Food and Ingredients to Avoid on a Milk-Free Diet

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Milk allergy is a common food allergy, especially for children. Avoiding milk and all products or ingredients made with milk is essential for those with food allergies to remain free from an allergic reaction.

As one of the major food allergens outlined in the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), manufacturers must include milk and milk ingredients on their product labels.

The following voluntary statements indicate that food may be contaminated with milk:

  • “May contain milk”
  • “Product produced on shared equipment with milk”
  • “Made in a facility that also processes milk”

Food and Ingredients That Contain Milk

  • Butter. This includes artificial butter, artificial butter flavor, butter, butter extract, butter fat, butter flavored oil, butter solids, dairy butter, natural butter, natural butter flavor, whipped butter
  • Casein and caseinates. This includes ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, sodium caseinate, hydrolyzed casein, iron caseinate, zinc caseinate
  • Cheese. This includes all types of cheese, cheese flavor (artificial and natural), cheese food, cottage cheese, cream cheese, imitation cheese, and vegetarian cheeses with casein
  • Cream and products made with cream such as whipped cream
  • Curds 
  • Custard 
  • Dairy product solids
  • Galactose 
  • Ghee 
  • Half & Half 
  • Hydrolysates. This includes casein hydrolysate, milk protein hydrolysate, protein hydrolysate, whey hydrolysate, whey protein hydrolysate
  • Ice cream, ice milk, sherbet 
  • Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate 
  • Lactate solids
  • Lactic yeast
  • Lactitol monohydrate
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose 
  • Lactulose 
  • Milk. Including acidophilus milk, buttermilk, buttermilk blend, buttermilk solids, cultured milk, condensed milk, dried milk, dry milk solids (DMS), evaporated milk, fat‐free milk, milk powder, goat’s milk, Lactaid® milk, lactose-free milk, low‐fat milk, malted milk, milk derivative, milk protein, milk solids, milk solid pastes, non‐fat dry milk, non‐fat milk, non‐fat milk solids, pasteurized milk, powdered milk, sheep’s milk, skim milk, skim milk powder, sour milk, sour milk solids, sweet cream buttermilk powder, sweetened condensed milk, sweetened condensed skim milk, whole milk, 1% milk, and 2% milk
  • Milk fat, anhydrous milk fat
  • Nisin preparation 
  • Nougat 
  • Pudding 
  • Quark 
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet, rennet casein 
  • Simplesse (fat replacer) 
  • Sour cream, sour cream solids, imitation sour cream
  • Whey. This includes acid whey, cured whey, delactosed whey, demineralized whey, hydrolyzed whey, powdered whey, reduced mineral whey, sweet dairy whey, whey, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, whey powder, and whey solids
  • Yogurt (regular or frozen), yogurt powder

Ingredients That May Contain Milk

  • Natural flavoring
  • Caramel flavoring
  • High protein flour
  • Lactic acid (usually not a problem)
  • Lactic acid starter culture
  • “Non-dairy” products may contain casein such as rice cheese and soy cheese. Check the label.
  • Milk derivatives such as Lactoferrin Tagatose (Naturlose)
  • 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

Where Milk May Be Hidden or Unexpectedly Present

  • Deli meat slicers. Often, deli slicers are used for both meat and cheese products. Make sure there is a separate slicer for cheese products.
  • Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein, a milk protein.
  • Many non-dairy products contain casein (a milk protein derived from milk) 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 deli 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 and a juicy shine to the meat. The butter is not visible after it melts.
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Article Sources

  • Food Allergy Research and Education.
  • Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel
  • Joneja. The Health Care Professional’s Guide to Food Allergies and Intolerances.
  • Sicherer S. Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It.