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Egg Allergies: Spotting Problems on Food Labels

With a food allergy, it’s always important for you to know what you’re eating. Reading labels is your best way to stay safe. Here are some tips and tricks to make it work for you.

Any packaged food has to show on the label if it contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. Look on the food label -- "Contains: Eggs" -- or the ingredients list.

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Egg: Words to Watch For

If you're allergic to eggs and you see one of these names in the ingredient list, don't buy it.

  • Albumin (or albumen)
  • Eggs (all types)
  • Eggnog
  • Fat substitutes
  • Lecithin
  • Lysozyme
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meringue
  • Ovalbumin
  • Surimi
  • Vitellin

 

Where Eggs Hide

  • Noodles and pasta may have egg in them.
  • Meatballs and meatloaf often have egg.
  • Bagels, pretzels, and other baked goods get their shiny appearance from egg white.
  • Watch out for eggs in foods like breakfast cereals, ice cream, and even egg substitutes.

How to Choose Safe Foods

  • Stick with packaged and labeled foods. Foods from salad bars, deli counters, and bakeries are more likely to accidentally have your allergy triggers in them.
  • Read food labels every time you buy a product -- even if it's something you buy every week. Food manufacturers change ingredients all the time. A food that has been safe for you and your family may not always be OK.
  • If you see an ingredient you're not sure about, be careful. Look it up first. Contact the manufacturer if you need more info.
  • Buying a different size or low-fat version? Read the label. Low-fat or reduced-calorie versions of familiar foods may have very different ingredients. Sizing (like snack-sized packs) or packaging (a can instead of a carton) can affect ingredients. Some products may have different ingredients in different parts of the country.
  • Check labels on medications and toiletries. Food allergens can show up in drugs, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and lotions.
  • Do ask and tell. At restaurants, let the staff, servers, managers, cooks, or chef know about your food allergy and special accommodations that you might need. Don’t be shy about asking how a dish is prepared. Sometimes it can be hard to tell everything that is in a dish based on how it is listed on the menu.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on October 26, 2012

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