- Eggs have two allergenic parts, the yolk and the white.
- Eggs are considered a priority food allergen by Health Canada.
- Many children with an egg allergy may outgrow the allergy within a few years. For others, an egg allergy can be a lifelong condition. If your child has an egg allergy, consult your allergist before reintroducing your child to egg products.
- The proteins in eggs from chickens are similar to those found in eggs from ducks, geese, quails and other birds or fowl. Therefore, people who are allergic to eggs from chickens may also experience reactions to the eggs from other animals.
- Some people with egg allergy can consume extensively heated/baked products that contain egg (i.e., with the product completely cooked throughout). If you have an egg allergy, please consult with your allergist before consuming any baked products containing egg.
Allergic reactions to eggs
An allergic reaction usually happens within minutes after being exposed to an allergen, but sometimes it can take place several hours after exposure. Anaphylaxis is the most serious type of allergic reaction.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis generally include two or more of the following body systems:
- Skin: hives, swelling (face, lips, tongue), itching, warmth, redness
- Respiratory (breathing): coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing
- Gastrointestinal (stomach): nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
- Cardiovascular (heart): paler than normal skin colour/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizziness or lightheadedness, shock
- Other: anxiety, sense of doom (the feeling that something bad is about to happen), headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste
However, a drop in blood pressure without other symptoms may also indicate anaphylaxis. It is important to know that anaphylaxis can occur without hives.
If you have an egg allergy, keep an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g., EpiPen®) with you at all times. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
Be allergy-aware: How to avoid eggs
- Read ingredient labels every time you buy or eat a product. If the label indicates that a product “Contains” or “may contain” egg, do not eat it. If you do not recognize an ingredient, if there is no ingredient list available, or if you don’t understand the language written on the packaging, avoid the product.
- Do the Triple Check and read the label:
- Once at the store before buying it.
- Once when you get home and put it away.
- Again before you serve or eat the product.
- Always carry your epinephrine auto-injector. It’s recommend that if you do not have your auto-injector with you, that you do not eat.
- Check with manufacturers directly if you are not sure if a product is safe for you.
- Be careful when buying products from abroad, since labelling rules differ from country to country.
- Watch for cross-contamination, which is when a small amount of a food allergen (e.g., egg) gets into another food accidentally, or when it’s present in saliva, on a surface, or on an object. This small amount of an allergen could cause an allergic reaction.
Other names for eggs
- Egg substitutes such as Egg BeatersTM
- Ovolactohydrolyze proteins
- Ovomucin, ovomucoid
- Simplesse® (fat replacer)
Possible sources of eggs
- Alcoholic cocktails/drinks
- Baby food
- Baked goods and baking mixes
- Battered/fried foods
- Candy, chocolate
- Cream-filled pies
- Creamy dressings, salad dressings, spreads
- Egg/fat substitutes
- Fish mixtures
- Foam milk topping on coffee
- Homemade root beer, malt drink mixes
- Icing, glazes such as egg washes
- Meat mixtures (e.g. hamburgers, hot dogs, meatballs, meatloaf)
- Quiche, soufflé
- Sauces such as Béarnaise, Hollandaise, Newburg
- Soups, broths, bouillons
Non-food sources of eggs
- Anaesthetic such as Diprivan®
- Certain vaccines
- Craft materials, including some paints
- Hair care products
Note: These lists are not complete and may change.