Shopping for children with cows’ milk protein allergy

Cows’ milk free diet – food shopping guide

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Key takeaways

  • Management of cows’ milk protein allergy involves elimination of sources of cows’ milk protein from the diet
  • Identify ingredients on a food label that contain or may contain cows’ milk protein
  • Understand substitute options when eliminating dairy from the diet to ensure nutritional needs are met
Cows’ milk free – food shopping guide | Neocate
Shopping guide for parents of children with cows’ milk allergy 

Infants and children diagnosed with cows’ milk protein allergy must avoid all foods containing cows’ milk protein until it is safe to reintroduce. While most of us know that cows’ milk is found in dairy products, other foods containing cows’ milk are not always obvious.  Thankfully, there are legislations in place in Australia and New Zealand that requires ‘milk’ to be listed in bold text in ingredient lists on food labels to make it easier to identify allergens. For parents of children with cows’ milk protein allergy it is important to read the labels of all manufactured foods to ensure that they do not contain cows’ milk protein. 

The following foods contain cows’ milk protein and must be avoided by children and infants with cows’ milk protein allergy1

A2 Milk 

Dried milk 

Low fat milk 

Acidophilus milk 

Dried milk solids 

Malted milk 

Butter 

Evaporated milk 

Milk 

Buttermilk 

Fat-free milk 

Milk derivative 

Casein/Caseinates 

Ghee 

Milk powder 

Cheese 

Butter oil 

Milk protein 

Cheese powder 

Butter fat 

Milk solids 

Condensed milk 

Hydrolysates (casein, milk, protein, whey) 

Non-fat dairy solids 

Cottage cheese 

Ice cream 

Non-fat milk solids 

Cream 

Infant formula- cows’ milk based including partially hydrolysed (HA) formula 

Skin milk 

Cultured milk 

Kefir 

Skim milk solids 

Curds 

Lactalbumin 

Sour cream 

Custard 

Lactoglobulin 

Whey  

Dairy solids 

Lactose-free milk 

Yoghurt 


*It is recommended that children with IgE-mediated cows’ milk protein allergy are careful with all coconut products. Coconut itself does not contain cows’ milk protein, however, authorities cannot currently guarantee that sufficient testing has occurred on all coconut products to ensure they are cows’ milk protein free.1
 

Coconut products made in Australia using Australian grown coconuts are most likely safe, however, it is important to check with manufacturers to ensure they are cows’ milk free.1

**Children with cows’ milk protein allergy will also need to avoid other mammalian milks (like sheep and goat milk) as these contain similar proteins to those found in cows’ milk. These milks may cause an allergic reaction in a child with cows’ milk protein allergy. 

The following foods may contain cows’ milk protein. It is important to check the labels on these foods before giving them to your child. If the food contains cows’ milk protein it should be avoided.1: 

Alcoholic cocktails (some) 

Breads, breadcrumbs 

Caramel or butterscotch desserts 

Biscuits, cakes, pastry 

Breakfast cereal 

Chocolate 

Bottled water that is flavoured or protein enriched 

Canned spaghetti 

Probiotic drinks 

Confectionary 

Instant mashed potatoes 

Processed meats 

Drinking chocolate 

Malted milk powder 

Protein shakes 

Gravy 

Margarine 

Salad dressings 

High energy foods and powders with added protein 

Milk ice blocks 

Snack food 

High protein fruit juice drinks 

Non-dairy creamers 

Soy cheese 

Icing 

Nougat 

Soups 

Infant rusks/rice cereals 

Pasta sauces 

Sports drinks 


Please note
 that this is not a complete list of all foods containing cows’ milk protein. It is important to check the labels of all manufactured foods before consuming. 

Cows’ milk alternatives 

Cows’ milk and dairy products provide an important source of calcium, protein, energy and other nutrients for infants and children. If cows’ milk is removed from the diet due to cows’ milk protein allergy, it is important to provide an alternative source of these nutrients. Most of the products listed below are available at large supermarkets, however, for some of the items you may need to visit a health food or specialty store. 

Instead of: 

Use: 

Cows’ milk infant formula for a child less than one to two years of age 

Breast milk or appropriate formula as advised by your child’s medical specialist 

Cows’ milk for children over one to two years of age and adults 

Soy, rice, oats, nuts, pea protein-based drinks. Choose one with 120-160mg calcium per 100ml. Calcium fortified soy milk is the preferred option, nutritionally, if tolerated. 

Yoghurt 

Soy yoghurt. 

NOTE: Some products contain a small amount of cows’ milk protein. Check the label carefully. 

Cheese, sour cream 

Soy cheese, soy sour cream 

NOTE: Some soy cheeses contain cows’ milk protein. Check the label carefully. 

Ice cream 

Soy ice cream, sorbet, milk free gelato. NOTE: Some products contain a small amount of cows’ milk protein. Check the label carefully. 

Butter and margarine 

Oil or milk-free margarine 

Cream and condensed milk 

Soy cream, soy cooking milk, soy condensed milk, rice cream 

Chocolate 

Soy or rice based (milk free) chocolate 

 

Table adapted from Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy ‘Dietary Avoidance- cows’ milk allergy’ 2020.1

This article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your doctor. 

References: 

  1. Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). ASCIA Dietary avoidance – cow’s milk protein (dairy) allergy 2021. Available from: Cow’s milk protein (dairy) – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) (Accessed June 2021)
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