Dairy-Free – Checking Labels for Dairy-Products

Going dairy-free is not always as straightforward as you might think… sure, cut out cheese, yoghurt, milk, and butter and you’re part way there, but did you realise that bread often has dairy in it, as do some soy-cheeses, crisps (chips), and even some toiletries? If you’re really committed to going vegan, or if you have a dairy allergy and need to eradicate the stuff completely then check out the list below so as to know what to look for on labels to indicate that the product contains some dairy ingredient. This list is not exhaustive so please let me know if there is something else that you think should be added and I’ll revise it accordingly. Take a magnifying glass to the store with you – you might need it for some of those tiny-lettered labels! Good luck!

cow sceptical quizzical dancing

Lactose may be added to bread and cakes as a browning agent and also to sausages, burgers, and meat (it is sometimes injected into chicken meat, as weird as that sounds). Lactose may be used as a sweetener in soft drinks and lagers, along with breakfast products, powdered drinks, sauces, and some slimming products (Matthews, et al, 2005).
Some prescription medications such as birth control pills, and over-the-counter medicines for acid-reflux and dyspepsia, contain lactose or dairy-derivatives (CFIA, 2010). Homeopathic remedies are also often lactose-based although Neal’s Yard Remedies offer a lactose-free range.

‘Hidden’ Sources of Lactose and Casein

Butter Fat
Butter Oil
Butter Solids
Buttermilk solids
Rennet casein
Delactosed or Hydrolyzed casein
Ammonium Caseinate
Calcium caseinate
Casein Hydrolysate
Iron Caseinate
Magnesium Caseinate
Potassium Caseinate
Rennet Casein
Sodium Caseinate
Zinc Caseinate
Lactalbumin phosphate
Dry milk powder
Dry milk solids
Evaporated milk
Hydrolyzed milk protein
Milk fat
Milk powder
Milk protein
Milk solids
Modified milk ingredients
Sweetened condensed milk
Sweet whey
Whey powder
Whey protein
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein hydrolysate
Demineralized or delactosed whey

(Sibley, et al, 2011)


Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Health Canada, Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Anaphylaxis Canada, Association québécoise des allergies alimentaires, Canadian Celiac Association, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, (2010). Milk Allergy. Canadian Food Inspection Agency,. Available at: http://j.mp/lGdI7m.

Matthews, S.B., Waud, J.P., Roberts, A.G., Campbell, A.K., (2005). Review: Systemic lactose intolerance: a new perspective on an old problem. Postgrad Med J, 81, pp.167–173.

Sibley, E., Fisher, R., Pennington, J., (eds). (2011). Lactose Intolerance. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, Available online: http://j.mp/lIWXoG

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