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All comments are welcome and will be posted, even if they are negative. You just can't promote other sites or products in them.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lactose Free Yogurt and Cottage Cheese

J. D. from Charlotte, N.C. writes:

Why aren’t lactose-free dairy products made into yogurt or cottage cheese? I haven’t found such products at the market, and they would be a good addition to the lactose-free selection.


Unfortunately, J. D. from Charlotte, N.C., had the misfortune to write Ed Blonz, Ph.D., On Nutrition instead of me. You can read Dr. Blonz's answer here.

Here's a better answer from me.

There do exist lactose-free yogurts and cottage cheeses. Lactaid makes a 100% lowfat cottage cheese. It also makes lactose free American cheese slices and ice cream.

Continental makes lactose free yogurt in three flavors.

You can find a listing of reduced lactose milk products in my Product Clearinghouse on the Reduced Lactose Milk Products page.

You can also find store brand versions of these products in some locations. I don't keep track of them because they are too localized, but just ask your store manager.

So why the ignorance about these products? Simple. They don't sell. People with lactose intolerance are just too small of a specialized market. They don't go out of their way to buy lactose free substitutes. Either they do without or they take a lactase pill and keep on eating their favorites.

If you want to support these products, great. Buy them. Request them if they're not available in your local stores. Use that Lactaid product request form I linked to earlier. But if you don't buy them, they will go away. Again. Many lactose free products have disappeared from shelves because sales were too low. If you want to keep them on store shelves, it's totally up to you.

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4 comments:

Joel said...

Howdy,

Thanks for keeping us LI individuals up to date with your helpful information. I heard only last week that approximately 40% of Eastern European background americans, 60% of Afican-Americans and 100% of Asian-Americans are LI. With numbers like this, they are either false, or I would say that LI is a large enough market now for food compnaies to focus more on LI products. Do you agree with these numbers?

Joel

Steve Carper said...

Those numbers are completely accurate, but misleading without some context to them.

What does it mean to say that 60% of African-Americans are LI? Simply that if you were to look at the DNA of every African-American, about 60% of them would retain the original gene that told the body to stop making the lactase enzyme after the age of weaning, and that about 40% have the mutated gene that never sends out this signal. This is one technical definition of lactose intolerance.

It's not the common one, though. Most people say that they have lactose intolerance if they get symptoms after eating or drinking dairy products. How is that different? Well, if you never have dairy products you won't get symptoms. If you have small amounts of dairy products, you likely won't have symptoms. If you stick to dairy products with low amounts of lactose, you won't get symptoms. If your colon is full of acidophilus or other "good" bacteria that digest lactose, you won't get symptoms.

That makes the actual market for reduced-lactose dairy products or non-dairy milk substitutes much smaller than the gross figures would indicate. Real dairy products also tend to taste better, or at least more familiar, to those who've grown up with them, another disincentive toward buying substitutes.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any such products. I list hundreds of them in my Product Clearinghouse. But they'll never be a big mainstream product category.

Lynn said...

Hi Steve,

Did you know about the lactose free yogurt you can make yourself? I just tested it out this weekend and I think it is truly safe stuff. It is for me anyway - and I'm usually reactive to store-bought yogurt, milk etc. I can eat most aged cheeses in reasonable amounts - but have to watch out for hidden lactose that sometimes sneaks up on me. Anyway - I discovered the SCD Diet for those with various stomach and intestinal illnesses. The key is, you make the yogurt yourself using a good starter and milk (cow or goat) - and you must allow it to ferment for a full 24 hours so that the process will consume the lactose. After the 24 hours - you chill it in the fridge for 8 hours - then eat as you like. Now mind you, it is possibly more tart tasting than the store stuff - but I simply added sugar and it tastes quite heavenly then. I ate some twice today - 9 hours ago and 5 hours ago - and NO reactions whatsoever. It's wonderful! Oh - and they say you can turn it into a yogurt cheese as well - which I'll also try this week. You can read about it here: http://www.scdiet.org/2recipes/scdyogurt.html

I thought this was a simply wonderful discovery!

Best to you. Love your site and blog.

PS: Oh - more details for you ... You can get a nice little cheap yogurt maker from Amazon for $16 made by Salton. I boiled the milk before culturing which leads to thicker yogurt. I use the starter culture from YoGourmet - which seems to be universally recommended as excellent.

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