DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am highly concerned about part of your answer regarding lactose intolerance vs. allergy: "Lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy, the allergy being where there is specific reaction to the protein in the milk or milk product. Cheese should be avoided by those with milk allergies. Butter does not contain protein, but in the unusual case of an acute allergic sensitivity, even this may have to be avoided."
I think you do a disservice to the food-allergic population by this statement. Any parent of a child diagnosed with a dairy allergy is told to avoid all dairy products -- butter included. We battle long and hard to educate family, friends and schools about food allergies and the risks our allergic kids face every day.
We know that it is the protein in foods that causes the allergic reaction in people. All foods contain some amount of protein; otherwise, people wouldn't be allergic to things like vanilla, garlic, watermelon and kiwi, to name a few -- things we do not think of as having protein. So while butter may not have a high protein content, it certainly contains trace amounts and is on the no-no list for anyone diagnosed with a dairy allergy.
I understand that you write your article for the general public, but we face enough skepticism as it is when we attempt to educate people about food allergies. Statements such as the one in your column only make things harder in that regard. -- C.O., via email
DEAR C.O.: You are right. I was mistaken and I apologize to you and others who may have gotten incorrect information. The Nutrition Facts label of butter does indeed show a "0" for protein, but there is a small amount present: about 0.12 grams of protein in a one-tablespoon serving. The Nutrition Facts label rounds to the closest whole number, so anything less than one half of one gram will show "0". Although it seems minor, this amount might be enough to cause a reaction in those with an allergy. My column was written to answer a question about lactose intolerance, but when I added a brief mention about milk allergies, I should have had butter on the "NO" list. This could have been followed with a qualification that some with a milder allergy may be able to tolerate small amounts, but it was incorrect to have it the way it appeared. Thanks for your note.
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