A new test, under development by the University of Geneva, Switzerland, professor Philippe Eigenmann, is expected to allow better diagnosis and specific predictions of the severity or persistence of egg allergy.

The test begins by exposing an individual to a ‘food challenge’ (that is, eating either raw or cooked egg) and then measures antibody levels in the blood.

Raised antibody levels indicate an allergic response and it has been found that some people with egg allergy have either no reaction or only a mild reaction to denatured (cooked) proteins.

Eigenmann said instead of saying to patients ‘you are allergic to egg, so you need to restrict all forms of egg in your diet’, we might be able to tell them they are allergic to egg but can eat, for example, egg pasta or foods cooked with eggs; in daily life this really makes a difference.

"5-8% of children have a food allergy, and an allergy to eggs is most common. It can be difficult for parents and school staff looking after these children. "But if they can give the child egg pasta or a cookie, for example, it is much easier than having to avoid everything with egg and looking for traces of egg on menus or food labels or packaging," Eigenmann said.