Ask the allergist is a regular feature where Canadian allergists answer your questions!
Please note: The allergists featured in this series answer questions on general topics, please talk to your doctor if you have questions about your own health or the health of your child.
This month Dr. Julia Upton answers a question about milk allergy and probiotics.
If I have milk allergy, do I need to avoid probiotics?
It depends on the type of probiotic supplement you are considering.
Probiotics can come from a variety of sources, including live cultures in dairy products like yogurt, and some probiotic supplements may contain milk proteins or other milk components. However, there are also many non-dairy sources of probiotics, such as certain strains of bacteria and yeast, that can be safely consumed by people with milk allergy.
Read the labels of probiotics containing foods and supplements to check that there are no milk-based ingredients. This includes reviewing any “dairy free” and “milk free” statements as well as any “may contain” statements for milk. If you have any questions about a product, contact the manufacturer.
Probiotic supplements have not been extensively studied for their safety and effectiveness, however, there is existing guidance from Health Canada.
Note from Food Allergy Canada: With the new amendments to the Natural Health Products Regulations announced in 2022, the labelling of priority food allergens is now required on the labels of these products, which include probiotics. While all ingredients of natural health products need to be listed on the label, there is a new requirement to highlight food allergens in a special “Allergen” section on the label starting in 2025 although changes may be seen sooner. Manufacturers will have until 2028 for full compliance.
Dr. Julia Upton is on staff at the Hospital for Sick Children in the Immunology and Allergy Department; and an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is the past Section Chair of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Section of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Upton is also a member of our Healthcare Advisory Board.
Please note: Dr. Upton is answering as an individual allergist and her answers do not constitute an official position of her affiliated organizations. Her responses are for informational purposes only and do not constitute specific medical advice, recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have regarding your own health or the health of your child.
Do you have a food allergy-related question you’d like to ask an allergist in the months to come? If so, send it along to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: ask the allergist, milk allergy, reading food labels