Allergy to milk is regarded as the most common food allergy in the US, affecting roughly 2.5% of children and 0.3% of adults. Allergies to milk can manifest as a variety of symptoms ranging from skin rashes, intestinal complaints, and anaphylaxis. The milk proteins of most clinical significance include beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) and casein, though there are additional proteins in milk that are known to cause food allergies as well. Allergies to BLG occur predominantly in children whereas adults are more commonly allergic to casein.
For public health safety reasons, the FDA requires that foods containing significant amounts of milk protein must be labeled as such. On this basis, companies producing non-dairy food products need to confirm that their food items do not contain milk allergen residues, which can be inadvertently introduced via contaminated ingredients as well as through cross contamination from other foods produced in line. For example, BLG is routinely added to infant formulas, shake drinks, and protein supplements.
Casein, which comprises ~80% of total milk protein, is generally found in meat products, baked goods, snack foods, fruit juices, wine, dairy products, soups, and sauces. Non-dairy foods produced in-line with these dairy-containing food items should be routinely tested for the presence of milk allergen residues to ensure that they are dairy-free..
IEH can provide rapid, quantitative testing of food items and swab samples for the presence of beta-lactoglobulin and casein.