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Dairy Allergies

A Guide to Dairy Allergies

Learning More About Dairy Allergies:

Dairy allergies are one of the most common food allergies, particularly in infants and young children. It is estimated to affect approximately 2-6% of children in the United States and other developed countries. The proteins in cow’s milk that most commonly cause allergic reactions are casein and whey. Casein accounts for about 80% of the protein in cow’s milk, while whey makes up the remaining 20%. Both casein and whey can trigger allergic reactions in individuals with dairy allergy.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of dairy allergy can vary in severity and may include skin reactions such as hives, eczema, or rash; gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or bloody stools; respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or nasal congestion; and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Individuals with dairy allergy may also experience allergic reactions to milk from other mammals, such as goats, sheep, or buffalo, due to cross-reactivity between similar proteins found in these milks.

Dairy pitcher and glass on a counter
Dairy As An Ingredient:

Dairy ingredients can be found in a wide range of food products, including milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, ice cream, baked goods, processed meats, sauces, and salad dressings. It may also be present in non-food items such as medications, cosmetics, and skincare products. 

Cups of milk, a clear bowl of yogurt, and a plate of soft cheese
Labeling Requirements:

 In many countries, including the United States, food manufacturers are required to label products containing dairy or dairy-derived ingredients to alert consumers with dairy allergies. Look for phrases such as “contains milk,” “milk solids,” “casein,” or “whey” on food labels.  

Additionally, for products that are created in areas where cross-contamination may occur, companies include the statement “processed in a facility where dairy is used” on their product labels to inform consumers about the potential risk of cross-contamination with dairy allergens. The reason for this disclosure is to ensure transparency and provide important information to individuals with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. 

Cross-contamination labeling requirements:
Even if dairy is not an intended ingredient in the product, it may be present in the same facility where the product is processed or packaged. Cross-contamination can occur through shared equipment, utensils, or processing surfaces, which may come into contact with dairy-containing ingredients during the production process.


The primary management strategy for dairy allergy is strict avoidance of dairy products and dairy-derived ingredients. Individuals with dairy allergy must carefully read food labels, and get allergen testing on any foods they are uncertain of.

For food creators/manufacturers it is not only vital for the safety of your customers, but required by the FDA, to clearly label any product that contains dairy as an ingredient or poses any risk of cross-contamination if dairy could be present in the kitchen or manufacturing plant.

To test your product for dairy contact us or learn more about our Allergen Testing.

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