Dairy allergies

Hello fellow sufferers.

Seems I cannot take dairy products anymore.

I can tolerate goat’s milk for my morning coffee and partake of a little goat’s cheese on a cracker when I crave a snack.

A question for the folks out there - forgive me if this question has been done to death before - I am newly allergic to dairy products and also relatively new to this board.

I say newly allergic as I have never had a problem before. Now I cannot take anything with cow’s milk.

My questions are:

What are the differences between cow’s milk and goat milk? Is it some sort of enzyme in the cow’s milk that is not present in goat’s milk?

Could I try a “low” or “non” lactose milk? Would that lessen my allergy?

I also react to cheese. Is there a particular cheese with a lower “milk” product that I can try?

Chocolate also seems to make me sensitive - this may be the end of my life.

Are there any folks out there with similar problems? How do you deal with them?

The milk and cheese I can maybe deal with…the chocolate problem makes me die!

I think you’ll get a better response in a different forum – but I’m not sure which one. Let’s try General Questions to start with.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

Just to clarify - are you allergic to cow’s milk or lactose intolerant? It’s important to know the difference.

Lactose intolerant means you can no longer digest the lactose in milk. This means you should have problems with ALL milk products regardless of source. However, there are lactase tablets sold that can help you digest dairy IF that is the case.

If, however, you are allergic cow’s milk that is a different problem. It has nothing to do with “enzymes”, the problem is that you are reacting to cow protein. There is no tablet to take to help you with it. “Low” and “no” lactose milk isn’t going to help because in this case it’s not the lactose that is the problem, it is the cow protein.

From what you describe, I suspect it’s a cow allergy, as you state you tolerate goat’s milk.

What that means is no more dairy from COWS. You can drink goat’s milk. You can eat goat cheese. You can eat sheep cheese. That is because goat and sheep milk don’t contain cow proteins. (There’s your answer on cheese). You can not consume yogurt that is made from cow’s milk, including frozen yogurt and things like tziki sauce (that white stuff on gyros sandwhiches).

You are going to have to read labels from now on. In addition to “milk” you have to watch out for words like “whey” and “casein”, which are also derived from cow’s milk and contain the offending proteins. You will have to educate yourself about condiments, some of which contain milk products (such as the above mentioned greek sauce). You will need to avoid cream soups, many or most gravies unless made explicitly without milk, and cheese sauces which are also almost universally made with cow’s milk.

As Jews are particular about mixing dairy with meat, you might want to check out the kosher foods at your local grocery as they are quite explicit about what does and does not contain dairy.

Chocolate is giving you a problem because most chocolate is milk chocolate, meaning there is milk of cow origin in it. That is why it is giving you a problem. You will need to find chocolate that is NOT milk chocolate. For example, if you make hot cocoa from scratch you will need chocolate that doesn’t have milk in it and use goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk to make it.

Broomstick has it right, although I need to nitpick one line.

Cow, goat, and sheep’s milk contain many of the same proteins but not all. Goat has a different total set of protein that don’t contain some of the cow’s milk proteins that are the most commonly allergenic. All allergies are immune system reactions to foreign proteins.

Goat milk contains just as much lactose as cow’s milk. This is true no matter how many idiot sites you can find on the Internet touting goat’s milk that say otherwise. If you can tolerate goat’s milk you are not lactose intolerant.

There are many, many sites on the Internet that will give you good information on living without dairy. Some of them are allergy-specific, some are vegan, some are for those who keep kosher.

A couple of sites I trust:

Alisa’s Fleming’s Go Dairy Free (www.godairyfree.org), where you can buy lists of foods that don’t contain milk and get information on products and cookbooks and much more.

Steve Carper’s Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse (www.stevecarper.com/li) which goes beyond just LI and has lists of non-dairy milk alternative products, all the dairy-free cookbooks available through Amazon, and a large links page for more searching.

What reaction are you having? As others have pointed out an allergy is an error in the immune system. That means the body is producing antibodies to an otherwise normal substance, that should not produce them.

If you’re having bloat and gas and such from dairy products this is different.

Both things can come on at any age, and both can come, stick around for awhile and leave. True allergies can do this.

Also have you been checked out by your doctor lately. An intolerance to dairy is not unusual, but in some cases can be a health problem like a digestive conditon. I don’t mean to scare you because likely it’s nothing but if you haven’t been to a doctor in awhile, it’d be worth a visit anyway, just to make sure.

Thank you all so much for your kind and informative replies.

An allergy test suggests that I have a real reaction to cow’s milk (i.e. all dairy from bovines) and not just an intolerence.

I had previously thought about an intolerence as a partner of mine was from overseas and was very unused to partaking of any quantities of milk and cheese.

I, however had enjoyed all dairy products my whole life. And indeed consumed them in quantity until recently; until then I thought I was consuming healthful products.

What happened was that I suddenly started to get severe ear infections. I had burst ear drums and very ugly discharges from my ears. Had to have antibiotics, wicks, tubes and sinus flushing - Likely TMI.

To cut a long and painful story short - I saw an ENT specialist and then an allergist and was told by the allergist to stop with all dairy (cow) products.

I think I am so much better - It is hard to quantify in a short time.

I still use a couple of tbsps of goat milk for my coffee. But have ceased all other cheese, milk, cream etc.

My ears still itch almost to the point of cutting them off. But on the plus side, there is no longer a malodorous, green discharge on a daily basis.

Things have improved a lot and I am happier.

So all in all good from my last post.

However, I would kill for a chocolate truffle…



Hie thee to the Chocolate Emporium. Many truffles and all their chocolates are dairy-free.

Or you could try the truffles at OhNuts.

How about the UK Just Truffles Online?

Or Chocolate Decadence?

Googling will produce many recipes for dairy-free chocolate truffles as well as these chocolate shops.

You can get anything dairy-free these days. Chocolate is probably one of the things that are closest to the originals, since most dark chocolate is dairy-free in the first place, even normal store brands.


I think I love you.

Are you free to marry me?

(PS. I am female - but what the hell - for those sites I will marry just about anyone!)



this is news to me, I have no issue at all to goat or sheep cheese but I am 100% dairy intolerant and have been for almost 20 years. the same with a few relatives and friends of mine. I would love to see an actual cite to back up this claim since it goes counter to everything I experience when it comes to dairy intolerance.

Cheese is produced by fermenting milk (normally whey, milk solids). The part that ferments is the lactose, but it’s more fermented in more aged cheese. Goat and sheep cheeses are normally aged or very aged, whereas many cow cheeses aren’t; that is, many cow cheeses contain amounts of lactose which can be enough to trigger someone’s intolerance, whereas goat and sheep cheeses usually won’t.

Would a site called Goatworld do?

Constituent Human Cow Goat 
Protein 1.2 3.3 3.4 
Lactose 7.0 4.8 4.7 
Fat 3.8 3.8 4.1 
Ash (minerals) 0.21 0.71 0.77 
Total solids 12.4 12.8 13.0 

Now, there is no such thing as dairy intolerance. You are either lactose intolerant or have an allergy to dairy protein. Lactose intolerance is a genetic condition. Normally, all humans along with all other mammals with lactose in their milk have a gene that stops the production of lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose, at around the time of weaning. However, a simple mutation on one gene results in the signal never being sent out (or sent out much later than childhood). This mutation is a dominant one and is strongly selected for in populations that do herding and milking. Because northern and western Europeans have high levels of this mutation and have colonized the rest of the earth lactose tolerance seems normal to most Americans.

But what is lactose intolerance? The term is used both for having the particular unmutated gene and for getting symptoms after having lactose-containing food. These are not at all synonymous. Many factors affect symptoms. Naturally low-lactose foods like yogurt and better trigger fewer symptoms. Lactose eaten as part of a large meal triggers fewer symptoms. Having the right kind of bacteria in the colon, the kind that digests lactose, will result in fewer symptoms. As Nava quite correctly says, aged cheeses have little to no lactose at all as a result of the manufacturing process so they can often be eaten with impunity.

Dairy allergies are equally complex. A true allergy is mediated by the IgE set of antibodies. These allergies are the ones that may trigger anaphylactic shock and are the ones that get so much attention, because micro or nano amounts of protein can trigger them. Some people react to having dairy touch them. However, not all allergies are this powerful. Some cause hives or breathing difficulties or other issues and require greater amounts of ingestion. In addition, another set of reactions are mediated by the IgG or other antibody groups. Some people call these allergies, other distinguish them by calling them hypersensitivities. They cause a wholly different set of symptoms, which come on at a much slower rate. They can even cause digestive distress which mimics the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

So I have no idea what you have or what you think you have or what tests, if any, you took to think that way. The only thing I’m sure of is that you don’t have dairy intolerance. It doesn’t exist.

You may find you can take Carnation Evaporated Milk. It’s treated to a higher temperature than the others and you may find that the particular chemical which is giving you problems is destroyed in Carnation. Another alternative for cream is a milk substitute made from coconuts. Alas I forget the brand name. It’s the perfect match for crumbles.

Since you are allergic rather than intolerant, know that there’s a good possibility that you will grow out of it in your late 30s or early 40s.

Also, are you underweight?

I know of no reason why evaporated milk would have any less milk protein, which is the “chemical” responsible for allergies. Nothing is removed from the milk except for water. Hence the name.

Children below the age of five often do grow out of their allergies. Again, I know of nothing that states that adults grow out of allergies.

Double cite, please.

Not necessarily so. It can be a cow chemical responsible, which is why some people can take milk from sheep or goats.

As it was explained to me by the doctor who treated me, Carnation is / was treated to a higher temperature. This destroys some extra chemicals.

The doctor who treated me. He did not claim that it was a 100% thing. I do not propose to detail my medical history.

Either your doctor is a quack or, more likely, you didn’t understand the explanation.

Neither lactose intolerance nor dairy allergy is affected by heating, or else products like ultra high temperature pasteurized milk would be safe. And it isn’t.

And stop saying “chemical.” That’s a meaningless word. If there is a specific component involved, name it.

Sorry, but half-remembered “things my doctor might have told me” aren’t cites. And if you are remembering correctly, get a new doctor, fast.

I can come up with a scenario which would make it possible for someone to tolerate evaporated milk and not tolerate UHT, but that does not mean Quartz’s information is correct, simply because it’s too incomplete.

UHT is treated at a very high temperature for a very, very short time specifically to avoid denaturing its proteins.

IF evaporated milk is heated at high temperatures for long enough that proteins become appreciably denatured,
and IF the trigger for John Doe’s allergy to a cow-milk-protein (not to “a cow chemical,” please, as Exapno said - dihydrogen monoxide is “a cow chemical” but I sure do hope Quartz isn’t allergic to it) requires the protein to be in its natural configuration,
THEN John Doe would be able to have evaporated milk without triggering his allergies (or triggering them less than with normal or UHT milk).

But those are two big IFs. Note that different people with cow-milk-protein allergies can be allergic to different cow-milk-proteins, which would get denatured in different amounts, so it would be possible for John Doe to be allergic to cow-milk-proteins and able to drink evaporated milk, whereas his brother Mike Doe breaks into a rash from being in a kitchen in which someone is cooking with evaporated milk. “I can have evaporated milk even though I’m allergic to regular cow milk” is acceptable as an anecdote but not as a medical recommendation.

Please don’t put words in my mouth; these are not half-remembered things, thank you.

Then get a new doctor. I’m completely serious. You shouldn’t be seeing someone that ignorant of facts relating to a condition you have.

Nava, your ifs are wrong. If the milk were heat-treated long enough to destroy the proteins it wouldn’t taste like milk. It wouldn’t even be milk, but a sludge thing. Remember, you can boil milk or bake it in a recipe for hours at 450 and not affect the proteins in any way. Evaporated milk does have a slight caramelizing effect from the heat on the sugar, but that does not remove all the sugar either.

What Quartz said is wrong in every way. If he’s just getting it wrong without admitting it, then a search on any milk facts site would be enough to set him straight. But he insists that a supposedly qualified doctor said these things. And that’s scary.

Dp not reliy on this information without confrimation; I’m simply reporting my memory of something read some years back.

But it’s my understanding that the constituents of yak milk (Bos grunniens) are suffiently different from those of cow’s milk (B. bovis) that many people who are “allergic to cow’s milk” cab safely consume yaks’-milk products, which are available from a few sources. It would of course depend on the specific alle4rgy – but if my memory is accurate and if your particular condition is one where protein content differs sufficiently, this could be useful to you.

As noted, I’m reporting a memory of something I read years back, and have neither source nor cite for i6. Take the information for what value it might be.

I haven’t seen him for years. I, unfortunately, did not grow out of my allergies. A course of treatment from him sorted me out. I am not going to go into details.

I don’t recall you being a doctor. I also don’t recall you being a published expert in allergies. He is both. In this matter I’ll take his word over yours any day.