Lucy's Friendly Foods

Dairy-allergy, why does it confuse so much?

Of all my daughters’ allergies their cow’s milk allergy is the one that causes the most confusion, and probably also the most accidental exposures to an allergen. Maybe it’s because you can refer to it in so many ways – is can be a dairy-allergy but then some people presume dairy includes eggs, or a milk allergy and then people aren’t sure if that includes cheese, or the official term, cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) but then your average person will feel confused about the complexity of the message. 

This is all under the backdrop of a dairy-allergy being the one that causes the most serious reactions, making it all the more important to get the right info across. For great tips on the differences between a cow’s milk protein allergy and lactose intolerance check out this article from Allergy UK

I can’t tell you how many times we get offered a gluten-free menu or item in response to a request for dairy-free. It seems crazy but somehow people think offering gluten-free covers everything else – maybe it’s because gluten-free has a certain ‘glamour’ and desirability (it seems by the amount of people who think GF is a lifestyle choice, there is certainly no glamour to being gf by necessity). Then I have to say we have come across a certain gf contingent who see their gf dietary needs as superior and more important, this was very clear at the allergy and free from show where many visitors almost scoffed at my cookbook when they found my focus was not gf. I understand the implications of celiac disease but in my mind the immediate massive potential danger of consuming an allergen is not something that should be minimised. 

Then there’s the lactose-free issue. If we’re not offered gluten-free then lactose-free is offered. Then comes the mini lecture from me that an allergy is to the protein not the sugar which is lactose! Also, because you get plenty of people who like to avoid dairy sometimes, but are happy to indulge at others, that adds another complication. Surely because my friend X avoids dairy but will have a pizza then it must be ok for you?

Dairy is also where our most hiccups in avoiding allergens have occurred – in chocolate, in puddings in restaurants, hidden in crisps or drinks on holidays, in the air in coffee shops. We now rarely trust a pudding in a restaurant…

How is it for you? I’d there one allergen that causes more issues than the rest? Do you find dairy equally tricky? 

2 Responses

  1. Well said Lucy! A dairy allergy is by far the most challenging one! Ice cream, butter, yogourt, cheese, chocolate…people forget that these items also contain dairy!

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