What is an Egg Replacement?
Egg replacement is using ingredients that alone or in combination can substitute eggs in fine bakery and other food products. Based on the goal, eggs can be partially or totally replaced. Egg replacement in bakery and food products has been driven by many factors:1
- Economics: considerable fluctuations in global egg supply and pricing
- Health concerns: cholesterol content, avian influenza outbreaks, etc.
- Lifestyle:vegan/vegetarian diets
- Shelf-life and handling: egg products have a limited shelf-life and can lead to HACCP issues
- Allergen: egg is considered a top allergen in the U.S., creating a challenge for food producers
Several health concerns are associated with egg consumption: the cholesterol content with its negative influence on heart health, the 2017 Fipronil scandal and the recurring outbreaks of avian influenza. The replacement of eggs in a formulation can provide consumers with better health opportunities. It can also be a nutritional alternative for people on special diet restrictions or ethical concerns, such as vegans.
These concerns have created a whole new food ingredients category dedicated to finding functional and cost-effective egg replacers. The feasibility of implementing partial or total substitution of eggs is judged primarily by the ingredients functional performance and quality of the finished food product as well as cost saving benefits.
Designing ingredients as egg replacers in bakery applications requires a good understanding of egg functionalities in baked systems, which include:1,2,3
- Foaming: stabilizatioin of air cells in the batter, heat setting (protein coagulation) and homogenous pore structure in final product
- Emulsification: important for consistency and texture
- Stabilizing: essential for firmness and elasticity
- Moistening: important for the sensory perception of cakes, cookies, and waffles
In addition, eggs impact the color and flavor of cakes and other baked goods.
Egg replacement strategies
Commercially-available egg replacers are classified into four main categories:4
- Protein concentrates and isolates: milk, whey, soy, pea, lupine
- Polysaccharides (gums, hydrocolloids): xanthan gum, guar gum, fibers
- Cyclic oligosaccharides: cyclodextrins
- Emulsifiers: soy lecithin, sucrose esters
These ingredients can be used individually or in combination depending on the baked product type and desired level of egg replacement. Ideal egg replacers should have the ability to replace 100% of the egg content and produce physical and sensory attributes equivalent to those in the original product.
Due to the fact that egg contains various functional substances (proteins, emulsifiers, lipids etc.), it is rather difficult to replace with just one ingredient. Promising results are achieved when using combinations of different ingredient categories complementing each other functionalities, such as using a protein combined with cyclodextrins.
Chia (Salvia hispanica L) seed gel was found to be effective in replacing eggs in cake formulations. Cakes made with 25% chia gel were not significantly different in taste, texture and overall panel acceptability from the egg-containing cakes.14
General functionality of ingredients used in egg replacement formulations:5,6,7,8,9
GRN No. 678 indicates alpha-cyclodextrin is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as an ingredient for general use in processed and ultra-processed foods.10
GRN No. 121 and GRN No. 37 indicates xanthan gum and whey protein isolate are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used in food.11
GRN No. 633 indicates whey protein is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) when used as an emulsifier or stabilizer in food or as a protein source.12
GRN No. 534 indicates hydrogenated lecithin from soy when used as an ingredient in food as long as it adheres to good manufacturing practices.13
- Ratnayake, Wajira S., Bhimalingeswarappa Geera, and Dana A. Rybak. “Effects Of Egg And Egg Replacers On Yellow Cake Product Quality.” Journal of Food Processing and Preservation 36.1 (2012): 21-29.
- Feeney, R.E. “Egg Proteins”. In Symposium on Foods: Proteins and their reactions. H.W. Schultz, H.W., and Angelmiers, A.F., editors. Avi Publishing Co., Westport, CT (1964)
- Ashwini, A., R. Jyotsna, and D. Indrani. “Effect of hydrocolloids and emulsifiers on the rheological, microstructural and quality characteristics of eggless cake.” Food Hydrocolloids 23.3 (2009): 700-707.
- Julianti, E., Rusmarilin, H., Yusriani, R.E. Effect of gluten-free composite flour and egg replacer on physicochemical and sensory properties of cakes. Int. Food Res. J. 2016, 23, 6: 2413-1418.
- Lin, M., Yang, H., Tay, S.H. and Li, H. Replacement of eggs with soybean protein isolates and polysaccharides to prepare yellow cakes suitable for vegetarians. Food Chem. 2017, DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.02.132
- Kohrs,, D., Herald, T.J., Aramouni, F.M. and Abughoush, M. evaluation of egg replacers in a yellow cake system. Emr. J. Food Agric. 2010,, 22, 5: 340-352
- Lee, C.C., Love, J.A. and Johnson, L.A. sensory and physical properties of cakes with bovine plasma products substituted for eggs. Cereal Chem. 1993, 70: 18-21.
- Hedayati, Sara, and Mostafa Mazaheri Tehrani. “Effect of total replacement of egg by soymilk and lecithin on physical properties of batter and cake.” Food Science & Nutrition 6.4 (2018): 1154-1161.
- Hussain, S. S. Abdul. “Studying the Possibility of Preparing An Egg-Free Or Egg-Less Cake.” International Journal of Engineering and Technology, vol. 1, no. 4, 2009, pp. 324–329., doi:10.7763/ijet.2009.v1.65.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/NoticeInventory/UCM566349.pdf Accessed on August 24 2018.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=121&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=xanthan%20gum Accessed on August 24 2018.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=633&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=whey%20protein Accessed on August 24 2018.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “GRAS Notices” Accessdata.fda.gov, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fdcc/?set=GRASNotices&id=534&sort=GRN_No&order=DESC&startrow=1&type=basic&search=lecithin Accessed on August 24 2018.
- Borneo R, Aguirre A and Leon, A.E. Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as egg or oil replacer in cake formulations. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2010, 110, pp: 946-949.