and vaccines, is also necessary.

10 alternatives to mammalian meats

For those needing to avoid buffalo and other mammalian meats, there are several alternatives to consider:

  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Legumes (beans and lentils)
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu and other soy products
  • Seitan (wheat gluten)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products (for those without dairy allergies)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Plant-based meat substitutes

How to test if you have a buffalo allergy or intolerance

Early identification and management of a buffalo meat allergy are critical for preventing severe allergic reactions. Consulting with an allergist and undergoing specific testing are the most effective ways to confirm a buffalo meat allergy and receive guidance on managing it. If you suspect you may have a food intolerance (where symptoms are less severe) you can take our food intolerance test.

Remember, while buffalo meat allergy, as part of AGS, can be challenging to diagnose and manage, understanding the condition and taking preventive measures can significantly improve quality of life. If you believe you have an allergy to buffalo meat or any other form of mammalian meat, consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and management plan.

Interested in learning more about food intolerances and allergies? Consider trying one of our intolerance tests to explore potential sensitivities and allergens affecting your well-being.

Click to buy our best food intolerance test
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