What Is An Egg Allergy?

egg allergy 101

Egg is one of the most common food allergies amongst children, second only to milk. Allergic reactions to egg occurs when the body's immune system mistakes the proteins in egg whites or yolks as harmful and overreacts against them. Symptoms of a reaction can range from as mild as an upset stomach up to as life-threatening as anaphylaxis. The proteins that cause an egg allergy are typically found in the egg whites rather than the yolks, but those with an egg allergy should avoid eggs altogether.

When are egg allergies discovered?

Egg allergies can be diagnosed as early as infancy, depending on when a child is first exposed. Egg allergies are most commonly toward chicken eggs, but some may also be allergic to quail, turkey, duck or goose eggs. Studies show that 70% of children will outgrow their egg allergy by age 16 — but it is possible to carry the allergy into adulthood. For adults, it is more common to be allergic to egg yolks compared to egg whites. 

How to avoid egg

The safest way to prevent an allergic reaction to eggs is to avoid consumption in any amount. Even if you are only allergic to egg whites, there are still traces amounts of the allergen in the yolk and should be avoided. People with egg allergies are usually able to eat chicken without a reaction.

Because eggs are one of the Top 8 allergens, the federal government requires that all packaged food products clearly list them as an ingredient. Learn how to read a food label for egg ingredients before consuming packaged food, and be sure to always check for precautionary “may contain” statements that warn of cross-contamination that potentially occurred during the manufacturing process with shared lines or facilities. Note that manufacturers are not legally required to label for potential cross-contamination.

It is possible for those with egg allergies to tolerate small amounts of egg cooked or baked at high temperatures. This potential desensitization should always be monitored under an allergist's care.

Be aware that several strains of the flu vaccine are manufactured using egg-based technology. The CDC states that allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare, but consult your doctor as the vaccine is subject to change each year. 

Egg can be found in:

  • Bread
  • Breakfast breads such as: French toast, pancakes and waffles
  • Baked goods such as: cookies, brownies and cake
  • Ice cream
  • Meat substitues
  • Pasta
  • Macaroni
  • Marshmallows
  • Pretzels
  • Egg rolls
  • Soups
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Coffee drinks with foam
  • Some root beer with foam
  • Sauces such as: Hollandaise, tartar
  • Breaded, battered and fried food
  • Custard
  • Ice cream

Foods to avoid:

  • Egg
  • Eggnog
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Nougat

Non-food products that could have egg:

  • Shampoos, conditioners or hair masks
  • Face masks
  • Soaps
  • Lotion/moisturizers
  • Flu vaccines — only some are made with egg but are considered safe for kids with egg allergies
  • Yellow Fever vaccine
  • Dog food
  • Animal repellant

Alternative names for egg:

  • Albumen/albumin
  • Conalbumin
  • Fat substitute
  • Livetin
  • Lysozime
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovoglobulin
  • Ovomucin 
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovotransferrin
  • Ovovitelia 
  • Ovovitellin
  • Silici albuminate
  • Surimi
  • Vitellin

Egg substitutes

When baking, eggs act as binders, leavening agents and add moisture — substitute one egg for the following:

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or other fruit puree
  • 1/2 medium banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 T flax seeds + 3 T warm water (wait until seeds are fully absorbed)
  • 2 T water + 1 t oil + 2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 cup oil

Note: Most egg substitutes will contain egg whites — always be sure to read food labels.

Discover more!

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