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Common Food Allergy Triggers and Where They Hide

Milk Allergies

A milk allergy is a reaction to milk proteins like casein. Some people cannot drink cow's milk but are fine with sheep or goat milk. Others can't have any type of milk. Common symptoms are severe stomach pain, diarrhea, skin hives, or difficulty breathing. 

Remember, lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy, but the inability to digest the sugar in milk (lactose). People who are lactose intolerant may suffer gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and gas, but won't have the allergy symptoms above.  

If you are allergic to cow's milk, read labels carefully. Greek-style yogurt is made with cow's milk, but Greek yogurt is made with goat's milk. Various forms of milk are found in products like cake mixes, instant mashed potatoes, and baked goods including pies. Milk products are also found in Indian dishes -- where ghee (a form of butter) is very common.

It gets confusing: Non-dairy coffee creamers and coffee whiteners contain skim milk. Margarines claiming to be 100% corn oil may contain skim milk powder.

Foods to avoid:

  • Skim milk, whole milk, malted milk, nonfat milk, powdered milk, half & half
  • Condensed, dry, or evaporated milk
  • Coffee creamers and coffee whiteners
  • Milk or yogurt from cows, goats, or other animals
  • Sour cream, imitation sour cream
  • Cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, curds, whey
  • Custard, pudding, yogurt
  • Chocolate, cookies, biscuits, bread, breakfast cereal
  • Batter-fried foods, gravies, instant mashed potatoes
  • Soy cheese, vegetarian cheese
  • Soup mixes, packaged soups, canned soups

Read ingredient labels carefully for:

  • Milk, pasteurized milk, milk powder, milk protein, milk solids, milk wholes
  • Casein, caseinates, rennet casein
  • Albumin, lactalbumin, lactic acid, lactose
  • Whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey syrup
  • Rennet, nougat
  • Artificial butter flavor; butter, butter fat, butter oil; buttermilk; ghee


Egg Allergies

In most cases, egg allergies are mild but are caused by even tiny amounts of egg. Sometimes, it's the egg white (albumen) that's the problem; for other people, it's the egg yolk. In rare cases, an egg allergy can trigger anaphylaxis.

While some products clearly list eggs or egg proteins as ingredients, others are less clear. If only tiny amounts of egg are in the product, you won't always see it on the label.

Noodles may contain egg, but not list it as an ingredient. Processed meats, like sausages, often have egg hidden in the mix. Bagels, pretzels, and other baked goods get their shiny appearance from egg white -- but it's not mentioned on the package label.

Avoid these foods containing eggs:

  • Omelettes
  • Eggnog
  • Mayonnaise, tartar sauce
  • Meringue or meringue powder; marshmallows
  • Pasta, spaghetti, macaroni, egg noodles
  • Surimi (imitation seafood)
  • Baking mixes and baked goods
  • Breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins
  • Cake flours, cakes, cookies
  • Ice cream, sherbets
  • Soups, souffles
  • Bologna, meat loaf, meatballs, sausages

These words indicate egg (or egg components) in a product:

  • Albumen
  • Lysozyme
  • Lecithin
  • Binder
  • Coagulant
  • Egg white
  • Egg yolk
  • Emulsifier
  • Globulin
  • Powdered egg
  • Vitellin

WebMD Medical Reference

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