A tick bite gave me a bizarre and deadly allergy to beef, lamb, and pork — so WHY can I still eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers carefree, asks ELIZA McPHEE
- I developed the meat allergy to mammals after being bitten by a tick at age 14
- I can’t eat beef, lamb, or pork – but I can eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers
- My allergy developed into fatal anaphylaxis and I now need an epi-pen
- Other symptoms include outbreak of a rash all over the body with large hives
- Allergy specialists say reactions may depend on how the meat is cooked
I’d always loved meat growing up – sausage sandwiches, lamb chops and, of course, Christmas ham.
So I was far from excited to find out that I had developed a red meat allergy at age 14.
I was bitten by a tick and developed what is now known as a mammalian meat allergy, causing me to develop the potentially life-threatening condition anaphylaxis, meaning I have to wear an epi-pen.
One reaction was so severe that I had to be taken to hospital by ambulance after my GP received an injection of steroids and antihistamines.
Now at 25, I haven’t eaten beef, lamb, or pork in years.
But there’s one food I’ve managed to keep down without breaking out in hives: McDonald’s cheeseburgers.
I love it. Despite being allergic to red meat I managed to keep down McDonald’s cheeseburgers without getting any reaction
It is an experience that has both delighted and shocked me.
Normally, if I sank my teeth into a beef burger, I’d be covered in a painful itchy rash that spreads all over my body from head to toe within five hours.
My last reaction was in 2017, when I was still allowed to eat pork and devoured a bacon and spring roll for breakfast.
WHAT IS MAMMALIAN MEAT ALLERGY?
Some people who have been bitten by a tick can develop what is called a meat allergy to mammals.
The allergy prevents people from eating beef, ox, lamb, pork, bacon, ham, venison, venison, veal, goat, buffalo, rabbit, kangaroo, and in some cases animal by-products such as dairy and gelatin.
The allergy is most common along the east coast of Australia and people can develop it months after a bite.
Symptoms usually appear between two and 10 hours after meat is consumed and include hives, itching, stomach pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, fainting, and swelling of the tongue.
About 60 percent of cases develop anaphylaxis.
It is believed that the allergy comes from a sugar molecule called alpha-galactose, which can be passed from animals to humans through tick saliva, but doctors are unclear about how this affects meat intolerance.
People are advised to freeze ticks before removing them. You can buy tick freezing sprays at drug stores.
It would be my last.
Hours later, I squirmed on the floor, trying to stop myself from scratching the rash that had cropped up all over my body.
Even a cold shower didn’t help and after I started feeling wheezing I knew this reaction was different from the others and I was taken to the hospital.
A subsequent allergy test confirmed that the intolerance had now extended to pork. Goodbye Christmas ham.
But it seemed like I was immune to the ill effects of the $2 cheeseburgers my favorite fast food restaurant sells.
At age 25, I haven’t had a bite of beef, lamb or pork in years, thanks to a tick bite at age 14 that caused me to develop an allergy to some meats
Itching crazy! If I sank my teeth into beef, pork, or lamb, within five hours I would be writhing on the floor in pain and trying to stop scratching the rash that had spread all over my body (stock image)
Without doubting it for a second, I continued to enjoy Macca’s – much to the shock of my friends.
So why can’t I eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers? After all, we’ve all heard the stories about cheeseburgers that can last for years without rotting.
dr. Andrew Broadfoot, an immunology and allergy specialist from Sydney – the same guy who tested me for my allergy – said it often comes down to the way a piece of meat is cooked.
“Red meat in particular is known to affect cooking and there are many factors in terms of digestion,” he said.
‘In your case [with McDonald’s], there are probably a lot of preservatives.’
When asked if my tolerance for cheeseburgers was unusual, Dr. Broadfoot said it was not uncommon for people with the allergy to eat certain foods.
“I know people who can eat a really well-cooked steak,” he said.
McDonald’s said it uses “100 percent real beef” in its burgers — but my ability to eat them without undergoing a reaction may have to do with the way they’re cooked
‘It depends on the preparation of the meat and whether it is well cooked. Some people (with the allergy) may be fine because the cooking process has changed the allergen.
“Whatever the food is prepared with and the temperature at which it is cooked can also influence (a reaction).”
When asked about their cooking processes, McDonald’s confirmed that they use “100 percent Australian beef” in their products.
A spokeswoman did not respond to specific questions – but that doesn’t stop me from having my favorite meal.
WIFE CLAIMS MCDONALD’S CHEESEBURGER AND FRIES NOT ROTATED IN TEN YEARS
In 2016, a Reddit user went viral after posting a photo of a McDonald’s cheeseburger and chips that she claims hasn’t started to rot after 10 years.
Although the food looks dry and hard, there is no visible mold and does not appear to be spoiled in any way.
A Post-it note on the board read: “Bought in April 2006. Never kept refrigerated. Do not eat!’
The McDonald’s burger and fries that’s been sitting on a plate for 10 years. Reddit user standbacknow posted a photo of the food, saying that someone he knew bought it in April 2006. The food has no visible mold and just looks dry and hard
Some resented the idea that food looked exactly the same after 10 years, but others argued that it was the high salt content and low moisture content in the burger and fries that kept it looking fresh.
McDonald’s has previously come under fire for its food lasting an abnormally long time without rotting.
In 2010, Jennifer Lovdahl, 33, a chiropractor from Anchorage, Alaska, bought a happy meal from McDonald’s and left it in her office for six years.
Long-Lasting: Jennifer Lovdahl took to Facebook to share this photo of a McDonald’s Happy Meal she claimed to have bought in 2010 to show it had yet to decompose six years later
The fast food chain insists that its food will rot under the right conditions.
‘Food needs moisture in the air to form mold,’ explains McDonald’s.
“Without it, food will just dry out — kind of like bread left overnight on a counter to make croutons for stuffing.”
“You may have seen experiments that don’t seem to show decomposition in our food. Most likely this is because the food dried out before visible damage could occur.’