The lowdown on: egg allergy
by FoodMaestro | 14 December 2015
Hannah Hunter (Specialist Allergy Dietitian, Guys Hospital) provides the lowdown on ‘egg allergy’.
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies affecting children. It is often outgrown in early childhood but occasionally persists into adulthood. Egg allergy is different from some other types of food allergy in that certain forms of egg (e.g. baked egg) may be tolerated by some individuals.
What is egg allergy?
An allergy to egg involves the immune system and reactions can be either IgE or non-IgE mediated (which you can read about in more detail in our previous post about milk allergy). There are multiple different proteins involved in egg allergy, some of which are altered by cooking. An egg-allergic individual may therefore be able to eat foods containing egg that have been extensively heated, known as baked egg. Some will also tolerate loosely cooked egg whereas none will be able to eat egg considered to be raw. The good news is that most egg allergic children grow out of it by the age of 5 or 6 years. They will usually start to develop tolerance to baked egg, as they outgrow their allergy .Your doctor or dietitian can provide you with more specific information about whether you or your child are able to eat baked egg.
What should be avoided?
Eggs from different species are quite similar and therefore in addition to regular hen’s eggs other types such as duck egg, quail and ostrich generally need to be avoided. Some sources of egg are obvious e.g. omelette, quiche, frittata but eggs can be a hidden ingredient in more foods than you may think. Egg has many useful properties that help with binding, rise, moisture as well as flavour, which is why they are so often used in manufacturing foods. Unexpected sources can include certain types of gluten free bread products, royal icing, chocolate bars and sausages. Dependant on your allergy it may be necessary to avoid all forms of egg or baked and sometimes loosely cooked forms may be tolerated. Ask your Doctor and Dietitian for more information.
Raw egg can be found in food such as mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, royal icing and some sorbets/ ice creams. Egg is considered loosely cooked in foods such as scrambled, and boiled eggs, omelettes, batter, homemade pancakes and meringues . Baked egg is often in foods such as cakes, biscuits, egg pasta, quorn and gluten free breads.
Under EU food labelling laws egg needs to be clearly labelled as an ingredient and emphasised (usually in bold or underlined). You can also use FoodMaestro to tell you which foods are suitable by setting up your personal food profile to avoid either all forms of egg including those that may contain egg or simply exclude foods with egg as an ingredient:
As FoodMaestro continues to develop, the aim is to provide more specific information about whether egg in a food product would be considered to be baked egg or equivalent but this is not yet possible.
Where can I get more information?
If you suspect that you or your child has egg allergy, then speak to your GP, Dietitian or hospital Consultant for individual advice.
Other useful websites: