My daughter has a mild egg allergy, getting pink splotches, which so far hasn’t been life threatening. She can eat baked goods with eggs with no issue. I’m curious if anyone knows anything about the science of killing the allergens and what it would take in a sous vide environment to render the eggs safe. Some combination of time and temperature seems to render the eggs safe for many kids with this allergy.
Your question sparked some curiosity in me so I did a quick Google search on the subject (nobody I know suffers from this allergy, so I’d never looked into it before). It would appear that, consistent with your daughter’s ability to eat baked goods with no ill effects, the proteins in egg whites that are responsible for the allergy are effectively denatured (“killed”, so to speak) via heat. There are multiple proteins involved, and the amount of heat and time required to denature them sufficiently varies for each one. I haven’t yet found a layman’s treatment of the subject with simple and clear recommendations for how to make sure eggs are sufficiently cooked to render them harmless, but if you have trouble sleeping some time you could try giving this research paper a once-over (it’s the first thing I found that adequately explains the issue):
Yeah, the lack of testing is the challenge. I know the allergens can be neutralized with baking, as that already works for her, but i doubt most scientists and allergists are familiar with sous vide cooking enough to know what the impact would be. I was hoping to find one that knows for sure… It seems like sous vide cooking for a long enough period would be sufficient, but it isn’t clear how long that is. Some baked goods are only in the oven for fifteen minutes or less (like cupcakes), and that is a food preparation where the eggs aren’t held at their final temperature for that long. From what I can read, baked goods generally max out at 200F or so, which is hotter than sous vide recipes, but for a shorter period of time. I am thinking that a 73C cook for 30 minutes is PROBABLY going to do the trick, but i’d sure love some evidence before potentially subjecting my daughter to some discomfort. The upside of her being able to eat eggs would be amazing though…
Sous vide is just another cooking method. It has been around since the '70s in professional kitchens. In labs, the precision heating of substances has also been part of the research kit for a long time. So, you might be surprised what you can find out from your local medical research facility or immunology researcher. Allergies are so prevalent currently that they appear regularly on research agendas.