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Detection of relevant amounts of cow’s milk protein in non-pre-packed bakery products sold as cow’s milk free


Currently there is no mandatory labelling of allergens for non-pre-packed foods. Therefore, when buying products sold loose, consumers with food allergy rely on voluntary information provided orally by the staff or in a written form in the salesroom. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the staff in bakeries is able to give advice regarding a safe product choice for food allergic consumers and to what extent bakery products, which are sold as “cow’s milk-free” by the staff, contain cow’s milk protein.


Staff of 50 bakeries in four different neighbourhoods in Berlin was interviewed regarding selling non-pre-packed foods to customers with food allergy. Bakery products being recommended as “cow’s milk-free” by the staff were bought and cow’s milk protein levels were measured with ELISA ((RIDASCREEN®FAST Milk (RBiopharm)).


In 30/50 bakeries (60%) the staff reported that they serve customers with food allergy at least once a month, in 12/50 bakeries (24%) at least once a week. Most of the staff (42/50, 84%) stated that they are able to advise food allergic consumers regarding a safe product choice. Altogether 73 “cow’s milk-free” products were sold in 44/50 bakeries to the study personal. Cow’s milk protein could be detected in almost half of the bakery products (43%), every fifth product (19.2%) contained > 3 mg cow’s milk protein.


Most of the staff in Berlin bakeries felt confident in advising costumers with food allergy. However cow’s milk was detectable in a great number of bakery products which was sold by the staff as “cow’s milk-free”. In some products the quantity of cow’s milk protein exceeded an amount where approximately 10% of cow’s milk allergic children show clinical relevant symptoms.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Trendelenburg, V., Enzian, N., Bellach, J. et al. Detection of relevant amounts of cow’s milk protein in non-pre-packed bakery products sold as cow’s milk free. Clin Transl Allergy 5 (Suppl 3), O8 (2015).

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