Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, second only to milk allergy. Symptoms of an egg allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. Therefore, it is advised the people with egg allergy have quick access to an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen®, Auvi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times. To prevent a reaction, strict avoidance of egg and egg products is essential. Always read ingredient labels to identify egg ingredients. Most children eventually outgrow an allergy to egg.
While the whites of an egg contain the allergenic proteins, patients with an egg allergy must avoid all eggs completely. This is because it is impossible to separate the egg white completely from the yolk, causing a cross-contact issue.
Egg Allergy and Vaccines
Some vaccines contain egg protein. The recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledge that the MMR vaccine (measles-mumps-rubella) can be safely administered to all patients with egg allergy. These recommendations have been based, in part, on scientific evidence that supports the routine use of one-dose administration of the MMR vaccine to patients with an egg allergy. This includes those patients with a history of severe, generalized anaphylactic reactions to egg.
Influenza vaccines usually contain a small amount of egg protein. If you or your child is allergic to eggs, speak to your doctor before receiving a flu shot.
The federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that all packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contains egg as an ingredient must list the word “Egg” on the label.
Read all product labels carefully before purchasing and consuming any item. Ingredients in packaged food product may change without warning, so check ingredient statements carefully every time you shop. If you have questions, call the manufacturer.
As of this time, the use of advisory labels (such as “May Contain”) on packaged foods is voluntary, and there are no guidelines for their use. However, the FDA has begun to develop a long-term strategy to help manufacturers use these statements in a clear and consistent manner, so that consumers with food allergies and their caregivers can be informed as to the potential presence of the eight major allergens.
Avoid foods that contain eggs or any of these ingredients:
- Albumin (also spelled albumen)
- Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk)
- Meringue (meringue powder)
Eggs are sometimes found in the following:
- Baked goods
- Egg substitutes
Some Unexpected Sources of Egg*
- Eggs have been used to create the foam or topping on specialty coffee drinks and are used in some bar drinks.
- Some commercial brands of egg substitutes contain egg whites.
- Most commercially processed cooked pastas (including those used in prepared foods such as soup) contain egg or are processed on equipment shared with egg-containing pastas. Boxed, dry pastas are usually egg-free, but may be processed on equipment that is also used for egg-containing products. Fresh pasta is sometimes egg-free, too. Read the label or ask about ingredients before eating pasta.
- Egg wash is sometimes used on pretzels before they are dipped in salt.
*Note: This list highlights examples of where eggs have been unexpectedly found (e.g., on a food label for a specific product, in a restaurant meal, in creative cookery). This list does not imply that eggs are always present in these foods; it is intended to serve as a reminder to always read the label and ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you have not prepared yourself.
Keep the following in mind:
- Individuals with egg allergy should also avoid eggs from duck, turkey, goose, quail, etc., as these are known to be cross-reactive with chicken egg.
Download our PDF on how to read a label for an egg-free diet.