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Can I eat non-dairy foods if I have a milk allergy?

Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

If you have a milk allergy, you still have to be careful with "non-dairy" foods. These foods often contain ingredients that have milk protein in them. 

Check ingredient statements and steer clear of foods that list terms like whey, casein, calcium casein, casein hydrolysate, magenesium casein, potassium casein, rennet casein, sodium casein, butter, butter flavoring, lactalbumin, lactoalbumin,  lactaglobulin, lactose and margarine.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you suffer from a milk allergy, it can make your gut feel like a washing machine in the rinse phase. Watch out for hidden sources of dairy. For example, some brands of canned tuna fish and other non-dairy products contain casein, a milk protein. The Food and Drug Administration is currently working on requiring products to eliminate the term "non-dairy" if they contain milk derivatives. Some ingredients seem like they contain milk products or derivatives, but actually don't. These are safe to have if you a lactose allergy: cocoa butter, cream of tartar and calcium lactate. (Lactose intolerance is the lack of GI agreement with dairy products.)

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"Non-dairy" foods may still contain milk proteins, so if you have a milk allergy, take time to read labels. Many packaged meals, vegetables, gravies, sauces, soups and salad mixes contain milk. Avoid foods that contain milk, milk products, milk casein or caseinates. Use milk-free margarine when cooking, and soy formula, water or juice as substitutes for liquids in baking.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.