Skip to content

    Allergies Health Center

    Font Size

    Allergic to Milk? How to Spot Hidden Ingredients

    If you have a food allergy, a package label can be your best friend. Read it closely and you'll keep yourself safe.

    Food labels tell you if the product has common allergy triggers like eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. You'll also learn if it contains anything with milk.

    Recommended Related to Allergies

    Tips to Ease Indoor Allergies at Home

    Try these simple tips to control allergens that may lurk in your home. Shower Power: Pollen sticks to everything. Shower, wash hair, and change clothing if you've been outdoors during heavy pollen times. Sleep's Secrets: Sleep relieves stress and helps your body heal when fighting allergy symptoms. Fixer Upper: Updating your house? Hardwood floors are a great amenity -- and perfect for allergy-prone families. TLC for the AC: Don't take your air conditioner for granted...

    Read the Tips to Ease Indoor Allergies at Home article > >

    Words to Watch For

    If you're allergic to milk protein, you need to look for a bunch of different words that could spell trouble for you. When you're at the store, check if any of these things are on the ingredients list:

    • Butter
    • Buttermilk
    • Casein, casein hydrolysate, and caseinates
    • Cheese
    • Cottage cheese
    • Cream
    • Curds
    • Diacetyl
    • Ghee
    • Lactalbumin
    • Lactoferrin
    • Lactose and lactulose
    • Milk (all types)
    • Recaldent
    • Rennet casein
    • Sour cream
    • Whey (in all forms)
    • Yogurt

    Where Milk Hides

    If you're trying to avoid milk, you need to keep your guard up. It lurks in some surprising foods. Be on the lookout for dairy that's tucked away in these items:

    • Baked goods and cake mixes
    • Hot dogs and deli meat
    • Indian food, where ghee (a form of butter) is very common
    • Gravies
    • Battered and fried foods
    • Vegetarian cheese and soy cheese
    • Protein powders
    • Granola bars
    • Cereal

    How to Choose Safe Foods

    Stick with packaged and labeled foods. Avoid the temptation to try things from salad bars, deli counters, and bakeries. They're more likely to accidentally have your allergy triggers in them.

    Read food labels every time you buy a product. Stay on your toes even for stuff that you buy every week. Food companies change ingredients all the time. Just because something has been safe for you in the past doesn't mean it always will be.

    Use caution if you see an ingredient you're not sure about. Look it up first. You can also contact the manufacturer if you need more info.

    Be careful when you buy a different-size container. When your favorite food comes in a package that's larger or smaller than you usually get, check the label extra-carefully. The same goes for low-fat or reduced-calorie versions. They may have very different ingredients than your old stand-by. Also, some products may have different ingredients in other parts of the country.

    Check labels on medications and toiletries. You may not realize it, but food allergens can show up in drugs, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and lotions.

    Speak up for yourself. At restaurants, let the staff, servers, managers, cooks, or chef know about your food allergy. Don't be afraid to ask how a dish gets prepared. Sometimes the menu doesn't list all the ingredients. Plain, simply prepared foods are your best bet.

    Avoid processed foods that are high in protein. They could contain milk proteins, casein, or whey.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 20, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    man blowing nose
    Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
    Allergy capsule
    Breathe easier with these products.
    cat on couch
    Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
    Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
    Which ones affect you?

    blowing nose
    woman with sore throat
    lone star tick
    Woman blowing nose

    Send yourself a link to download the app.

    Loading ...

    Please wait...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    cat lying on shelf
    Allergy prick test
    Man sneezing into tissue
    Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching