Pork

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Code: f26
Latin name: Sus spp.
Source material: Raw meat
In a study of asthmatic patients, 20% (children) and 8.6% (adults) were found to have IgE-mediated allergy to pork.

Allergen Exposure

Meat from swine.
30% of the meat is sold fresh, the rest is smoked, frozen, dried or pickled.
 
Unexpected exposure
Undeclared ingredient in processed meat, like sausages, patês, etc.

Potential Cross-Reactivity

There is a high degree of crossreactivity between pork meat and cat epithelium, similar structure of pork serum albumin and cat serum albumin.
Patients sensitized to one species are likely to react to meat and epithelia also from other species.

Clinical Experience

IgE-mediated reactions
Studies on allergic patients show prevalence figures for pork allergy between 1.5% and 20%.
Occupational dermatitis after contact with pork meat has been reported.
 
Review
Probably China has the largest population of domestic swine but scientific breeding has taken place for the most part in Europe, notably Denmark, and the US. Meat from swine accounts for about 43% of the world’s meat production. The domestic pig probably descended from the Eurasian wild pig Sus scrofa. Swine is one of the more primitive groups of the even-toed hoofed animals. A fat pig was worth its weight in gold long ago as an unrivalled energy source. Today, researchers are hard at work attempting to produce lean pigs. About 30% of the meat is sold fresh, the rest is smoked, frozen, dried or pickled. In processed pork, casein derivatives are sometimes used as stabilizers without being labeled as such. Prevalence figures of allergic reactions to pork allergens in allergic patients appear to be between 1.5% and 20% (1-4). In a study of asthmatic patients, 20% (children) and 8.6% (adults) were found to have IgE-mediated allergy to pork using Pharmacia CAP System (3). Studies on pork-meat allergy has revealed a high frequency of concommitant allergy to cat epithelium (5). Further investigations showed that serum albumin is the common allergen and that the frequency of sensitization among cat allergic patients was 14-23% for cat serum albumin and 3-10% for pig serum albumin (6). The high degree of structural similarity between albumins of different animals suggest that patients sensitized by one species are likely to react to several meats and epithelia. It should be noted, though, that exceptions occur. A case of oral allergysyndrom caused by pork had IgE antibodies against several porkproteins, including serum albumin, was allergic to horse dander butshowed no sign of immune responseagainst cat (7). Occupational dermatitis after contact with pork meat has been reported (8).

References

  1. Sampson, HA. Food hypersensitivity as a pathogenic factor in atopic dermatitis. NER Allergy Proc; 1986; 7: 511-519.
  2. Lessof, MH; Wraith, DG; Merret, TG; Merrett, J; Buisseret, PD. Food allergy and intolerance in 100 patients - local and systemic effects. Q J Med; 1980; 49: 259-271.
  3. Sabbah, A. L’allergie alimentaire dans l’asthme de l’enfant (Food allergy and asthmatic children). Allergie et Immunol; 1990; 22: 325-331.
  4. Speer, F. Multiple food allergy. Ann Allergy; 1975; 34: 71-76.
  5. Drouet, M; Sabbah, A. The pork/cat syndrom or crossed reactivity between cat epithelia and pork meat Monogr Allergy; 1996; 32: 164-173.
  6. Hilger,C; Kohnen, M; Grigioni, F; Lehners,C; Hentges, F; Allergic cross-reactions between cat and pig serum albumin. Studies at the protein and DNA level. Allergy; 1997; 52:179-187.
  7. Asero, R; Mistrello, G; Falagiani, P. Oral allergy syndrom from pork. Allergy; 1997;52: 684-686.
  8. Kanerva, L. Occupational IgE-mediatedprotein contact dermatitis from pork in slaughterman. Contact Dermatitis; 1996; 34:301-302.

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.