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Dairy-Free/Casein-Free Guide

Always read ingredients and check with the manufacturer if you are not sure if something contains milk or milk derivatives, and avoid the food until you are sure.

Foods or ingredients that definitely are or contain milk protein (unless it’s a dairy alternative):

  • Cow’s milk in all forms, including whole, lowfat, nonfat, condensed, dry, powder, evaporated, solids, malted, buttermilk
  • Other animal’s milk, including goat’s and sheep’s milk*
  • Butter, ghee (clarified butter)
  • Cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese
  • Cream, half and half, whipped cream, sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Butter flavor (natural and artificial)
  • Nougat
  • Custard, mousse, pudding
  • Casein, caseinate
  • Whey
  • Hydrolysates
  • Lactose
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactate (but Calcium Lactate is OK)
  • Lactic acid starter culture (but Lactic Acid is OK)
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactulose
  • Sodium Lactylate (but Lactylate is OK)

* The proteins in goat’s and sheep’s milk are so similar to those in cow’s milk that a person allergic to cow’s milk probably has a sensitivity to other milk proteins also.

Ingredients that may contain dairy (milk protein):

  • Margarine
  • Chocolate
  • Caramel, caramel color, caramel flavorings
  • Natural and artificial flavorings
  • Natural egg flavor
  • Coconut Cream flavoring
  • Brown sugar flavoring
  • Frozen yogurt
  • High protein flour or “high energy” foods
  • Lactic acid starter culture (but Lactic Acid is OK)
  • Fat Replacers like Opta, Simplesse and Dairy-Lo

Things to watch out for:

  • Baked goods, including bread, crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes
  • Breakfast foods – pancakes, waffles
  • Candy
  • Processed meats, like hot dogs, luncheon meat and sausage
  • Seasoned chips and crackers
  • Energy bars
  • Salad dressings, dips and sauces
  • Soups
  • Non-dairy products – they might have milk proteins in them
  • Soy alternative products – might have milk protein in them
  • Anything sautéed – even vegetables, as many restaurants use butter
  • Egg dishes, such as scrambled eggs
  • Mashed potatoes

BEWARE: “Dairy-Free” and “Non-dairy” labels do not necessarily mean that a product is free of milk protein!

  • There is no regulation for use of the term “dairy-free.” Some companies may use “dairy-free” on a label for lactose-free or low-lactose products. Some companies may use the term for products that are free of dairy ingredients such as milk or cream, but the product may still contain milk derivatives such as whey or casein.
  • There is regulation by the Food and Drug Administration Companies for use of the term “non-dairy”, but non-dairy foods could still contain caseinates (milk proteins). The ingredient statement must indicate if there is any derivative of milk, so be sure to read labels very carefully, even if they say non-dairy.

What about Kosher products?
If a Kosher food is labeled “pareve” or “parve”, it is considered dairy-free (no milk ingredients). If a product is labeled with a “D” next to the circled K or U, then there are milk ingredients in the product, and so should be avoided by milk-allergic people.

Tip: Look for vegan products – that means there is no animal byproducts at all, so no milk!

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), mandates that foods labeled on or after January 2006 must declare milk in plain language either on the ingredient list or by using the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen.

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