Egg allergies most commonly occur in children under the age of five, with the majority of sufferers outgrowing the allergy by the age of 10. A small number of people with an egg allergy will also develop an allergy to poultry.
As a result, a number of people need to adhere to an egg-free diet.
What is an egg allergy?
An allergy to egg is caused by hypersensitivity to the egg proteins, which triggers an allergic reaction. Most commonly, the symptoms of an egg allergy are swelling and itching around the eyes and lips, but can also include nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Severe reactions to eggs are fairly rare, but can cause anaphylaxis and difficulty breathing.
What is an egg-free diet?
It is possible for some people with an egg allergy to eat baked goods which contain egg, due to the baking process causing a change in structure of the proteins. However, this is not always the case, so anyone with a severe allergy is advised to avoid all foods containing egg.
As well as avoiding eggs, there are a number of ingredients which may need to be avoided because they contain egg. This includes: egg white, egg yolk, egg solids and powder, globulin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, livetin, ovoglobulin, ovomucin, ovovitellin, albumin and lecithin (E322).
Egg is also used as a thickener in a wide range of sauces, such as mayonnaise, aioli, béarnaise sauce, tartar sauce, hollandaise sauce and custard. Other foods that tend to include eggs are pastas, breaded foods, burgers, meatballs and soups.
Alternatives to eggs
Tofu can be used as an alternative to eggs in recipes such as scrambled eggs, and is often used in products like vegan mayonnaise. When baking, eggs can be replaced by baking powder, alongside extra oil and water to provide the liquids and fat that need replacing.