Does Lunch Meat Have Dairy?


Last updated on September 19th, 2022 at 10:57 am

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If you have an allergy to milk products then you know that you cannot eat anything that contains milk or milk-derived ingredients. Enjoy making sandwiches with lunch meats? Well, you don’t want to end up getting sick if they contain milk products. 

So, does lunch meat have dairy?

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Some lunch and deli meats may have some hidden traces of dairy. Ingredients like casein, lactose, and caseinates are milk products. These are added to some lunch and deli meats to flavor it and to act as an emulsifier.

Does Lunch Meat Have Dairy?

Those with milk allergies should avoid any milk or milk-derived products. Milk allergies are actually quite common with cows milk being the usual cause. However, milk from sheep, goats, buffalo, etc can also cause an allergic reaction in some people. 

A milk allergy is an abnormal response to milk and milk products by the body’s immune system. It is also one of the most common food allergies in children. If you have an allergy to milk, then you will notice a reaction. 

These reactions range from mild to severe, varying from person to person and include the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting
  • Hives
  • Itching or tingling around the lips or mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Coughing/shortness of breath
  • Digestive problems
  • Anaphylaxis (in extreme cases)

These symptoms along with some other severe symptoms can happen when someone who is allergic to milk consumes it. There is also a milk intolerance (also referred to as lactose intolerance) which isn’t as severe and causes bloating, gas, or diarrhea after milk has been consumed. 

An allergic reaction to milk usually occurs soon (anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours) after milk is consumed. To avoid allergic reactions, those with a milk allergy shouldn’t consume anything with milk or milk-containing products. Most children outgrow their milk allergy, but those who don’t outgrow it should stay away from milk products.

Now, if you have an allergy to dairy, then you may be concerned about these milk products added to lunch meats. Well, you are right. Common allergens like lactose and other milk products such as casein, and caseinates are found in some lunch meats. But, you can still eat some deli meats. 

We will discuss lunch and deli meats that don’t not contain dairy products later on in this article. 

Lunch meat is a favorite for a quick and easy lunch. There are many flavors to choose from for making a great sandwich. But, if you have a milk allergy, you should avoid certain lunch meats. 

They are often made with dairy-products and you don’t want to risk having an allergic reaction. So, in answer to the question, does lunch meat have dairy, yes, some lunch meats contain dairy but there are some that do not.

What Deli Meats Are Dairy-Free?

So, if you have an allergy to milk, then you know it is best to avoid dairy products in all foods including lunch meats. If you aren’t sure if a certain lunch meat contains milk or milk products, then there are some ways you can check. 

So, what lunch meats are dairy-free?

Dairy-free lunch meats include products labeled as Kosher or “dairy-free”. But, to be safe, always check the ingredients to be sure that it doesn’t contain any dairy products at all. While many types of lunch/deli meats contain milk products, there are some that do not.

Keep in mind that even though a food says that it is non dairy it may still contain other milk-contaminated ingredients. If the food is labeled as Kosher it is dairy-free. Or if it is labeled with a circled K or U or features the word Pareve or parve, it is free of milk and milk products. 

If there is a D next to the K or U then the products contain milk or milk products and should be avoided if you have a milk allergy. Often, processed meats like lunch or deli meat contain milk in some way so it is best to read all food labels so you can avoid the product you’re allergic to.

Take some precautionary steps in order to avoid deli meats with dairy. First of all, read the ingredients. Usually packages of lunch meat will say something like “contains milk products”. If you are even in doubt, just call the company. 

Always be sure to ask questions at the deli counter for that meat. Deli meat is still processed so explaining you or your family members’ allergies can be helpful so you know you are getting dairy free lunch meat. 

It can be difficult to find products that don’t contain milk or milk products. But, you will be happy to know that there are many lunch/deli meats that are dairy-free. To help you as you shop for lunch meats, let’s take a look at some dairy-free lunch meat options. 

Some of these are also gluten-free products if you have a gluten allergy. Lunch meats for a dairy-free diet include:

  • Applegate Farms – All of their cold cuts and deli meats are dairy-free as well as gluten-free. The lactic acid starter culture they use in the meats doesn’t come from dairy products making it safe for those with a dairy allergy.
  • Boar’s Head – All of these lunch meats are gluten-free and all except for a few are dairy free. The meats that do contain dairy are:
    • Mortadella Bologna
    • Chorizo Sausage
    • Pesto Parmesan Ham
    • Italian Style Roast Beef
  • Columbus – All of these deli meats are dairy free except for some of the salami products. They are also gluten-free.
  • Diesel – All of the deli meats are gluten and dairy free. They also don’t contain any artificial ingredients, phosphates, nitrates or MSG.
  • Dietz and Watson – Many of these lunch meats contain nonfat dry milk. If you are also gluten-free then you should know that almost all of them are gluten free except for:
    • Rotisserie Style Chicken
    • Scrapple Bockwurst
    • Fat-Free Beef Franks
    • Gourmet Lite Franks
    • Gourmet Lite Beef Franks
    • Chicken Cordon Bleu
    • Chicken Florentine
    • Chicken Portabella
  • Hormel Natural Choice – These lunch meats are dairy-free as well as dairy-free and they don’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or nitrates.
  • Jennie-O – There are several gluten-free lunch meats options. But, these labels should be checked for dairy-products since not all of their lunch meat are dairy-free.
  • Jones Dairy Farm – Even though the word “dairy” is part of their name, their lunch meats do not contain any dairy. They are also gluten-free.
  • Niman Ranch – All of their meats are gluten-free and also dairy-free except for their hotdogs. 
  • Wellshire Farms – Check out the Wellshire Farms Allergen Database. Using this convenient Smart chart, you can select what allergen you want to stay away from and search products by category so you know exactly what contains dairy or gluten. Most of their meats do not contain dairy expect for:
    • Gluten free Turkey Italian-style meatballs
    • Pork liverwurst
    • Turkey liverwurst

Final Thoughts

Lunch meats are great for making sandwiches, but some aren’t so great for those who are allergic to dairy. Those with a milk allergy should avoid consuming milk products. 

Some lunch meats contain milk or milk-derived products, but fortunately, there are some that are diary-free.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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