Finding Dairy in Unlikely Places

When we found out that Asa had allergies, the first one we discovered was dairy. My initial thought was, “Well I guess she can’t have milk or ice cream or yogurt.” But the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized dairy was in everything! It’s hard enough to navigate food items, but I had never even thought about the non-food items that dairy could also be hiding in. I still find out new things every day. So where are some of these milk ingredients hidden, you may ask? Well… let’s look at a few!

First, it’s important to note that dairy can come in multiple forms so it’s imperative to know all the words you are looking for. Milk, lactose, Recaldent, casein, whey, and lactalbumin are all dairy ingredients, so it’s not just as simple as looking for “milk” on a label. Also, “lactose free” and “dairy free” are two VERY different things. A lactose intolerance is NOT the same as a dairy allergy and the two should never be confused. And just because something is “lactose free” does not mean it doesn’t still contain dairy/milk!

But if a label says “dairy free” it should be safe, right? Not quite. This is crazy to me, but some things can be labeled “dairy free” and still contain milk ingredients. Take coffee creamers for example. Many of them say they are dairy free but still actually contain milk. See the pictures below of this Coffeemate French Vanilla Creamer:

The first picture shows the “Non-dairy” claim while the second picture shows that it contains casein, “a milk derivative”. The one shows the importance of checking the ENTIRE label, no matter what!

So what about those non-food related things? A friend actually sent me this one the other day and I was appalled to find I had this one in my house! Thankfully I had never used it with Asa, but our older daughter has used them multiples times. She doesn’t have food allergies so we were safe there, but the thought that I could have used these with Asa without thinking terrified me. Crayola Color Bath Dropz contain lactose! Again, this label is super tricky. The ingredients do not list lactose. They legally don’t have to since this is not a food product. (Don’t get me started on the laws here. I’m saving that whole topic for another blog.) But a closer inspection of the box shows that it does, indeed, contain lactose. *It’s important to note that I have the box but most of these come in a tub so be on the lookout regardless of the packaging!

I read a story once of a girl dying from using a medicated toothpaste that her dentist had prescribed to her. This dentist knew about her milk allergy but still prescribed it anyway. Several whitening and medicated toothpastes contain an ingredient called Recaldent. This is made of a milk derivative. If you have a food allergy, it’s important to not only talk to your dentist about any allergies you may have, but ask them to see the ingredients before you begin using any new products!

Recaldent is not only found in these toothpastes, however. It’s also found in a very popular gum brand – Trident! It is not in every version, but it is definitely found in Trident White and Trident XtraCare.

Another weird place to find a milk ingredient is in dust-free chalk. Many of the name brands do not contain the dairy ingredient, casein, but some off-brands do. This can be scary because, again, they do not have to list this on the package since chalk is not a food product. You can always contact the manufacturer to get specific ingredient information, but this isn’t always an easy or quick task. Casein can also be found in glues, paints, and inks.

I hope this blog is as eye-opening to you as it was for me when I learned about these things. I only scratched the surface here, as dairy can also be found in daily things like cosmetics and lotions where, once again, they don’t have to be labeled. Navigating a dairy allergy is a lot more than simply avoiding that 2% gallon of milk most people have in their fridge. It’s something that requires you to be be vigilant daily to avoid a major catastrophe!

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