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Milk and soya avoidance

A cow’s milk and soya free diet involves the complete avoidance of cow’s milk and soya milk. This will be necessary if your child has, or is suspected to have, a cow’s milk and soya intolerance or allergy.

Infant formula derived from goat’s milk is not suitable for infants under 12 months of age. Milk from goats and sheep has a similar protein to cow’s milk and in most cases may cause the same symptoms, and so is best avoided.

The diet excludes obvious and hidden sources of cow’s milk and soya (for example butter, cheese, cream, yoghurt, soya desserts and soya margarine). The following are terms for cow’s milk or soya, and foods containing them should be avoided.


Easily recognisable source of cow’s milk:

  • butter
  • cheese
  • cow’s milk
  • cream

Cow’s milk ingredients to be avoided:

  • butter fat
  • lactose
  • buttermilk
  • milk solids
  • casein or caseinates
  • non-fat milk solids
  • hydrolysed caseinates
  • skimmed milk powder
  • sodium caseinate
  • whey
  • curd
  • ghee
  • lactoglobulin
  • whey powder
  • whey powder or sugar
  • whey powder or sweetener


Easily recognisable source of Soya:

  • soy or soyabean
  • soya milk or formula
  • soya yoghurts
  • soya desserts
  • soya flour
  • soya protein
  • soy sauce
  • tofu

Soya ingredients to be avoided:

  • miso
  • tempeh
  • edamame
  • textured vegetable -protein (tvp)
  • vegetable gum (soya)
  • vegetable starch (soya)
  • thickener (soya)
  • emulsifier (soya)
  • bulking agent (soya)
  • soya protein isolate
  • soya protein concentrate
  • hydrolysed vegetable -protein
  • soya lecithin
  • soyabean oil*

*Soya bean oil and soy(a) lecithin are usually tolerated by children with soya allergies. Check with your dietitian if you are not sure about products containing these ingredients.

Food manufacturers must state the presence of cow’s milk and soya in a product. Carefully check the labels of any foods that you buy every time for the presence of cow’s milk and soya in the ingredients list, even if you have bought that product before. The term ‘natural flavourings’ on a food label can mean that they are milk or soya based flavourings, this should be declared on the label for example ‘natural flavouring (milk and soya)’.

Food items that do not have food labels, or foods sold loose may contain milk, soya, milk, soya derivatives, or may have come into contact with milk, soya products and so should be avoided. Such examples include bakery items, deli items and butchers products.

Milk substitutes

Cow’s milk and soya milk provide protein, calcium and energy in the diet. If your child is unable to take cow’s milk, soya milk or cows milk or soya based formula they will need a milk substitute. There are several cow’s milk and soya free formulas available on prescription for children under two years of age.

You can use the milk substitutes in cereal and in cooking. If your child will not drink enough of the milk substitute they may need a calcium supplement. Discuss this with your Dietitian.

Rice milk, oat milk and some other milk alternatives are low in energy, protein, and nutrients, and not all substitute milks have added calcium. These should not be used for young children unless advised by your Doctor/Dietitian.

Make sure you arrange regular follow up with your doctor and dietitian. As your child gets older, your doctor will let you know when it is safe to challenge your child with cow’s milk and soya. Food challenges are important to check if the diet is still needed, however do not challenge foods until directed by your doctor.

Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Oat Milk
    • Oatly
    • Oat Dream
  • Rice Milk (under 4 years old)
    • Provamel
    • Rice Dream
  • Almond Milk
  • Hazelnut Milk
  • Coconut milk
    • Kara
  • Instant custards
  • Cow’s milk
  • Goat’s milk
  • Sheep milk
  • Soya milk
  • Formula milk (unless prescribed by doctor or dietitian)
  • Evaporated milk
  • Condensed milk
  • Soya formula
  • Dairy and soya free yoghurts
    • “Wot no dairy” (Redwood Company)
  • Yoghurt
  • Fromage frais
  • Soya yoghurt
  • Mousse
  • Dairy and soya free cheese
    • Cheezly soya free
  • Birds custard powder (made with suitable milk alternative)
  • Cheese
  • Cheese spread
  • Soya cheese
  • Water based ice lollies
  • Dairy and soya free ice-cream
    • Bessant and Druys
  • Ice-cream
  • Soya desserts
  • Soya custards
  • Soya ice cream

Meat, fish and alternatives

Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Fresh and frozen meat including beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey
  • Sliced Meats
  • Tinned meats
  • Meat Paste
  • Fresh and frozen fish including cod, haddock, tuna, salmon
  • Tinned fish in brine, sunflower oil, or spring water
  • Value fish fingers from Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys
  • Tinned fish in sauce
  • Fish fingers
  • Fish cakes
  • Fish in sauce
  • Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausages from Asda and Tesco
  • Sausages
  • Sausage rolls
  • Pies and pastries
  • Beef burgers (Birds Eye only)
  • Other burgers
  • Value burgers
  • Crispy chicken dippers and nuggets (Birds Eye only)
  • Other chicken products
  • Chicken Kievs
  • Pulses and Legumes (except soya)
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Soyabeans
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Scrambled eggs with milk

Bread and cereal products

Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Baby rice cereal
  • Plain rice
  • Flour (made from wheat, corn, rice, potato)
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Oats, cornmeal, sago, semolina, tapioca, barley, bran
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Instant porridge
  • Soya flour
  • Homemade biscuits and cakes made from allowed ingredients
  • Sweet biscuits
  • Dry cracker biscuits
  • Muesli bars
  • Snack bars
  • Bought cakes, scones, pastries
  • Rusks cake or biscuit mixes
  • Milk and soya free bread such as:
    • Finest Wholemeal bread or Farmhouse
    • Stoneground Wholemeal
    • Wheatfield Wholemeal Batch
    • Hovis Granary Wholemeal bread
    • Tesco Ciabatta bread
  • Bread (may contain soya flour)
  • English muffins
  • Crumpets, wraps and Pitta breads such as:
    • Kingsmill, Asda crumpets, Tesco and Asda pittas
    • Tesco, Asda, Discovery, Mission Deli tortilla wraps
  • Other brands of crumpets, wraps and Pitta breads
  • Pancakes

Fruits and vegetables

Allowed To check Not allowed
Vegetables Tinned or packet vegetables
Fruit (fresh, dried, frozen)

Fruit Juice

Fruit bars
Potato waffles from Asda, Tesco and Bird’s Eye Potato waffles, croquettes, potato shapes Instant mash
Canned soups


Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Nuts
  • Flavoured nuts
  • Crisps:
    • Seabrook Canadian Ham, seasalted
    • Walkers Squares (salt & vinegar)
    • Asda ready salted
    • Pringles original
    • Tesco ready salted
    • Kettle Chips (lightly salted and seasalt and balsamic vinegar)
    • Tyrells Lightly seasalted
  • Other crisps
Popcorn, sweets and cereal bars Chocolate

Fats and oils

Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Milk and soya free spread such as Pure – Sunflower Spread and Vitalite
  • Vegetable Fat such as TREX
  • Lard
  • Dairy free spreads
  • Other solid cooking and baking fats
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cream
  • Soya Spread such as Pure Soya spread
  • Oatly cream
  • Olive and vegetable oils
  •  Soyabean oil


Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Sugar, glucose
  • Honey, Jam, marmalade, lemon curd
  • Herbs, spices, stock cubes, salt, pepper, essences,
  • Nuts
  • Marmite, Vegemite, Bovril
  • Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Baking powder
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • Lemon curd
  • Brown sauce, mayonaise, salad cream, mustard,
  • Pickles and chutneys
  • Gravy mixes
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces
Soy sauce



Ingredients listed as ‘flavourings’ or ‘natural flavourings’ may contain milk or soya. Contact the manufacturer for information about specific products


Allowed To check Not allowed
  • Milk substitute
  • Milk flavourings as ice cream topping and powdered drink mixes such as Nesquik or Crusha
  • Milk shakes, Malted milks, Flavoured milks
  • Fruit juice
  • Vegetable juice
  • Smoothies
  • Cocoa
  • Drinking chocolate
  • Soda water
  • Mineral water
  • Tonic water
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Coffee whiteners

Please note: All branded products are milk and soya free at the time of printing. Detailed information on manufactured products can be obtained from the customer services department of most supermarkets.

Sample meal plan


  • Cereal with milk substitute
  • Toast and milk or Soya free spread
  • Drink of juice or milk substitute


  • Sandwich with milk soya free spread or
  • Beans on toast or
  • Egg on toast
  • Fruit
  • Drink

Evening Meal

  • Meat or fish or lentils
  • With rice or pasta or potatoes
  • Vegetables


  • Milk pudding or custard made with milk substitute
  • Fruit with Oatily Cream


  • If your child is hungry between meals. Suitable snacks to offer include fresh fruit, crackers, a slice of bread or breadsticks.

Eating out

If your child has a food allergy there is no reason why you should not enjoy eating out. If your child needs emergency medication (such as an Epipen) they should not eat out unless they have their medication with them.

Order simple dishes such as grilled meats, steamed vegetables and potato, steer away from soups, sauces and dressings where ingredients are easily hidden. Fresh fruit is a good option for dessert.

Always check with the staff about the ingredients in the dish you want to order. If you are not sure do not order the food.

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact nutrition and dietetics on: 0114 271 7212.

Further resources

Anaphylaxis UK has fact sheets about anaphylaxis and common food allergies. It also has an extensive database of information about all types of food allergies and advice. They also have regular alerts if foods have been flagged as being unsuitable for certain allergy sufferers and it has not been mentioned on the packaging.

Dietary Card offers discreet, durable and highly professional cards articulating your dietary needs to waiters and chefs. These translations mean you can carry peace of mind in your pocket wherever and whenever you eat. Using a Dietary Alert Card in English or 17 other languages to order meals in the UK or abroad.

National Dairy Council
5-7 John Princes Street

The National Eczema Society
163 Eversholt Street

Provamel UK
Ashley House
86-94 High Street
Telephone: 0181 577 2727

The British Nutrition Foundation
High Holborn House
52-54 High Holborn
Telephone: 0171 404 6504

Allergy UK
3 White Oak Square
London Road
Telephone: 0132 261 9898

Sainsbury’s Customer Service
J Sainsbury Plc.
Stamford House
Stamford Street
Telephone: 0171 921 516000

Tesco Nutrition Advice Service
Tesco House
PO Box 18
Delamare Rd
Waltham Cross
Telephone: 0192 263 2222

Is something missing from this resource that you think should be included? Please let us know

Contact us


Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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