Serving Customers with Milk Allergies


As with any food allergy, a milk allergy can be life-threatening. So if a customer indicates that he or she has a milk allergy, be sure that the server, shift manager and cooks know the customer’s meal will have to be prepared separately. It is important that no milk proteins come into contact with that guest’s meal, or else an allergic reaction could occur. When preparing the meal, make sure all of the ingredients do not contain any milk or milk protein derivatives.

Lactose Intolerance is Not a Milk Allergy

Lactose intolerance is an inability for the person’s digestive system to dissolve a sugar present in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance afflicts between 30 and 50 million Americans. People who with milk intolerance will experience mild to severe discomfort as their body fails to digest lactose, but the condition is not life-threatening. Milk allergies are potentially life-threatening.

Ingredients to Avoid

When preparing a meal for a customer with milk allergies, also be sure that the ingredients also do not contain any of these products:

Whey Powder/Protein
Lactic Acid
Whey Syrup
Cheese Flavor

*Information in this table compiled from the Food Allergy Initiative’s Website on Milk Allergies

Milk Alternatives

  • Baking recipes. When baking or cooking, either water or fruit juice can be substituted for milk in the recipe.
  • Non-dairy Milk. Soy, rice and almond milk are also non-dairy milk substitutions. Just make sure the customer does not have a nut or soy allergy before substituting.

Do Not Substitute Goat or Sheep Milk

Most people who are allergic to cow milk are also allergic to goat and sheep milk. So do not use these as a substitute for cow’s milk.


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