Oh, c'mon, you knew it was going to happen the second you saw the original announcement that McDonald's had hidden dairy and wheat derivatives in its fries.
And of course the lawsuits are now coming in from all over the country. The AP reports that suits have been filed in Illinois, Florida, and California.
However, only one of the lawsuits alleges that anyone got sick as a result of eating the fries, and that was a five-year-old with gluten intolerance. I have not seen any indication that anyone with a cow's milk protein allergy ever became ill.
It's early yet, though. No doubt some federal judge will put these into a class-action lawsuit somewhere down the line. At that time we'll find out a lot more info about what was in those fries and whether they ever held any danger for the milk allergic.
MTK, as they say in the news biz. More to come.
The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.
For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on Smashwords.com or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.
I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Oh, c'mon, you knew it was going to happen the second you saw the original announcement that McDonald's had hidden dairy and wheat derivatives in its fries.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Whenever you think the world has gone beyond bonkers, someone in Corporate America will come along and kick it up another notch.
Take Wonder Bread. Good old-fashioned Wonder Bread, so ingrained in American lore that a spokesperson for the company issued a statement assuring folks that its new Wonder Bread with whole grains would still roll up into little balls for lunchroom food fights. Dairy-free Wonder Bread, which managed to build bodies 12 ways without using any milk for the last decade. That Wonder Bread.
The one that now complies with the new Food Labeling Law by listing a warning that it contains milk. But doesn't contain milk.
You read that right. There's a milk warning on a product that contains no milk.
Why? Because at some point in the future, Wonder Bread will change its recipe to include whey, a milk product. When? Oh, maybe later this year.
"Our customers are best served - and the spirit of the FDA regulations is best served - by changing the labeling on a schedule that ensures that consumers have the information they need," said Theresa Cogswell, vice president of research and development of parent company Interstate Bakeries Corp.
That's nice of them, and extremely civic minded.
Only one problem.
It's not currently true. They are deliberately mislabeling their product.
"The regulations state that the packaging has to be truthful and not misleading," [FDA spokeswoman Kimberly] Rawlings said. "The label should reflect the contents of the package."
So is this fraud? Probably not, but mostly because the FDA never even considered the possibility that somebody would start putting on a warning before the product was even added.
Wonder Bread. Teaching people not to trust ingredients labels since 2006.
Excuse me while I go off in a corner and babble quietly to myself.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I started Steve Carper Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse in the early days of the web, in 1997, as a way to continually update the information in my then newly published book Milk Is Not for Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance.
It started as no more than a few pages created in Word, before I had learned even basic HTML. I knew from the beginning, though, that I wanted to a way to get as much info from others and share it as widely as I could. That's why I named it a Clearinghouse.
Clearinghouse it's been. Dozens, if not hundreds of others have sent me info on every possible aspect of Lactose Intolerance. Today's the site's grown to over 100 pages, with information that literally can't be found anywhere else on the Net. My Product Clearinghouse lists every nationally available milk substitute product I'm aware of, along with dozens of items from countries around the world, countries which a few years ago had nothing for those who are LI. My Milk-Free Bookstore lists just about every book that might be of interest to those needing to avoid milk for any reason. I have answers to questions sent in by the thousands. And of course I have the basic information everyone needs about LI and dairy products.
I'm proud to say that my hit counter has finally gone over the magic 250,000 mark. That's probably conservative – I didn't have a counter at all in the early days – but it still means a lot. Thanks for all the support and praise you've sent me all these years.
I'm putting more time into this blog these days. It's just easier to update on a daily basis. That doesn't mean that the website is going to fall into dust. I'm still adding products, sites, books, and links to the site and I plan to continue doing so as long as there's a need.
Thanks again, everyone. I would have stopped long ago if it weren't for all of you. That's why I'm saying "We" Hit the Quarter Million Mark.
Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse.
P.S. If you forget the URL, just enter www.stevecarper.com. You'll be redirected to the site.
Jill Robbins is yet another mother who took her child's allergen-free diet into her own hands. Eight years ago, after her youngest son was both with serious food allergies, she began to explore recipes that were actually edible.
This has grown into Gak's Snacks.
Jill wrote me to say:
Gak’s Snacks is a new web-based company whose mission is to make it easier for children and families with food allergies to enjoy baked goods like everyone else. We offer cookies and coffee cake, baked in our dedicated facility with no peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, or dairy. Our products are also whole grain, certified organic, and contain no cholesterol or trans fat. For those who enjoy baking, we have just published a food allergy cookbook for baked treats and we offer many of the ingredients in our web store. As a Mom of a child with multiple food allergies, I know how important it is to find resources.
Gak’s Snacks, LLC
P.O. Box 491
Windham, NH 03087-0491
Toll free: 800-552-7172
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
McDonald's has always claimed that it had no dairy in its fries. Good.
McDonald's has decided to disclose the presence of common allergens in its foods in response to the new labeling laws even though it doesn't legally have to. Good.
Oops. It turns out that they've slapped a milk label on those dairy-free fries. Bad.
Here's the story as it is being reported by the Associated Press.
McDonald’s director of global nutrition, Cathy Kapica, said its potato suppliers remove all wheat and dairy proteins, such as gluten, which can cause allergic reactions. But the flavoring agent in the cooking oil is a derivative of wheat and dairy ingredients, and the company decided to note their presence because of the FDA’s stipulation that potential allergens be disclosed.
“We knew there were always wheat and dairy derivatives in there, but they were not the protein component,” she said. “Technically there are no allergens in there. What this is an example of is science evolving” and McDonald’s responding as more is learned, she said.
I can't find any mention of what exact derivative of milk is used in the fries, although I'll update this report as soon as it's revealed – if ever. However, even if the flavoring agent is lactose, the amount that enters a particular batch of fries is probably way too small to create symptoms in any but the most extremely susceptible lactose intolerant individual.
For those with milk allergies, the situation is a bit more complicated. No protein component should mean that they are safe for most people with a mild allergy. Those with serious anaphylactic-potential allergies know that even a few molecules of remaining protein can trigger an attack, so they should now avoid these fries entirely.
The same holds true for those with celiac disease and other gluten intolerances.
Three cheers for the new Food Labeling Law for forcing these disclosures. More information on the law, along with a link to the bill on the FDA site, can be found at Major Change In Labeling Law Scheduled for January 1.
Labels: gluten intolerance
Monday, February 13, 2006
Marcia Blackwell of Blackwell's Organic, makers of vegan soy gelato and fruit sorbetto, dropped me a note about her company.
We got in the business because my husband is lactose intolerant and I was concerned about the quality of our milk supply.
We use only the highest quality certified organic ingredients.
Their website is at http://www.blackwellsorganic.com
I found 11 flavors there: Blueberry, Chocolate, Coffee, Lemon, Mango, Orange, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl, Pineapple, Raspberry, and Vanilla.
Blackwell's is available in a few places in New Jersey and will soon be shipping its gelato by mail order.
Blackwell's Organic, LLC
9 Catherine St. Unit D
Red Bank, NJ 07701
Fran Costigan, author of Great Good Desserts Naturally, has a sequel out called, naturally, More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts Naturally.
Both can be found on my Milk-Free Books page in my Milk-Free Bookstore, along with links to over 200 other books for those wanting to avoid milk.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
I just received yet another question asking whether a calcium ingredient on a food label contained lactose.
The simple answer is no. No calcium additive in any food contains any lactose.
I can only assume that the confusion comes from the fact that milk is high in calcium. Some people must think that, therefore, calcium comes from milk, and so calcium must contain lactose.
Not true. Commercial calcium is rarely derived from milk. And no calcium product, not even calcium lactate, will have any lactose at all.
Just to be on the safe side, let me mention that calcium caseinate does indeed derive from the milk protein casein. And it is something that people with serious milk allergies must avoid. However, it contains no lactose. Two different problems; two different things to watch out for.
More on lactose in calcium products on my website on the page The Experts Speak.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Valio Ltd. has marketed a lactose free milk in Finland, it's home country, since 2001. It's a milk unlike most lactose free milks in the United States. Those have a sweet taste, because they use the lactase enzyme to break down the lactose into simpler sugars that are much sweeter than lactose. Valio uses a chromatographic separation process that physically removes the lactose. Lactose itself is so mildly sweet that removing it makes less of a difference. The process works so well that less than 0.01% of the lactose is left, allowing the milk to be considered lactose free.
Valio has since introduced its milk to lactose intolerant customers in Belgium (Valio brand), Sweden (Valio), Switzerland (Emmi) and Spain (Kaiku sin lactosa) in Europe and has now moved into the potentially huge Asian market with its Maeil brand milk in South Korea. Check out this chart of countries, brands, and types of milk. ESL (extended shelf life) means shelf stable brick packs; UHT (ultra high temperature pasteurization) means longer shelf life fresh milk.
Valio is also the parent company of Finlandia Cheese which sells lactose-free cheeses in the U.S.
Contact info for Valio in Finland is:
Valio Ltd, Head Office
Meijeritie 6, PO Box 10
00039 VALIO, Helsinki
Tel. +358 1038 1121
Fax +358 9 562 5068
You can also use their web site to send a message directly from their contact us page.
Vaalia, a Parlamat brand, has added lactose free yoghurt in Australia to its Zymil line of lactose free milk. Both use the lactase enzyme to break down the lactose into simpler sugars.
According to their press release, "the new offering comes in 2x175g packs in four flavours - French Vanilla, Creamy Lemon, Apricot Mango and Strawberry." It's a low-fat yogurt with 1.4% milkfat content.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Plumtree Press has announced the publication of a free downloadable e-book, “Grocery Shopping For Your Food-Allergic Child.” The book is written by food allergy expert Linda Coss.
You can download it from www.FoodAllergyBooks.com/shopping.html.
Accordig to its press release, the book teaches parents:
- How to determine if a product is safe for their child;
- Why they should always read the ingredient statement of each item they purchase;
- What they need to know about the dangers of cross-contamination;
- How and when to call the product’s manufacturer;
- How kosher labeling can be helpful for the dairy-allergic
- And other important information they need to keep their food-allergic child safe.
Coss is the author of two books on food allergy: How To Manage Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips For Everyday Life and What’s to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook. Both books are available at www.FoodAllergyBooks.com, Amazon.com, and various booksellers nationwide.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that went into effect on January 1 does more than just require the prominent labeling of allergens in the ingredients list.
(See Major Change in Labeling Law Scheduled for January 1.)
Another change is the requirement that the amount of trans fats be listed along with the amount of saturated fats. Trans fats are now thought to be the worst type of fats in foods, as this FDA QandA reveals:
Q: What ARE trans fatty acids?
A: Trans fatty acids (or “trans fat”) are fats found in foods such as vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, candies, baked goods, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, salad dressings, and many processed foods.
Q: Why Should I Care About Trans fat?
A: It’s important to know about trans fat because there is a direct, proven relationship between diets high in trans fat content and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and, therefore, an increased risk of coronary heart disease – a leading cause of death in the US.
Q: Aren’t ALL Fats Bad?
A: No. There are “good” fats and “bad” ones, just like there’s good and bad blood cholesterol. Saturated fats and trans fat have bad effects on cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and corn oil) have good effects.
Q: How much trans fat is too much?
A: There is research currently underway to determine this. However, it is true and accurate to say that the less saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol consumed the better. Trans fat while pervasive in many of the foods we eat is not “essential” to any healthy diet.
Trans fats are a special problem in foods made almost entirely of fats, like margarines. In my Product Clearinghouse I have a page listing Nondairy Margarines. All of them are lactose-free and I believe that all of them are casein-free as well. The usual disclaimer: Ingredients change without warning. Always check the package to be sure.
What's the trans fat contents of these margarines? A good question that was fortuitously answered in the January/February 2006 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter, the publication of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
I've tried to match their data to the brands and varieties listed on my site. Remember, the lower the Bad Fat the better. Here's the results:
Total Fat – ToF; Saturated Fat – SF; Trans Fat – TrF; Saturated + Trans Fat=Bad Fat – BF; all are measured in grams
- 55% Vegetable Oil (tub) ToF – 8; SF – 1; TrF – 0; BF – 1
- Light – 37% Vegetable Oil (tub) ToF – 5; SF – 0.5; TrF – 0; BF – 0.5
- 100% Canola Margarine (tub) ToF – 11; SF – 2; TrF – 2; BF – 4
- Natural Buttery Spread (tub) ToF – 11; SF – 3.5; TrF – 0; BF – 3.5
- Soy Garden Natural Buttery Spread (tub) ToF – 11; SF – 3.5; TrF – 0; BF – 3.5
- Natural Buttery Sticks ToF – 11; SF – 4.5; TrF – 0; BF – 4.5
- Sweet Unsalted Margarine (tub) ToF – 8; SF – 1.5; TrF – 0; BF – 1.5
- Sweet Unsalted Margarine (stick) ToF – 11; SF – 2; TrF – n/a; BF – n/a
- Light Margarine (tub) ToF – 5; SF – 0; TrF – 0; BF – 0
- Light Margarine (stick) ToF – 5; SF – 1; TrF – n/a; BF – n/a
Mother's – not listed
- Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread (tub) ToF – 5; SF – 1.5; TrF – 0; BF – 1.5
- Smart Beat Super Light Margarine (tub) ToF – 2; SF – 0; TrF – 0; BF – 0
- Smart Squeeze Fat-Free Margarine ToF – 0; SF – 0; TrF – 0; BF – 0
- Natural Spread (tub) ToF – 10; SF – 0.5; TrF – 0; BF – 0.5
- Natural Spread Essential Omerga-3 (tub) ToF – 10; SF – 1; TrF – 0; BF – 1
- Organic (tub) – not listed
- Soybean Margarine (tub) ToF – 11; SF – 2; TrF – 0; BF – 2
The Healthletter rates any margarine with Bad Fat of 1 or less a Best Bite. Those with 1.5 rate Honorable Mention.