Useful facts on egg allergy (eggallergi)
Useful information concerning egg allergy – NAAF’s fact sheet
What is egg allergy?
Egg allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to individual proteins in eggs. Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in small children. Some individuals experience very serious reactions, even from minute quantities of egg; others suffer milder discomfort, or do not experience a reaction until the quantity increases. Some individuals also react to coming into contact with eggs or egg vapour. Egg allergy is more common among children than in adults. Most people grow out of an egg allergy in childhood; however, some will continue to be allergic as adults.
What reactions does egg cause in individuals with egg allergy?
The kinds of reactions will vary from person to person. Normal reactions include diarrhoea, stomach pain, urticaria, exacerbation of eczema, breathing problems/asthma or allergic shock.
What do individuals with egg allergy react to?
The reaction is a response to proteins in the egg. These are found both in the white and the yolk. Some individuals have a more pronounced reaction to egg protein when the eggs are raw (not heated). Some people also experience a reaction from the vapour from frying and boiling and can react with asthma and/or allergic running eyes/nose. Occasionally, simply the odour of cooked waffles (egg and the milk allergen in vapour form) may be enough to trigger an allergic reaction.
How is egg allergy treated?
Food allergy is treated by excluding the non-tolerated foodstuff from the diet.
Which foodstuffs contain egg?
Egg in food may be labelled as egg white, egg yolk or egg powder. Occasionally terms such as ‘ovalbumin’ or ‘lysozyme of egg’ are used.
Foodstuffs that often contain egg include cakes, glazes, biscuits, ice cream, dressings, remoulade, mayonnaise, mayonnaise salads, mustard, fresh pasta, waffles, pancakes, snowballs, confectionery, breaded dishes and gratins.
It is important to read the ingredients list carefully before eating any foodstuffs. According to the labelling regulations, all products containing egg shall be clearly labelled as such in the declaration of contents. This also applies to unpackaged food, i.e. food that is sold without packaging in shops, restaurants, cafés and similar.
Some foodstuffs are labelled ”may contain traces of egg”. This does not mean that egg is added to the foodstuff, but that during production, traces of egg may have been included in the product. Most people with egg allergy can tolerate eating products with trace labelling.
What can an individual with egg allergy eat?
Egg is a nutrient-rich foodstuff; however, it is not necessary for a healthy diet. Egg allergy is primarily a practical challenge, as it limits the choice of cakes, biscuits, pre-prepared food etc. Egg has qualities that are important for good results when baking, it ensures good binding and raising.
Egg replacements such as No Egg and Egg Replacer are available in stores. These have the same binding and baking properties as egg, but they do not have the same nutritional content. The egg replacement should be added to water and whisked before use. Increasing the amount of baking powder or baking soda may often be a better and cheaper alternative. 1 egg can be substituted with 1 tablespoon of baking powder. By adding 1-2 tablespoons of corn flour, the same yellow colour can be achieved as with ordinary egg.
Most yeast-based baked goods, jellies, chocolate sauce, ice lollies, sorbets, fruit and berries are naturally egg-free and are excellent as a dessert or at parties.
Some vaccines, such as MMR, are cultivated using chicken embryos. This type of vaccine dies not normally induce a reaction in those allergic to egg. Influenza vaccines are cultivated in such a way that they contain measurable quantities of egg protein; however, in the vast majority of cases in such small amounts that this does not involve any risk to those with egg allergy. Vaccines in this category can be given at health clinics with a doctor present. In a case of previous anaphylaxis caused by egg, or current uncontrolled serious asthma, the vaccine should be given at a hospital.