Food allergies affect an estimated 10% of the world’s population, and incidence continues to rise year after year. Anyone who owns or works in a food business must take care to avoid serving food containing common allergens to customers with allergies.
Eggs are one of the most common allergens around the world, and are considered one of 11 priority allergens by Health Canada. Like so many allergens, they can often go by other names or be found in foods considered unlikely to contain them. Egg yolks and whites are both considered allergens, and both often go by less familiar names in ingredient lists, making them difficult to recognize. Other names for eggs include albumin, livetin, conalbumin, ovomucoid, apovitellin or silica albuminate, among many more.
Many premade foods and recipe components contain eggs. Here are seven foods that Food Handlers may be surprised to learn contain eggs:
- Pasta — People tend to think of pasta as a wheat or grain product, but fresh pastas are made using a dough consisting of eggs and flour. Dry pasta, such as packaged egg noodles, often also contains egg.
- Sauces — A wide range of sauces used for many purposes, e.g. Béarnaise, Hollandaise, Newburg or tartare, contain egg.
- Imitation meats — Many plant-based meats, made with plant proteins that mimic the flavour, texture and appearance of animal meats, contain eggs as a binding agent.
- Alcoholic beverages – Many cocktails, including the whisky sour, gin fizz and some martinis, use egg white as a key ingredient. Bartenders must be effectively trained, and just as diligent as Food Handlers in knowing ingredients and communicating with customers who have allergies.
- Desserts — Desserts such as custards, meringues, puddings, ice creams and marzipan may all contain eggs. Be especially careful with pre-packaged desserts that frequently list eggs under other names.
- Fat replacers — Products used to replace fats in low-calorie foods may contain eggs or traces of egg.
- Surimi/kamaboko — Surimi is a paste made from fish, typically found in imitation crab meat. Kamaboko, a type of cured surimi, is used in some East Asian dishes like Japanese udon soup. Egg is often used as a binding agent in these products.
These are just some examples of foods containing hidden eggs, but there are many more. It’s a Food Handler’s responsibility to be aware of products that have eggs, in order to make sure customers with allergies are never put at risk.
When working with food, avoid allergy incidents by reading all labels and ingredient lists, and making sure all staff can identify products that have eggs or traces of eggs. Food Handlers should avoid using foods that do not come with a detailed ingredient list.
Allergen Management Training is an important and effective way to ensure you’re prepared to work with foods containing allergens. CIFS Allergen Management Training covers the most common allergens, the difference between food allergies and intolerances, how to manage food allergens in a business and how to prevent allergy incidents and deal with them if they occur.
For more resources on allergens and allergen management, visit our extensive Resource Library, which includes downloadable content, including a guide to identifying egg allergens. It details everything you need to know about protecting people from one of the most common food allergens.