New study: Understanding egg allergens
A review, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food
Chemistry, looks at recent advances in understanding egg allergens and how
to develop hypoallergenic egg products.
Egg-derived components are widely used in the food industry, particularly in
processed foods where they are often used as emulsifiers or gelling agents.
However, egg allergy has an estimated prevalence of between 1.6 per cent and 3.2
per cent making it the second most common cause of food hypersensitivity in
children. In some industrialised countries, it is thought to be the most
prevalent food allergy among children. The cause of the problem, like most other
food allergies, is protein, present mainly in the egg white. The main culprits
include ovalbumin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin and
Hypoallergenic egg products
A number of studies have
looked at using food processing methods to reduce egg allergenicity without
compromising the functionality of the product. One process is thermal
processing, which is normally carried out to enhance texture and flavours or to
guarantee microbiological safety.
Other processes explored by researchers
include radiation technology and novel food processing methods, such as high
pressure and pulsed electric field.
Detecting egg allergens
review said analytic methods for the detection of egg and other food allergens
should provide specific, sensitive, and rapid analyses. Methods include
diffusion-in-gel techniques, antibody-based methods, electrophoretic and
blotting methods, and the use of polymerase chain
Research has led to an
increasing understanding of the relationship between intestinal microflora and
immune disorders, and probiotic bacteria have been found to provide
The advantages of using prebiotics in parallel
with probiotics have also been explored, using ovalbumin as surrogate allergen.
Additionally, antioxidant compounds naturally present in foods may also have
similar effects in favour of allergy inhibition.
of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
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