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milk allergen cardMilk allergy is one of the most common food allergies in childhood, affecting about 1-2 percent of preschool children. Fortunately, most children will grow out of their milk allergy. Current anecdotal observation suggests that whilst, in the past, most children would outgrow their milk allergy before starting school, increasing numbers are now out growing their milk allergy much later. Some children enter high school years with milk allergy and outgrow it in their teen years and a small number do not out grow it. This small group remain milk allergic into adulthood.

Milk or milk products may be found in foods we don't always expect them to be in. It is important to use common sense and read food labels carefully. A downloadable allergen card (pdfMilk - Allergen card885.22 KB) for those with milk allergy has been developed to help make shopping a little easier.

Quick tips

  • Deli meat slicers are frequently used for both meat and cheese products.

  • Many non-dairy products use casein (a milk derivative) as a binder. This includes some brands of canned tuna and some processed meats.

  • Many restaurants put butter on steaks after they have been grilled to add extra flavour. The butter is not visible after it melts.

  • Be aware of foods that have a shine to them.  Milk can be used to give foods a glazed appearance.

  • Many butchers and fresh food outlets now have ready-to-cook products such as satay skewers or seasoned foods that contain milk powder. These allergen-containing foods may very well be sitting next to the plain foods or prepared on the same surfaces. When purchasing these foods, consider asking about the risk of contamination. Gloves may sometimes need to be changed if the shop assistant has served a food containing the allergen prior to serving your food.

  • Fruit juice can contain milk protein.

  • Milk protein has been added as an ingredient to bottled water. Although correctly labelled, people have been caught out. Check ingredients of food and drink if food allergic

  • Managing Life with Cow's Milk and Egg Allergy (hour long webinar). Huge thanks to our presenter’s Dr Brynn Wainstein, Assoc Prof Alyson Kakakios and Ms Nina Kingon (dietician). The event was  kindly sponsored(unrestricted educational grant) by Nutricia, Alphapharm and Coles.

Fact Sheets on milk allergy are available from the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and ASCIA websites.

Content updated August 2016


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