Health Q&A: Egg whites in wine and allergies

Feb 5, 2009

Q. My friend is allergic to eggs and shellfish. Could she be affected by wines that are fined with egg whites? — Carolyn, Port Washington, N.Y.

A: Your question is at the heart of a heated debate on including allergen warnings on bottles of wine. Egg whites, casein (a milk protein) and isinglass (a product made from fish bladders) are commonly used in the wine industry during production to clarify wine. Studies have shown that there are negligible amounts of the potential allergens left in the finished product. Current technology, however, may be inadequate in detecting extremely low levels of the allergens, which might affect highly allergic people. Though there have been no documented instances of reactions, some wine consumers are certain that they have had problems. As of yet, wine producers are not required to label their wines for potential allergens, but there are wines made without these products. If your friend has been having problems, you can ask the winemaker to be sure.

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Health Q & A

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