Safety Issues

Some small markets or independent farmers still sell raw milk. Because it has not been pasteurized, this milk may contain germs that make you ill. For that reason, the sale of raw milk is often prohibited by law, depending on location.

For some people, proteins in cow's milk may trigger allergic reactions. Whey proteins (beta-lactoglobulin and beta-lact-albumin) and casein are the primary proteins that trigger allergic reactions. Symptoms of a milk allergy may include nasal congestion, hives, itching, swelling, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, upset

stomach, cramps, heartburn, gas or diarrhea, light-headedness, and fainting.

It is easy to confuse a milk allergy with another common health concern related to dairy foods — lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance (see page 347) also can lead to nausea, vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. However, if you have lactose intolerance, you usually can eat small amounts of dairy food without problems. In contrast, a tiny amount of a food to which you are allergic can trigger a reaction.

If you suspect that you have any food allergies, see your physician. You may then be referred to an allergist for a careful evaluation. This generally includes a medical history, physical examination, and skin or blood testing. If the diagnosis is a milk allergy, it is essential to eliminate milk and foods made with milk from your diet (see sidebar: Milk Allergy: Hidden Ingredients, page 349).

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