Caroline Shannon-Karasik’s AfterGlo

Are there eggs in that?

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Eggs. No breakfast buffet would seem complete without them, right? But for the person who is allergic to eggs, they also represent a food ingredient that can lead to a reaction ranging anywhere from an unpleasant to a severe allergic response, making a brunch date a possible no-go situation.

And they aren’t just a friend of breakfast foods. Of course, while some of the places eggs hide are easily spotted, such as in baked goods, commercial pastas, mayonnaise and even specialty coffee drinks, others are surprising. Take the flu vaccine, for instance. While life-threatening reactions are rare, the virus used in most vaccines is grown in hens’ eggs, making people who have a severe egg allergy susceptible to a host of symptoms, including wheezing, hives, weakness, rapid heartbeats and dizziness.

“[An] allergy is a life-threatening and an almost always immediate episode after eating that may include rashes, respiratory distress, vomiting and diarrhea,” said Dr. Allen Meadows, fellow and spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “It is caused by a very specific part of the immune system. Allergy tests detect life-threatening food allergy. True food allergy is 100 percent reproducible, meaning that each and every time an offending agent is ingested, it will result in an adverse event which could be very dangerous.”

Although an egg allergy is one of the most common among children, they typically outgrow it by the time they become adults. However, that’s not always the case. Symptoms of an egg allergy can show up anywhere from a few minutes to hours after eggs are ingested. In addition to the symptoms already mentioned, other signs of an egg allergy include nasal inflammation, digestive problems and vomiting.

“When reading food labels, keep an eye out for ingredients like albumin and vitellin, which are egg sources, and be aware that most baked goods, custards, puddings, noodles and pastas contain egg,” said Judi and Shari Zucker, authors of “The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook.” “Egg wash is used to add shine to pretzels, breads and other baked goods, while eggs and egg derivatives may be contained in the foamy toppings of cappuccinos and other coffee drinks.”

Other common names for eggs that you might spot on a label include:

apovitellin

ovalbumin

lysozyme

simplesse

silici albuminate

globulin

Judi and Shari Zucker point out that, as with most allergies and intolerances, the most common source of exposure to egg allergens is when cross-contamination occurs.

“It is crucial to use separate utensils and equipment when preparing allergen-free foods,” Judi Zucker said. “It is also important to verify that the foods are prepared or packaged in a facility in which cross-contamination does not occur. In school cafeterias and buffet-style restaurants, signs should be placed next to foods that may be affected by cross-contamination as a warning.”

The Zucker sisters also recommend that a person with egg allergies keep a small stash of “safe” foods on hand, stowing away emergency snacks in a backpack, bag or purse.

“People with food allergies should also check out local markets and restaurants to discover which places offer food they can eat,” they said. “Places like Trader Joe’s and other specialty grocery stores, along with a growing number of supermarkets, offer a wide variety of allergen-free foods.”

Tech-savvy applications and websites allergyeats.com and CanIEatHere.com are also helpful in assessing a restaurant’s ability to serve a safe meal before sitting down to dinner with family and friends.

I’m curious: Do you have a food allergy? If so, what’s your number one tip for eating safely while dining at a restaurant or friend’s house?

Caroline Shannon-Karasik is the author of The Gluten-Free Revolution and a certified health coach. She is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, sincerelycaroline.com. Her writing and recipe development has been featured in several publications, including, VegNews, Kiwi and REDBOOK magazines. Caroline lives with her husband Dan and four adopted cats in Pittsburgh, Penn. Caroline can be reached at
afterglo@daytoncitypaper.com.

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