Can you drink milk if you have a beef allergy?

It seems intuitively reasonable — if you’re allergic to beef then you should stay away from cow’s milk, right? Not necessarily. Although most food allergies are related to animal protein, cross-contamination is rare. This means that if you are allergic to eggs, you can still eat chicken; and if you are allergic to fish, you can still drink a glass of milk [source: AAAAI]. Simply put, you won’t have a dairy allergic reaction if you have a beef allergy. So go ahead, enjoy your milkshake with your soy burger! However, you may not need to use those soy burgers. If you are allergic to beef, try eating game meat, which is lower in fat and higher in essential fatty acids than traditional beef. Game meat also doesn’t cause as much damage to your intestinal tract as compared to traditional beef [source: Food-allergy.org].

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It’s important to consider, however, that adult and child food allergies are not always the same. In fact, one study showed that 93 percent of children with a beef allergy also have a cow’s milk allergy [Martelli et al.]. Therefore, cross-contamination of cow’s milk and beef protein in children often occurs, so children who are allergic to beef should avoid consuming milk and dairy products. After puberty, allergy testing can determine if this cross-contamination is still present.

Although cross-contamination between two animal proteins is rare, it is not uncommon for people with a milk allergy to experience allergic symptoms when eating beef. Processed meats sometimes contain dairy ingredients for flavor or as a binder. For example, milk is commonly used in making chicken nuggets. Moreover, other types of processed meat, such as lunch meat and hot dogs, generally use milk as an ingredient [source: Food Standards Agency].

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