Hidden Dairy

Dairy products seem to be hiding in almost everything we eat these days. If you are trying to avoid dairy in your diet, either due to allergies, lactose intolerance or other health issues, beware of any kinds of packaged foods.  When our daughter was diagnosed allergic to dairy, I was amazed to learn how many foods have dairy, hidden in the ingredient list.  Who would have thought hot dogs or chewing gum would have dairy?  Certainly not me.  Below is an always incomplete list of different ways that dairy can be “hidden” in our foods.  Also note that there is no requirement to list ingredients that constitute less than ½ of 1% by mass of a product, so often dairy ingredients are truly “hidden”.

Ingredients which contain dairy:

  • Milk, of any kind
  • butter
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • milk solids
  • whey or whey protein
  • casein (sodium caseinate is the most common)
  • lactose (sodium lactylate, frequently)
  • lactalbumin and other names that begin with lact
  • galactose
  • protein  – often milk products are used to “enrich” foods with protein
  • “natural ingredients”. This is always a red flag to my family.

Foods which often contain dairy: Be sure to check the labels, and check them often as the list of ingredients changes frequently.  Occasionally I am surprised to learn that a food we have been buying will suddenly change their list of ingredients, often adding dairy.

  • margarine
  • processed meats of any kind (cold cuts, deli meats and hot dogs)
  • bread and/or breaded foods
  • soy or veggie cheeses (They normally contain caseinate, a milk protein, to help them melt more easily.)
  • “non-dairy” anything, including Cool Whip and other non-dairy items.  Non-dairy does not mean milk free.  It is a term used to indicate less than ½% milk by weight
  • medicines and vitamins.
  • canned tunafish.
  • chicken broth
  • chocolate.
  • chewing gum

For more information on dairy allergies and help in managing them,
contact the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (www.foodallergy.org)

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