Allergic to Eggs? Avoid These Hidden Sources
From pretzels to frosting to shampoo, eggs lurk in some unexpected places
If you’re allergic to eggs, the solution is simple: Avoid them.
Easier said than done, since eggs show up in some surprising places. And if you accidentally consume an egg, the yoke’s on you.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin rashes and redness, hives, wheezing, fast heartbeat, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, along with other digestive problems. If you have a severe egg allergy, you probably know that exposure to egg protein may cause the life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis, which puts a person into shock and requires a trip to the emergency room.
Your symptoms may develop within minutes of consuming eggs or several hours later. Prevention is the best treatment.
Related: How to Tell If an Egg Is Bad
Hidden sources of eggs
The Food and Drug Administration requires nutrient labels for most foods in the United States, and those labels have to tell you if the food contains eggs.
According to Mayo Clinic and the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), here are some common foods and ingredients that may contain egg:
- Artificial and natural flavorings
- Baked goods
- Canned soup
- Coffee drink foam
- Egg substitutes
- Ice cream
- Processed meats
- Salad dressing
Don’t play chicken with these terms
Labels of supplements unregulated by the FDA don’t have to list “egg” as an ingredient. If these supplements list any of the following ingredients that the Mayo Clinic advises people with egg allergies to watch out for, however, they contain eggs:
- Words that begin with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin
Tips for the egg allergic
Now that you’re a pro at label reading, take further steps to avoid an egg-streme reaction.
Pass on the yolk. Although egg whites contain most of the proteins that trigger an allergic reaction, there’s no way to separate all the yolk from the whites.
Avoid all eggs. That includes eggs from chickens, ducks, quail and any other bird.
Talk to the waiter. Let him know you have an egg allergy and inquire whether the dish you want contains eggs or egg substitutes. Be aware, however, that waiters and even kitchen personnel are not always sure about the ingredients. If you can’t confirm that the salad dressing doesn’t contain eggs, skip it.
Wear an allergy alert bracelet. This will help paramedics in case you lose consciousness when you have an allergy attack.
Check cosmetics and other non-food items, too. A number of consumer products may also contain eggs. These include finger paints, some shampoos and medicines and make-up.
Talk with your allergist about baked goods. People with mild egg allergies may be able to consume some baked goods, such as cake, that contain egg proteins cooked at high temperatures.
Carry an epinephrine autoinjector at all times if your doctor prescribed one. Use it at the first sign of an allergic reaction or as instructed.
Tell your friends and family to call an ambulance if you ever have an allergic reaction after eating something with egg in it. Even if you inject yourself with epinephrine, symptoms can reappear later, so it’s important to get medical help right away.
Check with your allergist about which vaccines are safe for you. Some flu shots contain small amounts of egg protein, and no one with an egg allergy should get the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But contrary to popular belief, you may be able to get a flu shot if you have an egg allergy that isn’t severe, according to the ACAAI. You should get it only in a doctor’s office or a clinic prepared to treat you for an allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis — not a drugstore or supermarket. One type of flu shot, the recombinant vaccine, has no egg protein and is approved for use in people ages 18 to 49, according to ACAAI.
You should also avoid getting a malaria (yellow fever) vaccine, which contains egg protein, according to the ACAAI. If the vaccine is required for travel, get a note from your doctor explaining why you can’t have it.