Going Out for Coffee or a Cocktail? Beware of Egg White

Coffee Cocktail

Heading out to meet friends at a cafe or bar? Looking forward to that caffeine surge you get from coffee or that buzz from a cocktail? Enjoy, but don’t forget that beverages require as much due diligence as food when you are out and about with a food allergy.

One Top 8 allergen that often appears in drinks is egg white. Saveur describes why in their article “Why Raw Egg Whites Make Better Cocktails“:

A whole category of drinks—sours (including whiskey sours)—were traditionally made with egg whites. When properly shaken, the whites give drinks a silky, almost creamy texture, but they remain light and crisp, unlike cocktails made with whole eggs or cream. An egg white cocktail will also have a pretty, distinctive head on top, almost like a cappuccino; bartenders often decorate this with bitters.

Egg whites are largely odorless and tasteless, so their contribution to drinks are almost entirely textural. Their proteins trap air bubbles when agitated, leaving a rich, long-lasting frothy foam.

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Last week, the Manchester Evening News reported the story of Amelia Bates, a woman out on the town who ordered a Ciroc Colada at Rosso, a swanky Manchester bar. After one sip of her cocktail, Bates began to feel her throat close and called 999, the UK equivalent of 911. She was given epinephrine by paramedics and rushed by ambulance to Manchester Royal Infirmary where she remained under observation for a few hours before being released.

Amelia Bates Outside Rosso

Although the 17-page cocktail menu warned patrons to notify the waitstaff of their allergies, the ingredient list for the colada did not mention eggs.

But cocktails are not the only beverages where eggs are used. Egg whites are sometimes used in coffee beverages as well.

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Back in March, Starbucks introduced the “Cloud Macchiato” to their lineup of beverages served at the chain with this announcement:

New to Starbucks retail stores this spring, Starbucks Cloud Macchiato is the latest innovation from the team that introduced the original Caramel Macchiato. So light it might just fly away, the Cloud Macchiato features a cloud of whipped cold milk foam that’s light and smooth, topped with espresso shots and finished with Starbucks signature caramel drizzle cross-hatch. It’s the silky and exhilarating treat that will jumpstart your taste buds, available in two flavors: Caramel Cloud Macchiato and Cinnamon Cloud Macchiato. 

The announcement didn’t mention that the cloud in their Cloud Macchiato is made with egg white powder, which is disclosed in the ingredient list for the product on their website:

Ingredients
Milk, Brewed Espresso, Toffee Nut Syrup [Sugar, Water, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid], Cloud Powder [Sugar, Arabic Gum, Egg White Powder, Rice Protein, Citric Acid, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor, Xanthan Gum], Caramel Sauce [Sugar, Corn Syrup, Butter (Cream [Milk], Salt), Water, Heavy Cream, Nonfat Dry Milk, Natural Flavors, Salt, Mono & Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Sulfites], Mocha Sauce [Water, Sugar, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Natural Flavor].

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Starbucks Cloud Macchiato

With this in mind, we urge you to devote as much attention to the possible allergen content of your beverages as you do to the foods you eat. Always notify waitstaff of your allergies, inquire about the ingredients used, and understand how your order will be prepared to avoid cross-contact.

With this in mind, we urge you to devote as much attention to the possible allergen content of your beverages as you do to the foods you eat. Always notify waitstaff of your allergies, inquire about the ingredients used, and understand how your order will be prepared to avoid cross-contact.

And always take two epinephrine auto-injectors along everywhere, every time, and administer epinephrine immediately when you suspect you are experiencing the symptoms of anaphylaxis.

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