U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2008


Published in Physiology & Behavior 93 (2008) 189–199.


When casein, a milk protein, is hydrolyzed, it renders human foods that contain it (e.g., hypoallergenic infant formula, cheeses) distasteful to many people. This rejection of hydrolyzed casein (HC)-containing foods has recently been found to also occur in a non-human species (deer, Odocoileus spp.). Identifying other animals that avoid HC would facilitate understanding how and why HC-containing food is often rejected. This study determined whether HC-containing food is avoided by Mus musculus and whether consumption patterns were sensitive to testing conditions, specifically food form (powder, pellet or dough) and food access (ad libitum or 1.5 h/day following 6 h of food deprivation). Diets were offered in two-choice tests that paired an HC-containing food with an intact casein-containing alternative at seven protein concentrations (0%–50% w/w). Five experimental groups were tested under different combinations of food form and food access. Three groups (ad lib/powder, ad lib/pellet, and 1.5 h/pellet) avoided the HC diet starting at the 30% protein level. At the 40% and 50% protein levels, all groups showed strong avoidance of HC. Although testing conditions influenced total caloric intake and body weight gain, avoidance of HC at the highest concentrations was robust to the manipulations in experimental conditions. Our study suggests that mice may be a useful model for understanding the mechanisms of HC rejection.