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 a priority allergen by Health Canada, along with milk, mustard, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, sesame seeds, sulfites, soy and wheat.
Egg yolks and whites are considered allergens, but these parts of eggs often go by less familiar names in ingredients lists, making them difficult to recognize. Just a few of the several other names for eggs are albumin, livetin, conalbumin, ovomucoid, apovitellin or silica albuminate.
Many pre-made foods often contain hidden allergens like eggs. Here are our seven foods we bet you didn’t know contain eggs:
- Imitation meats — These could be vegan meats, made with plant proteins, that mimic the flavour, texture and appearance of animal meats. Many of these contain eggs.
- Pasta — People tend to think of pasta as a wheat or grain product, but fresh pasta is made using a dough consisting of eggs and flour. Dry pasta, such as packaged egg noodles, also contains egg.
- Salad dressings — Some salad dressings or creamy dressings may contain eggs, so you should have appropriate warnings and disclaimers for customers and staff.
- Sauces — A wide range of sauces used for many purposes, e.g. Béarnaise, Hollandaise, Newburg or tartare, contain traces of egg.
- Fat replacers — Products used to replace fats in low-calorie foods may contain eggs or traces of egg.
- 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.
- 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 are often used as a binding agent in these products.
These foods are only some of those containing hidden eggs — it’s your responsibility to be aware of products that have eggs in order to make sure customers with allergies are never put at risk.
If you are working with food, avoid allergy incidents by reading all labels and ingredients 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 ingredients list.
The Canadian Institute of Food Safety (CIFS) has an extensive Resources Library with downloadable content about a range of food safety issues, 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.