FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 03, 2008

Science for Kids: An egg-straordinary discovery to help kids with egg allergy

Have you ever heard someone say they have an allergy to eggs? Thousands of children and adults cannot eat that egg-straordinary food. Eggs themselves are not bad. When a person is allergic to eggs, their body’s immune system overreacts to harmless proteins in the eggs.

The body mistakes those proteins for harmful invaders. It responds in a way that releases substances that cause egg allergy symptoms. The symptoms include itchy bumps on the skin and trouble breathing. People with egg allergy also may get a headache, a stomach ache, and — yucko! — a feeling that they may throw up!

Chemists in Germany and Switzerland now are reporting some good news for the egg-allergic. Angelika Paschke and colleagues have made eggs that are 100 times less allergic than raw eggs. They did it by exposing uncooked eggs to enzymes that break down the proteins and heated them to reduce the substances that cause allergy symptoms.

Their process really is something to crow about. It works on the eggs that are cracked and shipped to food companies to be mixed into dozens of foods. People with egg allergy must do more than avoid scrambled eggs and fried eggs for breakfast. They must not eat packaged foods that contain egg. Avoiding that hidden egg can be difficult, even after reading package labels.

So this new chemical discovery may make life easier — and safer — for the egg-allergic.

This fragrant study appeared in ACS’ Chemical Reviews, a monthly scientific journal.

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— John Simpson