Duck eggs are an increasingly popular alternative to chicken eggs that many people are beginning to try. However, some people find that when they eat duck eggs, they get sick afterward. What exactly about duck eggs would make one feel ill when other eggs do not?
Duck eggs likely make one sick as a result of two specific proteins within the egg: ovomucoid and ovalbumin. One may also be allergic to potential allergens in the ducks’ feed, such as soy. One can be allergic to duck eggs without being allergic to chicken eggs.
The reasons duck eggs are making you ill can vary greatly. Read on to learn a little more about just why duck eggs are making you so sick.
Why Duck Eggs are Making You Ill
Allergic Reaction to Ovomucoid and Ovalbumin
Both chicken and duck eggs contain proteins called ovomucoid and ovalbumin, which make up a large amount of the protein in egg whites. These proteins can cause allergies in certain individuals. An allergic reaction to eggs may indicate an allergy to one or both of these proteins.
Alternatively, lipocalin-type prostaglandin D synthase and egg white cystatin are two proteins found in chicken eggs that contribute to allergic reactions that could potentially be the cause of your duck egg allergy as well. Only an allergist could tell you safely, and for certain, if you are allergic to these proteins, but there is a small possibility that you could remove the egg yolk from the egg whites and have a milder or non-existent allergic reaction.
Allergens in Feed
Allergens in the feed of the ducks from which you gather eggs could also be the culprit of your negative reaction to duck eggs. While one study found that peanut and soy allergens were not transferred to the eggs of chickens who were fed a diet high in those allergens, there is another study that suggests that soy isoflavones can be transferred to the egg yolk of a chicken’s egg, and it is assumed the same is true for duck eggs.
If you have a sensitivity to soy products, then this theory might cause you some discomfort or an allergic reaction, although it has not been studied extensively. In this case, then it might be possible for you to eat just the duck egg whites and not the yolk to avoid discomfort, although again, only an allergist can determine if you are allergic to duck eggs.
Storage and Preparation
There is always the possibility that duck eggs are making you sick because they are either undercooked or they have gone bad. While duck eggs don’t need to be refrigerated, their shelf life extends from 3 weeks to 4 months when they are refrigerated. If you are eating duck eggs that have been kept out for too long, you may be getting ill as a result.
In addition, duck eggs can sometimes be bigger than chicken eggs, meaning that perhaps you are cooking them for less time than you should. Finally, cooking duck eggs extensively and baking them are excellent ways to reduce the allergenicity of said eggs, as it breaks down the proteins that cause egg allergy in the first place.
Can You be Allergic to Duck Eggs without being Allergic to Chicken Eggs?
Some may be confused as to why duck eggs are making them ill when they can eat eggs laid by chickens with no issue. The truth is, one can be deathly allergic to duck eggs without having any negative reaction to chicken eggs. This is because of a slight difference in the epitopes of the ovalbumin protein that both eggs have.
Someone can very possibly have an allergic reaction to duck eggs but not chicken eggs, or vice versa. In addition to ovalbumin, a lysozyme may be the allergen trigger for those who can eat chicken eggs without issue but cannot eat duck eggs. This reaction has been demonstrated scientifically on several occasions.
If you are wondering if you are allergic to duck eggs and not chicken eggs or vice versa, visit an allergist.
Risks of Duck Egg Allergy
If you are finding out that you are experiencing significant discomfort and illness after eating duck eggs, you should refrain from eating them until you get tested by an allergist. Some of the symptoms of an egg allergy (which typically includes both chicken and duck eggs) include:
- Inflammation or trouble breathing in the throat, or other asthma-like symptoms such as a constrictive feeling chest
- Skin inflammation and irritation, which is the most common
- Bowel discomfort or cramping
If any of these symptoms last for more than a few hours, get treatment.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms after eating duck eggs, you may indeed be allergic to them, especially if you experience two or more of these symptoms. Make sure to see a doctor or allergist to confirm the allergy before you eat duck eggs again.
Remember, just because someone experiences only a mild allergic reaction the first time they eat duck eggs or any other allergen, does not eliminate the possibility of a much more serious reaction the next time they eat them. It is better to be safe than sorry! Children are more likely than adults to suffer from an egg allergy and typically grow out of it before adulthood, though that is not always the case.
These symptoms can occur whether or not the eggs are cooked (although you are certainly risking further illness by eating raw eggs) and whether or not they are being eaten alone or as part of a recipe in which they are just one ingredient. In addition, if you regularly eat your duck eggs with something else, you may not be allergic to duck eggs at all, as you might be allergic to the foods you ate with the duck eggs.
Overall, there are only a few reasons why duck eggs are making you sick after eating them. Before eating duck eggs, make sure you store them properly and don’t eat them after they have expired or gone bad.