Dairy allergies are one of the most common allergies. It can be extremely tough to avoid dairy because so many processed foods have some milk ingredients in them. In fact, everything from hard candies to canned soup can have milk in it and you might never know.
Milk masquerades as a whole host of ingredients, including:
- Whey and casein hydrolysates
- Lactate starter
- Ammonium caseinate
- Butter solids/fat
- Calcium caseinate
- Delactosed whey
- Demineralized whey
- Dried milk or dried milk powder
- Hydrolzed casein
- Lactabum phosphate
- Magnesium caseinate
- Milk derivatives
- Milk fat
- Potassium caseinate
- Milk Solids
- Sour cream solids
- Whey protein concentrate
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list! Milk and milk ingredients can and are used in a wide range of products, and if you really want to be sure that you are avoiding all milk protein or milk ingredients, you will need to be willing to contact the food company to ask about the particular ingredient.
Milk allergy is not usually life threatening, but it can be. So, while your allergy may start out mild, it is still the best policy to avoid the allergen as completely as you can, unless you are taking immunotherapy. Uncontrolled exposure can lead to increasing severity in your allergy.
The good news is that there are a lot of quite reasonable alternatives to milk that you can use successfully in your cooking at home. Common alternatives include rice beverage, almond beverage, soy beverage and other nut or seed milks. Many of these beverages can be made at home with good success; commercial versions are easily available.
Keep in mind that a couple of these milk alternatives are actually on our top 10 list of common allergens! So, if you have multiple allergies, you may have to hunt around until you get an alternative that will work for your unique set of concerns.
When eating food in a restaurant, avoiding milk protein can be a real challenge. Cross-contamination on cooking surfaces and in frying oil is quite likely, since most menus will have a host of breaded and battered items, and these items often use milk as an ingredient. Often vegetables will be served with butter or sauces. Be prepared to ask for all your food with sauces on the side, or plain, if you have a milk allergy. For taste enhancement, look to spices and easy-to-get favorites, like lemon slices. A jolt of lemon even works on a grilled chicken breast!