By Lauren Denos: 4/12/2015 (Concerns)

Milk is sometimes found in the following:

  • Artificial butter flavor
  • Baked goods
  • Caramel candies
  • Chocolate
  • Lactic acid starter culture and other bacterial cultures
  • Luncheon meat, hot dogs, sausages
  • Margarine
  • Nisin
  • Nondairy products
  • Nougat

Some Unexpected Sources of Milk*

  • Deli meat slicers are frequently used for both meat and cheese products.
  • Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein, a milk protein.
  • Many non-dairy products contain casein (a milk derivative), listed on the ingredient labels.
  • Some specialty products made with milk substitutes (i.e., soy-, nut- or rice-based dairy products) are manufactured on equipment shared with milk.
  • Some meats may contain casein as a binder. Check all labels carefully.
  • Shellfish is sometimes dipped in milk to reduce the fishy odor. Ask questions about the risk of milk contact when purchasing shellfish.
  • Many restaurants put butter on steaks after they have been grilled to add extra flavor. The butter is not visible after it melts.
  • Some medications contain milk protein.

*Note: This list highlights examples of where milk has been unexpectedly found (e.g., on a food label for a specific product, in a restaurant meal, in creative cookery). This list does not imply that milk is always present in these foods; it is intended to serve as a reminder to always read the label and ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you have not prepared yourself.

Things To Keep in Mind:

Individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk are often advised to also avoid milk from other domestic animals. For example, goat's milk protein is similar to cow's milk protein and may, therefore, cause a reaction in individuals who have a milk allergy.

Kosher Dairy: A “D” or the word “dairy” following the circled K or U on a product label indicates the presence of milk protein or a risk that the product is contaminated with milk protein. These products should be avoided.

Kosher Pareve: A product labeled “pareve” is considered milk-free under kosher dietary law. However, a food product may be considered pareve even if it contains a very small amount of milk protein – potentially enough to cause an allergic reaction in susceptible individuals. Do not assume that pareve-labeled products will always be safe. Copyright © 2014, Food Allergy Research & Education, Inc.

In addition to the list above, remember that many protein powders contain whey as well. If you are a protein powder user, you may want to switch to a hemp, rice, pea, or a plant protein. There are a variety of vegetable or grain proteins to choose from.

What can you do about your food allergy or intolerance?

If you have a mild intolerance then you could test out using lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that helps the body break down dairy. If you have a lactose intolerance then your body is not making enough of this enzyme. Supplementing your diet with lactase could alleviate your issues. But if you have a severe intolerance or an allergy then avoidance would probably be your best bet.

Alternatives to regular dairy

Raw milk- Raw milk has been all the rage lately. Some people who have issues with normal dairy feel fine when they drink raw dairy. The argument being made with raw milk is that on the one hand, raw milk has more of its enzymes, vitamins and healthy bacteria like lactobacilli intact. This side of the fence also believes that many of the intolerance and allergies of dairy comes from killing all of the good benefits to it through the pasteurization and homogenization. On the other hand the processing that milk goes through is what kills bacteria (the good and bad kind) and pathogens that can be spread from unpasteurized milk. The CDC, FDA, does warn against the use of raw dairy and the possibility for illness.

When it boils down to it, if you have a dairy allergy, you are better off not doing any dairy. If you have an intolerance to dairy, but you just love it so much you have to have it, then you can decide if raw really does work better in your body. Although there is no clear conclusion between the two side of this debate, and you do need to choose for yourself. If you do decide to go the raw route, make sure you know where your dairy is coming from. Make sure it is a reputable farm that has a good track record. Raw milk also only stays good for a few days, so make sure you are not drinking spoiled milk.

Goat milk- Goat milk is known for being better on the human body than cow’s milk is. It is digested easier in the stomach that cow’s milk. That being said, goat milk still has lactose in it and although it is a bit different, the proteins may still have the same allergic effect on the body.

Lactose-free milk- Lactose-free milk is simply milk that has had most of the lactose removed. The proteins that cause allergic reactions in many are still in the milk. So for allergies, this would not be a suitable substitute. For those with lactose intolerance, this can be a great way to have your milk and drink it too!

Almond milk- Almond milk is simply made from almonds and water. This can be a great alternative if you do not have any nut allergies. You can make your own in your blender at home. If you are going to buy it in the store, make sure you read the ingredients. Homemade almond milk tastes better than anything you will buy. If you want it a bit sweet you can add a touch of Stevia, honey, molasses or whatever your favorite sweetener is. You can look up recipes, but it is generally just almonds and water blended together and then strained.

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