Egg Allergy and Baked Egg Products

Can You Eat Eggs in Baked Goods if You are Allergic to Eggs?

cracked egg in baking batter
Can you eat baked egg products if you have an egg allergy?. Istockphoto.com/Stock Photo©ehrlif

Is it possible to be allergic to eggs but be able to eat baked goods containing eggs? If you're allergic to eggs now, is there a way to desensitize yourself to them (like allergy shots) or could you outgrow your allergy?

Can You Eat Baked Eggs if You Have an Egg Allergy?

The short answer to the question about whether you can eat baked eggs if you have an egg allergy is maybe. Maybe. Allergists have known for years that people with even severe allergic reactions to eggs were often able to eat eggs in baked goods such as cakes and muffins.The reason for this wasn't clear until fairly recently.

We’ve also known that people with food allergies to the raw foods (such as allergy to fresh fruits) were often able to eat those foods when they were cooked or processed. However, most people don’t go around eating raw eggs, and most egg-allergic people would still have allergic reactions even with a thoroughly cooked scrambled egg.

Let's talk about what the research has taught us, and what this may mean for you as you cope with an egg allergy.

What is an Egg Allergy?

An egg allergy is an IgE mediated allergy. IgE is a natural substance (an antibody) which binds to antigens (such as egg proteins) and stimulates the immune system. The degree to which your body recognizes these egg proteins as abnormal and mounts an immune response corresponds to the intensity of the allergic reaction which follows. Egg allergy is most common in children, yet most children outgrow the allergy by adolescence.

Currently the "gold standard" - the definitive way in which you can know if you have an egg allergy is either through trial and error (you eat an egg and have a reaction) or through an oral food challenge.

Current treatment includes avoidance of eggs, taking anaphylaxis precautions (knowing what to do if it appears you are having an anaphylactic reaction) and desensitization. Of course there is also the question of vaccines in people allergic to eggs.Thankfully, most people become tolerant to eggs over time.

Research on Egg Allergy and Foods Containing Baked Eggs - Temperature Matters

A 2008 study assessed the ability of people with a known allergy to egg to eat foods containing extensively heated egg, such as in waffles and muffins. The study showed that the majority of egg-allergic people (70 percent) were able to consume foods containing extensively heated egg, but not egg that was cooked in a “regular” manner, such as in scrambled eggs or French toast. It appears that the higher temperatures achieved for these baked goods destroyed the egg proteins enough that the allergic antibodies were not able to recognize them.

Interestingly, the egg-allergic people who tolerated extensively heated eggs showed that their skin test size to egg became smaller as they ate more baked goods containing eggs. There were also other signs on blood tests that suggested these people had begun to resolve their egg allergy to all types of egg products.

Further studies since that time have confirmed that, for some people anyway, eating baked egg products can actually work to desensitize them to eggs.

How Can You Know if You Will Tolerate Baked Eggs with an Egg Allergy?

Sadly, there isn't really a good method to determine whether you are one of the majority of people with egg allergy who will tolerate baked egg products or not, and skin tests are not a reliable way to figure out the answer. Therefore, most people practice avoidance, or carefully, and with help of their allergist, do an oral food challenge (see below under bottom line.)

Protocols to Desensitize Allergy to Eggs

Since it was discovered that eating baked egg products can actually desensitize some people to eggs there has been more interest in looking at this as a method of desensitization, with similar encouraging results. If you are considering this, talk to your allergist about the latest recommendations and if this is something she would consider for you. Researchers are also evaluating using oral immunotherapy for egg allergy similar to allergy injections for other allergies, and this may play a role in the future.

Can You Test for Allergy to Baked Eggs?

Unfortunately, it appears that skin testing cannot predict whether someone will or will not have a reaction to baked egg products. In other words, the only way you can know if you will have an allergy to baked egg products is if you have had an allergy, both initially, at the time when the allergy was discovered, or as part of a desensitization plan.

Bottom Line on Eating Foods with Baked Eggs with an Egg Allergy

If you are allergic to eggs, it is extremely important that you do not attempt to eat any food that may contain eggs without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor, preferably an allergist, should perform an oral food challenge under close medical supervision prior to allowing you to eat any food containing eggs at home. You may also wish to talk to her about options for desensitization as well.

In the meantime, check out these 7 nutrients you may be missing with an egg allergy including options for other foods which provide these nutrients.

Outgrowing Food Allergies - What Can You Expect?

If you are frustrated with your child's egg allergy, earn more about outgrowing food allergies.

Sources:

Lemon-Mule, J., Sampson, J., Sicherer, S., Shreffler, W., Noone, S., and A. Nowak-Wegrzyn. Immunologic Changes in Children with Egg Allergy Ingesting Extensively Heated Egg. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2008. 122(5):977-983.e1.

Leonard, S., Sampson, H., Sicherer, S., Noone, S., Moshier, E., Gobol, J., an A. Nowak-Wegrzyn. Dietary Baked Egg Accelerates Resolution of Egg Allergy in Children. Journal of Allergy and Immunology. 2012. 130(2):473-80.e1.

Tey, D., and R. Heine. Egg Allergy in Childhood: An Update. Current Opinions in Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2009. 9(3):244-50.

Turner, P., Kumar, K., and A. Fox. Skin Testing with Raw Egg Does Not Predict Tolerance to Baked Egg in Egg-Allergic Children. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. 2014. 25(7):657-61.

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