• Jim Hinds

Allergic to Burns night?

25th January sees Burns night, an important day in the Scottish calendar and a great excuse for anybody to celebrate the famous Scottish bard and enjoy your first evening out of the New Year. Haggis awaits! For the allergic person this is less risky than the allergic minefields of Christmas and New Year.

Typical ingredients (but always check as anything is possible):

Sheep stomach, lamb heart and lungs.



Spices (usually coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg)

Neaps (turnips or swedes)

Tatties (potatoes)

'Wheat allergy' I note is found in the allergies section from most suppliers. But where is the wheat? Answer- oatmeal can be 'contaminated' with wheat and other grains for some strange reason. So if you have a wheat allergy you should avoid this. If you have a gluten intolerance(coeliac disease) you may be OK but some people with coeliac disease do not tolerate oats even if truly pure oats.

Onions, turnips/swedes, potatoes allergy is relatively common. Most people who are allergic to vegetables have hay fever and experience mild tingling in their mouths and can usually tolerate the food when cooked ( oral allergy syndrome).

Meat allergy is rare which is disappointing for animals! Beef allergy is most common. People are usually allergic to the meat protein ( and I expect this to be present in offal) but there is a strange delayed reaction to the carbohydrate in red meat which can occur up to 4 hours later ( alpha-gal allergy). That said I would be suspicious of overindulgence if you complained of bloating and nausea!

Spice allergy is a mixed bag of reactions. Note cinnamon can cause burning skin and pepper can make you cough but you may not be allergic. It occurs more often in people allergic to celery and airborne mugwort weed. Severe reactions to coriander have been reported but the reactions usually are confined to the mouth. If you have eaten curries regularly then you have probably consumed coriander regularly.

And nutmeg is not a nut.....

Some hae meat and canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat

Sae let the Lord be thankit.

(Robert Burns)


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