Category: Hidden Dairy Products

Dairy-free Margarine and a complete list of dairy products

Learning what items do and don’t contain dairy did not come easy for me. As rashes came and went, I slowly discovered what is and is not a dairy product. I remember going to the health food store to buy the slimy Tofutti Cheese slices and Soy Dream Ice Cream (which contained “whey,” by the way). As I was checking out, the attendant said, “You know, we also carry dairy-free margarine if you’re interested.” What!?! Margarine has milk? I purchased the soy margarine and then went home to do more research. I found out that in addition to non-fat milk, butter, lactose, and the regular cheeses, the following ingredients also contain dairy products: (Brace yourself!)

Dairy Ingredients and Hidden Dairy Products:

Artificial butter flavor, Butter, Butter fat, Buttermilk, Butter oil, Casein, Caseinates (ammonia, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, Cheese, Cottage cheese, Cream, Curds, Custard, Ghee, Goat’s milk, Half & half, Hydrolysates (casein, milk protein, protein, whey, why protein), Kefir, Koumiss, Lactalbumin, Lactalbumin phosphate, Lactoglobulin, Lactose, Lactulose, Milk (condensed, derivative, powder, dry, evaporated, low fat, malted, non fat, protein, skim, solids, whole), Milkfat, Nougat, Paneer, Pudding, Rennet casein, Sour Cream, Sour cream solids, Sour milk solids, Whey (in any form including delactosed, demineralized, protein concentrate, sweet), Yogurt

Ingredients that MAY contain milk protein:

Chocolate, Flavorings (natural or artificial), High protein flour, Hot Dogs, Luncheon Meat, Margarine, Simplesse, Sausage, Starter Distillate.
Avoid “deli” meats, because the slicers frequently are used to cut both meat and cheese products. Also, some deli meats contain dairy products.
Kosher labeling: A product label marked Parve or Pareve is certified dairy-free. A product with a circled “U” on the label (with NO other symbols or letters) is Parve. A “D” or “DE” on a product label next to a circled “K” or circled “U” may indicate the presence of milk protein.
(ingredient information taken from

To my amazement, all of my margarine at home contained “whey.” No wonder my son’s eczema rash was still so prevalent that he scratched it until it bled! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me? So, the Health Food Store became our new best friend, and I’m sure that we kept it in business for quite sometime. The soy margarine smelled like burnt popcorn, and the flavor was only so so. We purchased two separate margarines because of the taste until we discovered Earth Balance Margarine. We are now all convereted and not only do we enjoy a yummy buttery taste as a family, we also get to live without any Trans Fat! It bakes just like butter and is so yummy! With the exception of my pocket book, this was a happy day when I discovered it.

Here is a link to understanding a little bit more about Kosher labeling:

Possible good news – accidental milk with no reactions:)

We were at the airport and I bought my kids some organic protein bars and orange juice to help tide them over until I could find them something more substantial.  It’s always harder finding allergy friendly foods when you’re both in a hurry and in a new place with tons of people.  Because of that, I was thrilled when I found these bars.  One of them said, “Dairy-free” on the front and the other one said, “Wheat free.”  I grabbed both and quickly read over the back to make sure that they both were safe (meaning “dairy-free”).  My oldest son took the “Wheat free” one by accident, though I thought both were safe.  After eating half of it, he said, “Mom, this is too good to be dairy-free.  Are you sure it doesn’t have any milk?”  This is not what I wanted to hear just minutes prior to boarding the airplane.  I grabbed the wrapper, just in case, and re-read the ingredients.  What I thought said, “almond butter” actually said, “almond, butter…”  I wasn’t entirely sure what to do.  I knew that the doctor had given us clearance to test baked milk, but the last time we had tried the smallest amount, my son broke out all over in a rash that itched for weeks.  I decided to keep the Benadryl handy (why did I forget my epi-pen???) and watch him closely on the plane, as he had only had a few bites.

Amazingly, he had NO REACTION!!!!  This is my son who has been anaphylactic to milk his entire life (he’s almost 13).  This is the boy who breaks out in hives and is sent to the hospital by simply eating a roll that had real butter accidentally brushed on top or a handful of the wrong popcorn.  This is the mom who yells out loud at a potluck dinner, “Don’t use that spoon in my chili!” for fear of cross-contamination (quieting the entire room, much to my embarrassment…but that’s another story:))  This is also the mom that cried when he went to scout camp for fear of a leader not getting there in time if he had a reaction (I “grilled” the EMT the night before he left.)  I’m not sure how much “butter” he actually had, however, I feel excited at the thought that just maybe he can once again qualify for the baked milk challenge.  Even more exciting is the possibility that perhaps when he goes off to college, he won’t have to struggle quite so hard in regards to his food allergy.  Of course we’ll roll with the punches, but the possibility of him outgrowing his allergy is a beautiful thought:)

McDonald’s French Fries Contain Dairy

I just recently learned that McDonald’s french fries contain dairy in them.  Also, their chicken nuggets contain dairy as do the chicken nuggets at Wendy’s (they must have changed their recipe in the last year or so).  Although my son has not had an anaphylactic reaction with the fries prior to my finding out, he has gotten rashes that we had no idea where they came from.  If you go to my website: and click on the Eating Out Guide, there are links to the  nutritional information for these and other restaurants.  Always double check labels as companies are constantly changing their recipes.  If nothing else, at least my family will be a little bit healthier now that we can’t have their fries:)

Always double check labels…

I bought a new cereal, Cinnamon Chex, and served it to my kids for breakfast. All Chex cereals have been dairy-free to my knowledge, so I didn’t even think to read the label. As we were eating it, everyone commented on how delicious it was. I turned the box to see how much sugar was in it and saw that it contained milk. I told my anaphylactic son to dump it down the drain, rinse his mouth out, and drink a cup of water to dilute the cereal. The next day he was once again covered in an itchy rash covering his arms that he will now have for a few weeks until it finally goes away. He tries not to scratch it, but during the night it’s hard for him, and he’s now got little scabs over the rash. Another lesson learned on how important it is to always double check labels. Thank goodness a rash is all that happened:)

The $90 Surprise

A year ago I purchased a 50 lb. bag of powdered soy milk for $90 to use in times of emergency and for baking. On the front of the package it said, “Non-dairy.” I opened the bag (first mistake) getting ready to put it into smaller containers for storage. I hesitated for a moment and decided to read the label just in case and to my horror it said, “Sodium Caseinate.” Now I knew that casein had milk, but I wasn’t sure about sodium caseinate. So, once again I did a search on the internet for “sodium caseinate” and found out that sure enough it had milk. Of course, because I had opened it, I couldn’t return it. Fortunately I found someone who used soy milk and didn’t have a milk allergy. I sold it to them at a minimal loss. Once again, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. Also, when in doubt, call the manufacturer.

Thanksgiving at Dotie’s House

Shopping for our visit to California took almost 8 hours for my mother-in-law. She meticulously read every label and did everything she could to ensure a dairy-free Thanksgiving. This meal was the first time we tried to experiment with different dairy-free recipes and desserts. We made “soupy” chocolate pudding from soy milk (I’ve hence improved it:, runny mashed potatoes, and crumbly cookies. Obviously we had a lot to learn on how to cook without milk. For a yummy treat, she made these delicious apricot sticky buns. As we were eating them, I noticed that my son started breaking out in hives around his mouth. I looked up at her, and I said, “Do these have milk?” She panicked a little, and said, “No I made sure to only use soy milk and I’ve read all the labels. I even used real butter instead of margarine!” Instant awareness dawned on both of us as we realized where real butter comes from. We both turned to look at my son’s hived-faced smile and made a run for the Benadryl.

Nature’s Alternative to Dairy Products!

I thought that I had become quite well versed at checking labels, until one week my son’s rash was off the charts bad. I went through everything that we had eaten down to the bread and whole wheat crackers. I couldn’t find milk products anywhere. Finally I went to make my son a toasted “soy” cheese sandwich. His innocent baby blue eyes looked up at me and he said, “Mom, did you check the label?” I said, “Of course I did.” He said, “Will you check again?” I said, “Son, it says ‘Nature’s Alternative to Dairy’ right on the front. Of course it doesn’t have milk.” He asked again, “Will you please check the label?” “Fine.” So I looked at the label and sure enough one of the ingredients was “casein.” I had been feeding my son “poison” without even knowing it! This wasn’t the only time a product has been mislabeled misleading innocent consumers like me to buy their product. Cool Whip says “non-dairy” on the label, but it too has “casein.” Always double check the label. When in doubt, call the manufacturer. I did so with microwave popcorn (labeled “natural flavor”) and sure enough, it had milk. Thank goodness I didn’t feed that to my son!