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Are you lactose intolerant, suffering from some kind of milk allergy or want to opt for vegan food products but don’t know how to shop for a dairy-free ingredient? Well, it is not easy because ingredients and food processing are subject to change at any time, meaning once a “safe” ingredient or product may not be “safe” the next time you are at the market to shop. 

Therefore, always read food labels and don’t shy away from asking questions about the ingredients before eating a food item which you have not prepared yourself. If you are suffering from dairy-intolerance or dealing with a severe milk allergy, always check with the producer before the use of any food product.

However, we have prepared a list of dairy-free ingredients that will guide you the next time you go shopping. However, we highly recommend you to do your own research before committing to any brand or purchase of any product and not solely rely on this dairy ingredient list. It is because the list is only proposed for informational purposes.

Unquestionably Dairy Ingredients

Do you know that the most common food allergy in infants and young children is caused by cow’s milk? Nearly 2.5% of children under the age of 3 are allergic to milk. Generally, doctors also recommend avoiding milk from other animals to individuals allergic to cow’s milk.

Milk, in all forms including derivative, condensed, evaporated, dry, goat’s milk and milk from other animals, whether, low-fat, milkfat, malted, non-fat, powder, skimmed, protein solids or whole, is a dairy product and can cause medical issues ranging from mild to severe. So, here is a list of ingredients directly related to dairy.

  • Acidophilus Milk
  • Ammonium Caseinate
  • Butter
  • Butter Fat
  • Butter Oil
  • Butter Solids
  • Buttermilk
  • Buttermilk Powder
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Casein
  • Caseinate (in general)
  • Cheese (All animal-based)
  • Condensed Milk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream
  • Curds
  • Custard
  • Delactosed Whey
  • Demineralized Whey
  • Dry Milk Powder
  • Dry Milk Solids
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Ghee (see page 109 in Go Dairy Free)
  • Goat Cheese
  • Goat Milk
  • Half & Half
  • Hydrolyzed Casein
  • Hydrolyzed Milk Protein
  • Iron Caseinate
  • Lactalbumin
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactose
  • Lactulose
  • Low-Fat Milk
  • Magnesium Caseinate
  • Malted Milk
  • Milk
  • Milk Derivative
  • Milk Fat
  • Milk Powder
  • Milk Protein
  • Milk Solids
  • Natural Butter Flavor
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Nougat
  • Paneer
  • Potassium Caseinate
  • Pudding
  • Recaldent
  • Rennet Casein
  • Sheep Milk
  • Sheep Milk Cheese
  • Skim Milk
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Sour Cream
  • Sour Milk Solids
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Sweet Whey
  • Whey
  • Whey Powder
  • Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Whey Protein Hydrolysate
  • Whipped Cream
  • Whipped Topping
  • Whole Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Zinc Caseinate

Milk in Kosher Foods

Kosher Dairy: 

If a product label carries a letter “D” or word “dairy” following the circled K or U, it means the product contains or is cultured with milk protein. So, must avoid such products in case you have a milk allergy.

Kosher Pareve: 

A food product branded “pareve” is typically considered dairy-free under the kosher dietary law. However, a product is also regarded as pareve even when it comprises a very tiny amount of milk protein, which can potentially be enough to source an allergic reaction in people. So, do not assume that parave products will always be safe and do your research before using.

Potentially Dairy Ingredients

These are ingredients that have high to moderate possibility to be dairy related either due to direct derivation or processing. 

Artificial or Natural Flavors: 

These are ambiguous ingredients, which may or may not be derived from a dairy source. A few specific concerns include artificial butter, egg flavors, and coconut cream.

Luncheon Meat, Hot Dogs and Sausages: 

These meat-based products may use the milk protein casein as a binder.

Fat Replacers:

Some brands tend to use milk protein to replace fat. So, you must read the label and properly investigate a brand committing to it.


This can be derived from gums and sugar beets, but mostly it is a lactose byproduct.

Protein or High Protein:

Ingredients that do not describe any further details may be sourced from milk proteins such as casein or whey. It is particularly common in “High Energy” food products.


Not all, but most brands use milk proteins in margarine.

Milk Substitute Products:

Some products made with milk substitutes such as soy-, nut- or rice-based dairy products may be manufactured using equipment shared with milk. 

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein:

Casein may be used during the processing phase; however, only trace amounts are likely to remain.

Lactic Acid Beginner & Bacterial Cultures:

Many companies use milk as a primary growth medium to prepare these cultures.


This term is often described as a probiotic. However, it is good bacteria and not a food byproduct. This bacteria has the ability to convert simple sugars and lactose to lactic acid, which is why it is named such.

This ingredient is not usually a concern as it is often used in milk products, on its own, to develop lactic acid. But, in some cases, the ingredient may be produced or cultured from dairy, and so, may potentially contain trace amounts.

Butter on Grilled Steaks

Many restaurants use butter on grilled steaks for adding extra flavor which you cannot see as it melts on hot steak.


These are indigestible carbohydrates that improve digestive health and are different from probiotics in no small extent, which are living microorganisms. Some forms of prebiotics, such as lactosucrose, galactooligosaccharides, lactitol, and lactulose, may be sourced from milk-based foods.


Some tuna selling brands contain casein, and sometimes, shellfish is dipped in milk to decrease the fishy odor. So, always questions when buying shellfish.


You may be surprised, but some medications also contain milk protein.

Allergens are not always present in these products and foods. However, milk protein can be surprisingly found in different food products. So, always read product labels and ask questions if you are unsure about any ingredient in an item.

Rarely Dairy Ingredients

Many resources may describe some of these below mentioned “rarely dairy ingredients” as “safe” for milk allergies. However, we have chosen to stay on the cautious side with this ingredient list. It is because the potential for intolerance and extremely sensitive milk allergies seems to be increasing in numbers while the globalization of food supply can generate some unexpected ingredient concerns.

Calcium or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate:

Stearoyl lactylates are produced from the combination of stearic acid and lactic acid. These are generally known to be non-dairy and safe for use by people with milk allergies and lactose intolerance. However, stearic acid sometimes may be animal-sourced, which can be a concern.

Lactic Acid:

Lactic acid is produced through fermentation of different sugars and can be typically found in many vegan and dairy-free foods. Most commercially used lactic acid comes from carbohydrates, such as potatoes, cornstarch, or molasses, which makes its dairy-free. Though lactic acid can also be sourced from lactose, however, it is mostly used in dairy products, such as cream cheese and ice cream. However, it entirely depends on the manufacturer. 

Sodium, Calcium, or Potassium Lactate:

Lactates are derived from lactic acid neutralization, and rarely, are a dairy concern. However, some brands may contain dairy-based lactates.

Caramel Color:

People usually associated caramel products with dairy but caramel color is generally produced from corn syrup and sometimes from wheat, potatoes and different carbohydrate sources. Though, lactose is an allowed carbohydrate for producing caramel color but is rarely ever used.

Surprisingly Dairy-Free Ingredients

As milk and most milk products contain dairy ingredients. So people also wonder about ingredients like Calcium or sodium lactate and whether they are dairy free or not. However, these ingredients do not contain milk protein and are entirely safe to eat.

  • Calcium Propionate
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium Citrate
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Cream
  • Cream of Coconut
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Creamed Honey
  • Fruit Butter (Apple, Pumpkin, etc.)
  • Glucono Delta-Lactone
  • Lecithin Oleoresin
  • Malted Barley or other Grain-Based Malts
  • Malt Liquor
  • Malt Vinegar
  • Milk Thistle
  • Nut Butters (Peanut, Almond, etc.)
  • Shea Butter

Here concludes our list of the dairy-free ingredients list. So, next time you are shopping, you know what to buy and what not to. However, we again recommend you to do your own research because the list is for informational purposes only and not a medically approved one.

So, if you have food allergies of any kind, sensitivities, or intolerances, then ask your doctor for guidance and pay diligence in consumption of manufactured food.