Sian Baker

Medically reviewed by Sian Baker, Dip ION mBANT mCNHC
on October 26, 2023. 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.

If you experience uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, cramps or an upset stomach every time you eat beef or another type of red meat, then you may suffer from an allergy or intolerance.

The symptoms of an allergy or intolerance can be uncomfortable, unpleasant and potentially painful. Most symptoms are mild, but in some rare instances, they can be severe and lead to breathing difficulties or even anaphylaxis.

In this post, we’ll explore all the important points you should know about beef allergies and intolerances, including the symptoms to look out for and how you can test to see if your body struggles to process or metabolise red meat.

What are the symptoms of a beef allergy?

Because an allergy is caused by the immune system mistaking a certain type of food as harmful, it triggers a response in an attempt to fight it. Immune system cells are located in mucous membranes in the body, which is why many of the symptoms of a beef allergy can be similar to those of a cold or flu. Symptoms include:

  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • A skin rash
  • Swelling and itching around the face and neck
  • Bloating and cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties

In some rare cases, someone with a severe allergy may experience anaphylaxis. Having a beef allergy doesn’t necessarily mean an allergy to other types of red meat, however beef allergy can sometimes be present alongside milk allergy, this is because both come from the same animal, cow.

What are red meats?

Red meats are any type of meat taken from a mammal, such as:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Veal
  • Venison
  • Goat

What is a food intolerance?

A food intolerance is when your body struggles to digest or metabolise a certain type of food. Because of this, many of the symptoms of a beef intolerance are felt around the stomach and digestive system, such as:

  • Bloating and cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain

Generally, the symptoms of an intolerance won’t be as severe as they are with an allergy, but they can be difficult to live with if you don’t know the cause. This is why it’s important to get a diagnosis if you suspect you have an allergy or intolerance.

Can you get a sudden beef intolerance?

Even if you have never experienced symptoms before, you can develop a beef intolerance or allergy at any point during your life. This may happen by itself, as with any type of allergy or intolerance, or following a bite from a lone star tick. 

A bite from a lone star tick can lead to a potentially fatal allergy to certain red meats including beef, pork, venison, and goat, otherwise known as an alpha-gal allergy.

How common is a beef or red meat allergy?

A red meat allergy isn’t one of the most common, but it is becoming more recognised. In the US in 2009 there were just 24 people with a confirmed red meat allergy. Fast forward to 2021, and that number exploded to more than 34,000, as health professionals learn more about the symptoms and causes.

How do you test for a beef or red meat intolerance?

There are several ways you can test to discover if you have a beef or red meat intolerance:

  • Attempt an elimination diet, when you remove beef and other red meats from your diet to see if your symptoms stop.
  • Track what you eat and any symptoms you have in a food diary and see if there’s any crossover.
  • Speak to a doctor and talk to them about your symptoms.
  • Take a food intolerance test, such as an advanced food intolerance test, which specifically tests a sample of your blood against red meat.

What foods should you avoid if you have a beef intolerance or allergy

If you’ve been diagnosed with a beef or red meat allergy or intolerance, or suspect you have one, you should avoid food that contains red meat or fats. This includes:

  • Roasts
  • Ribs
  • Steaks
  • Burgers
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Pies
  • Sausages
  • Gravy
  • Suet

Test to see if you have a beef intolerance

If you experience symptoms after eating beef or other red meats, you may have an allergy or intolerance. If so, it’s recommended that you find out for sure as soon as possible.

To quickly and reliably discover whether you have an intolerance our advanced food intolerance test can give you the answers you need to help you take back control of your health.

The USA's Highest Rated Food Intolerance Test