Milk allergen control in food manufacturing with AlerTox Total Milk

Milk. It’s used as an ingredient across consumer goods ranging from cheese to make-up. Since milk is one of the major allergens, control for milk allergens in food production has to be a priority in safety plans for manufacturers.

In any shared facility, hazard control for allergens is a challenge, especially in cleaning procedures for equipment. For instance, meat slicers are frequently used for both meat and cheese products. Some specialty products made with milk substitutes (i.e., soy-, nut- or rice-based dairy products) are manufactured on equipment shared with milk and can present that additional challenge.

The difference between Milk allergy and Dairy.

Milk proteins are an ingredient in many of the products found in the Dairy aisle; it’s no wonder that a Milk allergy is sometimes referred to as a Dairy allergy (although there is no such thing). The term dairy allergy can often confuse consumers, since eggs are often located in proximity to milk products. But when it comes to labeling, you’ll find that there is no requirement to label dairy as an ingredient. Instead, FALPCA milk is required to be listed as an ingredient.

Want to know more about Milk vs. Dairy vs. Lactose? Read the F.A.R.E. article.

Milk is composed of several proteins that aren’t found in any other living tissue. The two major groups of proteins found in milk are caseins and whey proteins. Although there are several types of caseins, the molecules are similar in structure. The major whey proteins in cow milk are beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin.  (Read more at University of Illinois Dept of Animal Sciences)

Since these proteins are abundant in and specific to milk, they make an ideal target in testing. The proteins are similar across species; an allergic reaction to cow’s milk usually correlates with reactions to goat and sheep milk.

Milk protein can be found in unexpected places.

Milk proteins are frequently used as ingredients in cosmetics and carriers for medicines. These products can also cause allergic responses in milk-sensitive patients.

  • Some brands of canned tuna fish contain casein.
  • Many non-dairy products contain casein.
  • Some meats may contain casein as a binder.
  • Shellfish is sometimes dipped in milk to reduce the fishy odor.
  • Some medications contain milk protein.

People allergic to milk often have questions about the following ingredients. These ingredients do not contain milk protein and do not need to be restricted by someone avoiding milk:

Calcium lactate
Calcium stearoyl lactylate
Cocoa butter
Cream of tartar
Lactic acid (however, lactic acid starter culture may contain milk)
Oleoresin
Sodium lactate
Sodium stearoyl lactylate

Did you know?

  • Most individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk are likely to be allergic to milk from other animals like goats or sheep.
  • The blood proteins present in cow’s milk are also present in meat (beef). These proteins are not the major allergenic proteins in milk, but for around 10% of milk allergic patients, allergy to milk goes together with allergy to beef.
  • 1 in 5 children with cow’s milk allergy will also have a food allergy reaction to veal.

AlerTox Sticks Total Milk: Rapid analytical test kits ensuring milk-free food production
AlerTox Sticks Total Milk is a professional analytical test specially designed to help food manufacturers assure food safety and minimize risk of recalls. AlerTox Sticks Total Milk is based on the simultaneous detection of casein and beta-lactoglobulin in a single test, which are the most abundant milk proteins. Since the proteins found in cow, sheep and goat milk are 85% identical they have the same allergic potential.

The assay tracks possible cross contact at any step of the production process from raw ingredients to finished products, including surface testing. It is user-friendly, accurate, and robust. The test is highly sensitive and has a limit of detection of 2,5 ppm. No special equipment or previous experience is required; the kits are easy to use, rapid and accurate.