Products That May Contain Alpha-gal

At a glance

  • Meat from mammals, such as beef, pork, or lamb, can contain high amounts of alpha-gal.
  • This could trigger allergic reactions in people with alpha-gal syndrome (AGS).
  • Some non-food products may also contain alpha-gal.
Tray with multiple cuts of meat

Foods that may contain alpha-gal

AGS can be severe or life-threatening. Seek immediate emergency care if you are having a severe allergic reaction.

The following foods or food ingredients may contain alpha-gal. However, this is not a list of all products or ingredients that may contain alpha-gal.

High amounts of alpha-gal may be found in:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, venison, rabbit, or other meat from mammals
  • Mammal organ meat, such as liver, kidneys, intestines, or sweetbreads
  • Rocky mountain or prairie oysters

Food products that contain milk and milk products may also contain alpha-gal. However, many patients with AGS can tolerate milk products.

Cow's milk is the only alpha-gal containing ingredient classified as a major food allergen. Under the Food Allergen Labeling Requirements of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, food labels must clearly identify the food source names of any ingredients that are one of the major food allergens or contain protein derived from a major food allergen in the ingredient list or a separate "Contains" statement.

Some people with AGS may also be sensitive to alpha-gal found in:

  • Gelatin made from beef or pork
  • Products made or cooked with mammal fat, like lard, tallow, or suet
  • Meat broth, bouillon, stock, and gravy

Note: Not all patients with AGS have reactions to every product containing alpha-gal.

Foods that don't contain alpha-gal

  • Poultry, such as chicken, turkey, duck, or quail
  • Fish and seafood, such as shrimp
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables

Non-food products containing alpha-gal

Some medications and vaccines may contain small amounts of alpha-gal-containing additives, stabilizers, or coatings. However, not all patients with AGS react to these ingredients.

Ingredients that may contain alpha-gal include, but are not limited to:

  • Gelatin
  • Glycerin
  • Magnesium stearate
  • Bovine extract

Lists of additives to specific vaccines (called vaccine excipients) are available through CDC's Pink Book [PDF – 4 pages] and the Institute for Vaccine Safety.

Animal-derived medical products, such as heart valves from pigs or cows, monoclonal antibodies, heparin, and certain antivenoms may contain alpha-gal.

As with any severe allergy, patients with AGS should work with their healthcare providers to make decisions about individual risk and benefit from specific vaccines and medications.