Gerbs Allergy Hub - Dairy Allergens


80% of children with a milk allergy outgrow it before they turn 16 years old!


  • The term dairy encompasses animal milk and milk products such as cheese, ice cream, butter, yogurt, etc. In the United States, dairy allergy most commonly references cow’s milk.
  • Cow’s milk allergy is the most common allergy in early childhood, and typically develops two months after first exposure- usually between the ages of 1 and 2.
  • GI symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, cramps, vomiting) are most common after ingestion, followed by skin symptoms (hives, swelling, itching) and anaphylaxis.
  • Milk allergy cross-reactivity is common, those allergic to cow’s milk will also likely be allergic to goat, buffalo, and/or camel milk, etc.
  • It’s important to distinguish a dairy allergy, which involves the immune system, from a sensitivity like lactose intolerance, which is attributable to an enzyme deficiency (i.e. lactase).

Common (and Hidden!) Sources

  • Animal milk in all forms (dried, powdered, condensed, etc), cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream/gelato, cream, custard, pudding, half and half, ghee.
  • Watch out for these ingredients on labels: casein, diacetyl, lactose, lactalbumin, lactoferrin, lactulose, and whey in all forms.
  • Commonly found in: baked goods, caramel, chocolate, lunch meat, margarine, nisin, nougat, artificial butter flavor, vegetarian meat alternatives, au gratin/creamy dishes, cereal, donuts, salad dressings, mashed potatoes.

replacing dairy in recipes

1. Vandenplas Y, De Greef E, Devreker T. Treatment of Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2014;17(1):1-5. doi:10.5223/pghn.2014.17.1.1.
2. Fiocchi A, Brozek J, Schünemann H, et al. World Allergy Organization (WAO) Diagnosis and Rationale for Action against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines. World Allergy Organ J. 2010;3(4):57-161. doi:10.1097/WOX.0b013e3181defeb9.