What is an egg allergy?
An egg allergy occurs when the body reacts to one or more of the proteins in eggs.
Most allergic reactions occur in response to ovalbumin and ovomucoid, the proteins in egg whites. Sometimes, the proteins in egg yolks can also cause an allergic reaction.
Eggs are one of the most common foods that cause an allergic reaction. For those with an egg allergy, any food made with eggs can be dangerous. People with an egg allergy can still enjoy a wide range of foods every day, but they must learn how to eat safely.
Will my child always have an egg allergy?
Many children with an egg allergy outgrow it by school age, but this does not always happen.
An allergist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies) can help you find out when to test your child. Consult them regularly to check if there have been any changes to your child's food allergy.
Other names for eggs
Eggs or egg products can have many names in ingredient lists. Learning these names can help you catch any hidden sources of egg in food.
When buying packaged foods, always check the list of ingredients in the store and again when you bring the product home. It is also a good idea to check the ingredients every time you buy the food in case the recipe has changed. You can also call the manufacturer to ask about any recipe changes.
The following table lists some names for eggs. Use it when you are grocery shopping or calling food manufacturers.
|Albumin or albumen
||Ovomucin or ovomucoid
Possible sources of egg
Eggs are used in a range of packaged foods and in some drinks. Below is a list of some of the many food products that contain eggs.
|Alcoholic cocktails or drinks (such as sweet Marsala), eggnog, foam or milk topping on coffee
|Baked goods, baking mixes, candy, chocolate or nougat
||Battered or fried foods|
|Creamy dressings, salad dressings or spreads such as mayonnaise
||Desserts such as custard, dessert mixes, ice cream or pudding|
|Egg substitutes, such as Egg Beaters®
||Fat substitutes, such as Simplesse®|
|Icing, glazes (such as egg wash on baked goods)
|Meat mixtures such as hamburger, hot dogs, meatballs, meatloaf or salami
||Pancakes, waffles or French toast|
|Pasta, such as egg noodles
||Quiche or souffle|
|Sauces such as béarnaise, hollandaise or newburg
Reducing the risk of cross-contamination
Cross-contamination occurs when a harmless substance comes in contact with a harmful substance, for example a potential allergen or harmful bacteria. If the substances mix together, the harmful substance taints the other substance, making it unsafe to eat.
Food allergens can contaminate other foods when, for example, the same containers, utensils or frying pans hold a range of foods.
Bulk food containers pose a high risk of cross-contamination because they are often used for different products.
Be sure to avoid using utensils or containers that may have come in contact with allergy-causing foods and ask about possible cross-contamination when eating out.
How can my child get the right mix of nutrients if they must avoid eggs?
The main nutrients in eggs include protein, folate, vitamin B12, zinc and iron. Your child can still get these nutrients even if they must avoid eggs and products that contain them.
Nutrients in eggs that are found in other foods
||Meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk, soy|
||Leafy green vegetables, beans (navy, pinto, kidney, garbanzo), lentils |
||Meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, milk, cheese, fortified cereal, soy milk|
||Meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, vegetables|
||Meat, shrimp, poultry, beans (navy, pinto, kidney, garbanzo), whole wheat products, leafy green vegetables|
When to see a dietitian for an egg allergy
If you have removed many foods from your child's diet because of an egg allergy, it may be a good idea to speak to a registered dietitian. The dietitian can review the foods your child still eats to decide if they are getting enough nutrients. If necessary, they can also recommend alternative foods that your child can eat safely.
Baking without eggs
It is possible to make your favourite recipes with commercial or homemade egg substitutes. These substitutes tend to work best in recipes that use about one or two eggs. Feel free to adjust the following substitutions.
|Apricots and water|
|Soak 227 g apricots in 500 mL (2 cups) water overnight. Beat in blender. Store in refrigerator.
15 mL = 1 egg
|Sweet breads, rolls
||Adds flavour to product|
|Baking powder and sour cream|
|2 mL baking powder and 125 mL sour cream = 1 egg
||Cookies, spice cakes, chocolate cakes
||Not appropriate in other products.|
|5 mL baking soda + 5 mL vinegar = 1 egg
||Cookies, white cakes, loaves
||Limit use to recipes calling for one egg.|
|15 mL = 1 egg
||Acts as a thickener.|
|Ground flax seeds and water|
|Mix 1/3 cup ground flax seed in 1 cup water. Bring mixture to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes. Refrigerate. 15 mL of the mixture = 1 egg
||White cakes (where milk is the liquid used), pancakes, muffins, cookies
||Clear and tasteless. Products are moist and have good texture. If recipe needs two or three eggs, this replacement will make product too moist. Not for use with angel food cakes.|
|Flour, baking powder, and shortening|
|50 mL flour + 5 mL baking powder + 15 mL shortening = 1 egg
||Not appropriate in shortcakes.|
|Half an average size = 1 egg
||Cakes, muffins, quick breads
||Adds flavour to product. Product may be gummy.|
|15 mL = 1 egg
||Products will stale quickly, use within four days. Freeze until used.|
- Many children with an egg allergy outgrow it by school age. Consult an allergist regularly to see if there is any change in your child's allergy.
- Eggs have a number of names, including albumen, lysozyme and ingredients starting with "ova". Many products contain eggs, including baby food, baked goods, sauces, fat substitutes and some pastas.
- To prevent an allergic reaction, always read food product labels, avoid foods if you are not sure of the ingredients and avoid using utensils or containers that might have come in contact with eggs.
- If your child's diet is limited because of an egg allergy, a registered dietitian can offer advice on getting a balanced diet.