Allergic to lamb? Is that a thing?

(Note: NOT intended as a sneak brag) Our family spent Sunday celebrating kaylasmom’s birthday at Disneyland Resort. Part of the festivities included dinner at the Carthay Circle Restaurant in Disney California Adventure.

Kayla had, as her entree, the herb-crusted lamb scaloppini. No mention was made of the herbs involved in the encrustation, but the dish was prepared with jalapenos, artichoke, roasted red peppers, and a garnish of avocado. Kayla has had pretty much all of those ingredients before, but it was her first encounter with lamb.

After dinner, we returned to the Disneyland park for a parade and a fireworks show, followed by a couple of rides. About three hours after we ate, Kayla had to adjourn to the ladies room, reporting later that she had been experiencing some gastrointestinal distress.

Nothing noteworthy happened to her yesterday, but this evening she called us after work and said that she’s breaking out in hives on her face and arms. She thinks she might be allergic to lamb, and asked me to make an appointment for her with a dermatologist ASAP (it’s after close of business today, so ASAP is going to mean tomorrow morning).

Thankfully, there isn’t anything going on with her mouth, esophagus or airways, but it has me wondering a couple of things: first, is it plausible that an allergy would manifest first as IBS, then wait nearly two days to show up as dermatitis/urticaria? Second, is ovine-based protein commonly seen as a food allergen at all?

FWIW, her beverage choice for the meal was two servings of “Wildberry Lemonade” described as All Natural Lemonade with flavors of Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Blueberry with a Spritz of Purified Sparkling Water, topped with Wildberry Fruit Foam. I don’t think it’s her first encounter with any of those either, except possibly the Wildberry Fruit foam (whatever the hell that is).

We’ll be cramming a couple of Benadryl down her throat when she gets home from rehearsal tonight, but when we see the dermatologist tomorrow, should we maybe concentrate on the dining choices she made yesterday when she went out to explore the hipster eateries of Fullerton with her bff?

Allergic reactions can begin at any time. Any of the foods she drank or ate could cause a reaction, and she has no idea if she’s had those particular ingredients before, and she doesn’t know what else was included in the herb crust. The way to find out is to get tested.

Most people who self-diagnose allergies are wrong. Approximately 1/3 of the population thinks they have food allergies but they don’t. Food allergies are actually quite rare.

I don’t think it’s the lamb. I once ended up in the E.R. due to two servings of strawberry ice cream in one day (or so they seemed to think). Severe hives. It has never happened again, despite eating strawberry ice cream on occasion. Hopefully that is the same for Kayla. But worth it to got to an allergist.

Intuitively -
I wouldn’t think so, I can’t imagine what would be present in lamb that isn’t in other red meats to cause a reaction.

I’m very curious though - how do you get to that age never having taken lamb? Is it really that rare of a dish in the US?

Very rare IME, yes, at least compared with Southern Europe or the UK. Many butchers’ don’t even carry it, or only around Easter.

And as for what could be present: lamb proteins are (by definition) not exactly the same as cow proteins.


Lamb Allergy Symptoms

[li] The commonest symptoms include skin rashes and intense itching coupled with redness of the skin in localized areas.[/li][li] Common cold or hay fever like symptoms appears which include a runny nose, watering eyes and persistent coughing or sneezing.[/li][li] Breathing difficulty due to the congestion in your respiratory tract may cause you to wheeze and become winded due to shortness of breath.[/li][li] Severe, life threatening symptoms are extremely rare after consuming lamb meat but can result in fatal consequences if they occur.[/li][/ul]

But the US locked out NZ lamb in some trade whatever a few years back…Kiwis were a bit upset about it…

Has she eaten other mammal meat recently without issue? There is something called alpha-gal allergy that has been in the news in recent years. It causes an allergic reaction to the meat of any mammal but not to poultry, eggs, or seafood. Cow’s milk usually doesn’t cause a reaction. The allergy is caused by the bite of the Lone Star tick, a species common in the Southeast. Alpha-gal syndrome - Wikipedia

I grew up on lamb, and other sheep-related roasts. One of the few privileges of being a New Zealander. Makes up for the sheep-shagging jokes.

You want an allergist, not a dermatologist. She needs to be tested.

To answer your other question, yes, a reaction can present with gastrointestinal symptoms first.

Decidedly untrue. 6% of infants and 3% of adults have legitimate, IgE-mediated food allergies. Not rare at all.

Tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish are the most common allergens. Throw in milk, egg, soy, and wheat, and you have the vast majority of food allergies falling into one of those categories.

Although Qadgop lists the major food allergy offenders, and those are most likely culprits, any food could potentially provoke an allergy which is why you really should go to an allergist who will also give you advice on symptoms to look for and what to do about them.

So yes, it could be the lamb… but it could be any of all those ingredients she has had before. I’ve known a number of people allergic to strawberries, for example. You can develop an allergy to something you’ve eaten before without symptoms.

If that sounds annoying and complicated, yes, it can be. I strongly advise you seek the advice of a doctor with expertise in this area.

Yes, lamb protein can be an allergen. There is a blood test of the RAST variety checking for lamb allergies in specific. But as broomie noted, lots of other ingredients in that dish could be suspect too.

Yeah, unfortunately I have way too much experience with food allergies.

I was surprised to fjnd out when I was tested that I was very mildly allergic to beef. So I’m sure lamb is possible too.


It’s pretty expensive meat. In my experience, the only type of meat that’s routinely more expensive than lamb is veal.

And you can become allergic to things you have been eating all your life. I started having hives (again; have had allergies all my life, but was pretty much in control) recently and after doing a food elimination diet it was determined I have developed an allergy to wheat. Not gluten, wheat. According to my allergist there are other things about wheat one can react to besides gluten. I’ve been eating plenty of wheat all my life. No more. So she may have become allergic to any of the things she ate or even 2 of them (one for intestinal distress and one for hives.) Only your allergist can say for sure, and remember, as she ages, they may change. Fun.

Yes. A dermatologist can probably clear up the rash, but an allergist is the one who tests for allergies. It might be a good idea to test for more than one ingredient.