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Cow’s milk, egg, wheat and soya (MEWS) free diet

Patient information A-Z


Your child has been diagnosed or is suspected to have a cow’s milk, egg, wheat and soya intolerance or allergy. This information sheet is intended as a guide to identifying suitable foods for this diet.

Although there are obvious sources of milk, soya, egg and wheat, derivatives of milk, soya, egg and wheat are also found in many manufactured foods.

Pre-packed foods for sale within the UK containing milk, soya, egg and wheat must have these allergens highlighted in the ingredients list. This may be in bold, underlined, or in italics. As of October 2021, Natasha’s Law was implemented in the UK. This means that foods made and packaged on site (such as in a café or bakery – called pre-packed foods for direct sale) must also have a full ingredients list on the food with the allergens highlighted in the same way as for pre-packed manufactured foods.

There must also be a list of product ingredients available for all foods that may not be labelled as they are sold loose such as those sold in a delicatessen or bakery. This may be written down or explained to you verbally.

Labels that say ‘may contain...’ are increasingly being used, but are not covered by labelling laws. They are used to indicate that the food is produced in the same area as foods containing allergens, and there may be a risk of cross contamination. This should be following a strict risk assessment.

Avoid any foods with the following ingredients:


  • Cow’s milk/ evaporated milk/ condensed milk
  • Non-fat milk solids/ milk sugar solids/ milk powder/ milk solids
  • Casein/ caseinates/ milk protein
  • Whey/ whey syrup sweetener
  • Lactose
  • Butter/ margarine
  • Cream, cheese and yoghurt
  • Flavourings that contain milk

Soy and soy derivatives

  • Soya milk, soya yoghurts and desserts
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein
  • Soya lecithin E322
  • Soya protein products; for example, miso, tofu, edamame, tamari, nimame, natto, okara, soja, tempeh
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, teriyaki sauce, vegetable broth, vegetable starch

Please note: A product labelled ‘free from soya or soya derivatives’ may contain soya oil and/or soya shortening. Soya oil, as used in manufactured products, is refined and contains no protein; it is considered soya free. Cold pressed soya oil, available from health food shops, may contain soya protein and should be avoided.


  • Egg/ fresh eggs (including all birds' eggs)
  • Egg protein (albumin, ovalbumin, globulin, ovoglobulin, livetin, ovomucin, vitellin, ovovitellin)
  • Dried egg
  • Egg albumin
  • Egg lecithin E322
  • Egg yolk
  • Egg white
  • Frozen egg
  • Pasteurised egg


  • Breadcrumbs or batter
  • Hydrolysed wheat protein
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Wheat gluten
  • Wheat starch (please note that many gluten-free products still contain gluten-free wheat starch and are therefore not wheat-free)
  • Raising agents (unless specified as being made from another cereal (for example corn)
Suitable and unsuitable foods on a 'MEWS'-free diet
Suitable foods Foods to check Unsuitable foods
Other milks Suitable foods Many non-dairy alternative milks should not be given as your child’s main drink until they are two years old. There are some that are more appropriate to use as a main drink from 1 year with dietetic advice. They can all be used in cooking from six months. Choose calcium enriched types.
+ Coconut milk eg Koko dairy free, Coconut dream + calcium, supermarket own brand. Check ingredients as some brands contain soya
+ Pea milk drink (Mighty, Wunda, Qwrkee)
+ Hazelnut milk eg Alpro chilled hazelnut milk
+ Almond milk eg Alpro almond, Almond dream, Almond breeze
+ Rice milk for children over 4½ years eg Rice Dream or Provamel rice drink
Foods to check Oat milk and oat cream – most brands do not use wheat as an ingredient. Please check the label for cross-contamination if your wheat allergy is severe.
Some brands of coconut milk contain soya beans or soya protein.
Unsuitable foods All cow's, soya, goat’s and sheep’s milk.
Fresh, dried, condensed, evaporated, and skimmed cow’s milk. Coffee whiteners, such as Coffee Mate, Coffee Compliment. Single and double creams including those made from vegetable fat, eg Elmlea
Cheese Suitable foods Coconut-based cheese eg Koko, Violife, Vitalite, Applewood, and supermarket own brand Foods to check Unsuitable foods Cheese and cheese spreads containing cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk and any other mammalian milk
Fats/ oils Suitable foods Dairy and soya-free margarines eg Pure or Vitalite
Lard, suet, dripping, vegetable oils
Foods to check Olive oil spreads
Hydrogenated vegetable oils may contain milk or soya – please check ingredients
Unsuitable foods Butter, margarine and spreads containing milk. Soya margarines such as Tomor, Vitaquell, Vitasieg, Granose.
Yoghurt and desserts Suitable foods Nut based yoghurt eg Petit Filous Dairy Free, Nush
Dairy-free and soya-free ice cream for example The Coconut Collaborative, Booja Booja, Freaks of Nature
Jelly made up with a suitable milk/ water
Tapioca made with a suitable milk
Foods to check Oat yoghurt, oat custard, oat cream, oat crème fraiche
Most oat brands do not use wheat as an ingredient, however oats may be cross contaminated with wheat. Gluten free oats are suitable. Please check the label for cross-contamination if your wheat allergy is severe.
Unsuitable foods Yogurt, fromage frais, crème fraiche, dairy or soya ice cream, milk chocolate desserts.
Dairy desserts eg custard, mousse, instant whips, trifle, Angel Delight, rice pudding
Soya yoghurt and milk desserts
Egg custard
Breakfast cereals Suitable foods Cereals based on rice, corn or buckwheat Gluten free porridge oats Foods to check Porridge oats
Cereals containing barley malt extract
Unsuitable foods Cereals containing wheat (eg Weetabix, Shredded Wheat, malted wheats)
Other cereals Suitable foods Rice, ground rice, tapioca, sago, buckwheat, millet, quinoa Foods to check Barley and rye – check with your dietitian if you can include these Unsuitable foods
Flours Suitable foods Rice, corn, potato, sago, buckwheat, millet, arrowroot Foods to check Unsuitable foods Wheat, soya, semolina, bulgar wheat, durum wheat, couscous, spelt
Alternative pastas Suitable foods Rice, corn or buckwheat pastas (not containing egg) Foods to check Rice noodles Unsuitable foods All wheat containing pasta eg spaghetti, macaroni, noodles
Alternative breads and crackers Suitable foods Rice cakes, corn cakes
Any other cow’s milk, soya, egg and wheat free breads and crackers, eg BFree range
Foods to check Ryvita, rye bread, oatcakes Unsuitable foods All wheat-based breads and crackers
All wheat-free bread and crackers containing cow’s milk, soya and/or egg
Meat, fish, chicken and alternatives Suitable foods Most varieties of freshly prepared and cooked meat, fish, chicken and alternatives without milk, soya, wheat or egg products
Tinned and dried pulses, for example, red kidney beans, chickpeas, peas, and other beans
Foods to check All pre-packaged/processed ham, sausages, burgers, meats and chicken
Quorn products (many contain egg, wheat or milk)
Unsuitable foods Fish, chicken or meat in batter or breadcrumbs
Pasties, sausage rolls
Soya mince
Textured vegetable protein
Eggs Suitable foods Egg replacers may be used for cooking and baking
Homemade egg replacer eg equal parts chickpea flour and water
Foods to check Unsuitable foods All forms of eggs
Vegetables and potatoes Suitable foods All fresh, frozen or tinned without butter or flour coating Foods to check Instant potato, waffles, potato shapes, potato crisps  Potato salad, vegetable salad, coleslaw
Oven chips
Baked beans
Unsuitable foods Vegetables 
pre-packed in butter, or milk/cheese based sauces
Fruit Suitable foods Fresh, frozen, dried, tinned in juice or syrup, fruit in jelly, fruit juices Foods to check Unsuitable foods Fruit tarts or flans
Fruit yoghurt
Snacks Suitable foods Plain and salted popcorn, olives, corn snacks, rice cakes
Dried fruit and dried fruit snacks
Foods to check Crisps, including potato/ corn snacks
Unsuitable foods Twiglets, cheese straws, toffee popcorn, puffed wheat, prawn crackers and corn snacks containing milk, cheese, egg
Preserves and confectionery Suitable foods Sugar, glucose, jam, honey, syrup treacle, marmalade
Some brands of plain chocolate (eg Plamil, Organica, Nomo)
Boiled sweets, lollies, pastilles, gums, jelly sweets, peppermints
Foods to check Other plain/ dark chocolate
‘Free from’ chocolate
Unsuitable foods Lemon curd
Toffee, fudge, caramels, butterscotch
Milk and white chocolate
‘Milk-free’ chocolate made with soya
Beverages Suitable foods Tea, coffee
Crusha syrup
Plain cocoa powder
Squashes, fizzy drinks, fresh fruit juices
Foods to check Nesquik powder Unsuitable foods Malted drinks such as Horlicks, Ovaltine, Milo, Options, Drinking chocolate, milkshakes, yoghurt drinks, soya milks
Soups, sauces and gravies Suitable foods Homemade using milk, soya, wheat and egg-free ingredients Foods to check All packaged soups, sauces, stock (cubes and fresh) and gravy
Egg-free mayonnaise and salad cream
Unsuitable foods Mayonnaise
Cream sauces
Most standard gravy granules eg Bisto, supermarket own
Most standard stock cubes eg Knorr, Oxo
Miscellaneous Suitable foods Salt, pepper, herbs, spices, vinegar, mustard powder, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, baking powder, yeast, colourings, essences, gelatine, and monosodium glutamate Foods to check Tablets containing lactose filler
Low calorie sweeteners
Monosodium glutamate with lactose filler, (bought as a powder for Chinese cooking)
Unsuitable foods

Please note: All branded products are cow’s milk, soya, wheat and egg free at the time of printing but are subject to change without notification. Always check the ingredients. Detailed information on manufactured products can be obtained from the customer services department of most supermarkets.

Milk substitutes

Infants and children under two years of age should be given a suitable cow’s milk- / soya- free formula to ensure adequate supplies of vitamins and calcium. Your dietitian will advise you as to the most suitable formula for your child.

In instances where a specialist formula is not indicated, or where a child is more than two years of age, other milk substitutes can be used, such as almond milk, soya milk and oat milk. Rice milk is a suitable substitute for children over the age of 4½ years. It is recommended that you choose one which is calcium and vitamin enriched.

Calcium/ vitamin supplementation

If a calcium and/or vitamin supplement is required your dietitian will advise you on an appropriate product and dose for your child.

Egg replacers

Egg replacers have little nutritional value, but they can be useful in cooking for making cakes and such. They can generally be obtained from health food stores, large supermarkets or from the manufacturer. Some homemade ideas for egg replacers are mashed banana, chickpea water (or chickpea flour mixed with water in equal quantities) or grated fruit such as apple or pear.

Orgran: No Egg (200g); 1 pack = 66 eggs

Holland and Barrett: Vegan Egg Replacer (200g)

Free and Easy: Free From Egg replacer 135g; 1 pack = 45 eggs

Oggs: Oggs Egg Alternative Aquafaba (200ml); 1 pack = 4 eggs

Tesco: Tesco Egg alternative (135g); 1 pack = 22 eggs

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Cambridge University Hospitals
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