Milk Allergy

Allergy to cow’s milk is the most common food allergy in early childhood. Milk allergy is an abnormal and adverse response by the body's immune system to milk protein and dairy products. Cow's milk is the usual cause of milk allergy, but due to the fact that the proteins in cow's milk are very similar to those found in milk from goat, sheep, buffalo and other ruminants, caution is highly advised. Therefore, people who are allergic to cow's milk may also experience reactions to the milk of other ruminants. Interesting: The most common type of allergy-causing milk protein is alpha S1-casein. Soy milk or nut milks are considered also no solutions for people with soy, tree nuts and other multiple food allergies.


To prevent a reaction, strict avoidance of cow’s milk and other milk products is essential. Always read ingredient labels and ask restaurant employees to identify milk ingredients. Communication is the key for ensuring a safe, enjoyable allergen free meal. Use or “Food Allergy Translate App” or your “Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards” to gain better understanding!

Allergic reactions

A milk allergy usually occurs shortly after consuming milk or dairy products. Signs and symptoms of milk allergy range from mild to severe like wheezing, vomiting, hives and strong digestive problems. Rarely, but milk allergy does cause anaphylaxis (severe, life-threatening reaction). Sensitivity to cow’s milk varies from person to person. Some people can develop a severe reaction after ingesting a tiny amount of milk. Others have only a mild reaction after ingesting moderate amounts of milk. When the milk protein is ingested, it can trigger an allergic reaction that may include a range of symptoms. Interestingly milk allergy is found to be associated with increased hospitalization rates and steroid use among children with asthma.

In this case too, such as in case of any other allergy, avoidance is the primary treatment for milk allergy. Researches indicate that up to 4% percent of infants are allergic to milk, for many of these infants this allergy will disappear within a few years. Nearly all infants develop an allergy to milk within their first year of life. Always consult an allergist or immunologist before reintroducing milk products into a child’s diet. Around 80% of babies and children eventually outgrow a milk allergy. Allergy to dairy products is most likely to persist in children and infants who have high levels of cow’s milk antibodies in their blood. Special blood tests that measure these antibodies can help determine and solve this particular question. Such severe milk allergy can be a lifelong condition and an exclusion diet with vigilant avoidance is the key for managing this condition. Assessment of this likelihood or reintroduction of dairy products should be carried out in association with a specialist. Important: Dairy allergies are less common among adults and should not to be confused with lactose intolerance, which is not a food allergy, although symptoms are very similar to some of the symptoms of milk allergy. This condition is also uncomfortable and can cause serious digestive problems when untreated, but not as dangerous as milk allergy. Treatment may be the same: avoiding consumption of dairy products containing lactose (milk sugar).

Avoid foods

Many countries require that all packaged food products that contain milk as an ingredient must list the word “Milk” on the label. However this is not the case in all countries at all. Read all product labels carefully before purchasing and consuming any item. Many restaurants are especially not following such guidelines and no long-term solutions exist for informing guests with food allergies about the potential presence of the nine major allergens. Do not let that eating out becomes one of your top concerns.

    Avoid foods that contain milk or any of these ingredients:

  • Beta-lactoglobulin
  • Butter, butter fat, butter oil,butter acid, butter ester(s)
  • Buttermilk
  • Casein
  • Casein hydrolysate
  • Caseinates (in all forms)
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Delactosed or demineralized whey
  • Ghee
  • Half-and-half
  • Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Milk (in all forms, including condensed, derivative, dry, evaporated, goat’s milk and milk from other animals, lowfat, malted, milkfat, nonfat, powder, protein, skimmed, solids, whole)
  • Milk protein hydrolysate
  • Pudding
  • Rennet casein
  • Sour cream, sour cream solids
  • Sour milk solids
  • Tagatose
  • Whey (in all forms)
  • Whey protein hydrolysate
  • Yoghurt

    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
  • Mashed potato
  • Nisin
  • Nondairy products
  • Nougat
  • Canned tuna
  • Candy, fruit and granola bars
  • Flavoured coffee, coffee whitener and non-dairy creamer
  • Some french fries
  • Some hot dogs and processed meats
  • Seasoned chips, for example, sour cream and onion
  • Waxes on some fruit and vegetables
  • Pesto


Milk is found

Watch out for cross-contamination and look for unexpected source of milk and other dairy products.

Cross contamination can happen:

  • For example cheese and deli meats are sliced on the same slicer; and through bulk preparation of food products (fast food restaurants).
  • Many products made with milk substitutes are manufactured on equipment shared with milk.
  • Many processed food products may contain casein as a binder.
  • Some medications, drugs and food supplements contain milk protein.

High risk countries

High risk countries to travel with milk allergy

  • France
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • And check out our country list

People with a milk allergy are not necessarily allergic to other food allergens. But if you are allergic to milk, you may have a greater chance of being allergic to egg products, which also contain sources of potentially allergic animal proteins.

With clear communication food allergies can be effectively managed!
According to experts and allergist the most effective and therefore best way to manage a food allergy is total avoidance. Novel solutions of communication seem to be a proven treatment for food allergies. Our Food Allergy Translate tools are contribution strategies to minimize your risk of accidents.

Eating out with food allergy!

Reduce your risk dramatically by using our Food Allergy Translate App or Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards to communicate your allergy alert in a foreign language.
Let the food service personnel know of your food allergy in advance. At least they should take extra care in preparing your meal!

Be prepared to communicate your needs in any restaurants. Let the restaurant/catering staff informed for avoiding the potential presence of the nine major allergens.

National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics;
National Report of the Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, NIH-NIAID 2003;
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), Tree Nut Allergy;
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004;
Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR). California 2013)