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Egg Allergy Avoidance

The Asthma Center, Allergic Disease Associates, P.C.
Professional Arts Building
205 North Broad Street, Ste 300
Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-569-1111
http://www.asthmacenter.com/

Individuals with egg-sensitivity require that all egg proteins and egg yolk be removed from their diets. Because eggs are not usually a primary source of any one nutrient in the United States, egg-restricted diets usually do not present a significant nutritional risk. However, nutritional analysis may be reviewed with a registered dietician or through a computer software nutritional analysis program provided by the federal government, available online through the Food and Nutrition Information Center. http://www.nalusda.gov/fnic

Hidden Sources of Egg Allergen
Hidden sources of eggs are often found at bakeries and restaurants. Eggs are often used in baked goods to give a shiny coating. Eggs may also form the custard-base of yogurts and ice cream or as a clarifying agent in soups and coffees. Eggs are used as batters for fried food as well as binders in meatloaf and meatballs. Eggs can also be used to provide texture in imitation seafood products (surimi). Egg albumin is used in certain products to provide structure to whipped fruit products such as in desserts and in drinks. Other hidden sources of eggs may include marshmallows, marzipan, noodles, some candies, and unlabelled natural flavoring. In restaurant situations, eggs are often fried on the same grill as other foods where the potential of cross-contamination can occur. The possibility of allergic reaction to eggs through kissing has also been reported and is usually not thought of by people with egg allergies. Teenagers and young adults may be particularly at risk during dating to this hidden contact source. Individuals of any age, though, should be aware of this vulnerability. Pet food may also contain protein from eggs. For children and adults extremely sensitive to eggs, even trace amounts of egg exposure from animal saliva may cause a reaction.

Cooking Substitutes for Egg Allergen
Individuals may purchase commercial egg replacers or make their own for use in recipes (Ener-G foods, Seattle, WA has a commercially available product that may be used). Individuals should be aware that not all egg-substitutes are egg-free and should read all food labels carefully. For instance, Egg Beaters is an egg-substitute that is devoid of egg yolk but does contain egg whites.

Ingredient Terms that Indicate the Presence of Eggs
The following is a partial list of terms commonly used on food labels to indicate the presence of eggs. This list should be distributed to any caregiver, relative, or food service workers who will be providing food to the egg allergic individual. Individuals on egg-restricted diets should avoid all foods with these ingredients:

  • Albumin
  • Egg (white, yolk, dried, powdered, solids)
  • Egg Substitutes
  • Eggnog
  • Globulin
  • Lecithin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme (used in Europe)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Ovalbumin
  • Ovomucin
  • Ovomucoid
  • Ovovitellin
  • Simplesse (The Nutra Sweet Company)

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Information regarding egg-free diets, recipes and cooking tips is available through the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), a non-profit lay organization based in Fairfax, Virginia. FAAN also provides a convenient, laminated wallet-sized chart that delineates how to read a food label for an egg-free diet. Their phone number is 1-800-929-4040, and their website is http://www.foodallergy.org

What Consumers Can do to Help Identify Allergens
If a consumer finds that a product causes a reaction, besides discussing it with your physician at the Asthma Center, please notify the manufacturer and notify the local FDA consumer complaint coordinator (The following provides a list of phone numbers in the US) http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html

In addition, consumers should continue to provide input about concerns and suggestions for allergen labeling issues by emailing comments to fdadockets@oc.fda.gov and noting Docket OOP-1322.

Printed with permission from The Asthma Center, copyright 2008