The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate

I often need to reassure people who write me that none of the food additives found in ingredients' lists on packaged foods starting with "lact" ever contain lactose. Not any. Lactates, lactones, lactylates, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, the whole kit and caboodle are lactose-free. The only "lact" that contains lactose is lactose.

I just did a post on one aspect of this, Not all "Lact" Words Are the Same.

It gets a little trickier for people who have to worry about milk allergies. Both lactalbumin and lactoglobulin are names of whey proteins. You want to avoid those if you have a milk allergy.

What about the other "lact"s?

I just received an email from a women who said that her son had an allergic reaction and she traced it to the hot dog buns that contained sodium stearoyl lactylate.

My Dairy or Nondairy page on my Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse website has for years carried this quote from FAAN (the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network) about lactylates:

"They do not contain milk protein and need not be restricted by someone avoiding milk."

The page with that information on it is still up at the FAAN site.

I didn't stop there. Perhaps new information has come along.

I looked at other authoritative sites.

The Food Allergy Initiative:
Ingredients that do not contain milk are:
Cocoabutter, coconut milk, calcium lactate, calcium stearoyl lactylate, oleoresein, cream of tartar, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and lactic acid (although lactic acid starter culture may contain milk).

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency:
Ingredients that do not contain milk protein
Calcium/sodium lactate
Calcium/sodium stearoyl lactylate
Cocoa butter
Cream of tartar

This seems to be solid. Even so, I can nitpick the information.

That very same Canadian page also claims lactate/lactose under "Other Names for Milk." Unless labeling regulations are totally different in Canada, this is false, as I posted in 2006, Lactates Not Lactose.

And that page has a note on it that reads:
These lists are not complete and may change. Food and food products purchased from other countries, through mail-order or the Internet, are not always produced using the same manufacturing and labelling standards as in Canada.

While I wouldn't expect any hot dog buns you buy in a store in the U.S. to have unregulated products from other countries in them, I can't guarantee that they don't. I think it's highly unlikely, though.

Alisa Fleming at lists lactylate and sodium stearoyl lactylate under "Surprisingly Dairy Free Ingredients." Unfortunately she lists sodium lactylate, as well as lactate, under "Definitely Dairy Ingredients." I don't understand this and I'll ask her about it directly.

[Update: She says that the sodium lactylate under Definitely Dairy Ingredients is a mistake and has been corrected on her latest lists. So that's another point away from any lactylate creating dairy symptoms.]

In fact, I can't find a single site that is scientifically trustworthy that says that lactylates might contain milk protein. You can find sites that claim this, but they never say where they get their information from. If not from the authoritative sites, then where?

Until I have better or newer information, therefore, I have to suggest to adults, or to parents who think that lactylates may have caused an allergic reaction in their children, that they should try to find a different source of the milk contamination or to consider the possibility that some other cause was the culprit.

I'm not going to be absolute on this. If you want to eliminate lactylates from your foods, go right on doing so. It's the possibility that you may be eliminating the wrong thing that worries me.

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Healthy Vegan Diet Fast Food Meal Menu said...

As a vegan this is a very helpful resource. Thank you for taking the time to sort through this information.

Anonymous said...

I also have a lactose intolerance. After eliminating every other possible source from my diet, I find that I must also eliminate foods containing lactylate.

I don't know why this would be if, as your sources indicate, it does not have a connection to milk. I only know I am doing better since I removed it from my diet.

It would be interesting to hear if there are others with this experience.

Jackie said...

I am lactose intollerant also. I am not affected by lactylate. Although, I do experience the same sife effects from mayo as I do dairy. I believe I may be egg sensitive. I think perhaps our bodies may be sensitive to certain products as well as dairy.

Cathy said...

Milk allergy is not my problem, but lactose is. I'm an out-of- practice chemist and I had to start reading those labels more carefully when avoiding the usual sources of lactose weren't doing me any good. I was very suspicious of sodium stearoyl lactylate since I think the word lactylate derives from lactose. I asked a practicing chemist about it because I couldn't find any info on the internet. She said that it will break down into lactose and other compounds that didn't concern me. My solution of avoiding lactylate has been successful but nearly impossible if you want bread or ANY baked goods. Some store's fresh baked rolls don't have it and I just recently found that WalMart's store brand white bread doesn't either(at least where I live).

CL said...

After my son with a dairy allergy broke out after eating buns I found a couple of sites that said that lactylates can come from lactic acids started in milk. Wikipedia wrote that there is no more protein left over and therefore there would not be a reaction. Just seems like maybe there is more to it.

Icalasari said...

Thank you. It was the only thing that sounded like dairy product on an ingredient list for coffee creamer. Now I know that I can keep having International Delight without my intolerant bowels hurting me

Anonymous said...

As a chemist I don't see how it is possible for sodium stearoyl lactylate can break down into lactose. But then again, I'm not an organic chemist so one might have better input. and

Teresa K. said...

anything lact- is a derivitive of some fort of lactic acid or lactose. Lactic acid can come from cow, hog, or vegetable source. Sodium stearoyl lactylate can be animal or vegetable based.
Those with milk allergies can have reactions to more than just milk proteins, including the sugars (lactose) and other ingredients of cow milk.
I kept having allergic reactions (GI, respiratory, rash) to some bread my in-laws were buying. The only difference between the bread they bought and the bread I buy was the ingredient "sodium stearoyl lactylate". Years of allergy testing have found that I am only allergic to cow milk. Clearly, this brand uses the lactylate that is derived from cow milk.
My advice is to avoid any thing lact- if you have milk allergies, or are vegan, unless the packaging specifically states that it is derived from vegetable sources.
Milk allergen sufferers and vegans also need to be wary of live culture "Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. Acidophilus)" as it is a culture derived from cow milk. I had an allergic reaction to this, too, in a soy and supposedly "vegan" yogurt.

Sienna Schwartz said...

I agree with Teresa K. While it may sometimes be true that the above mentioned "lacts" don't come from a milk source it is not always true. I suffer from a sever milk allergy and find that, more often than not, the lactic acids (ex: found in most gummy candies), calcium/potassium lactates (ex: used to calcium fortify orange juice, used in most processed meats and many meat counter meats), sodium stearoyl lactylates (ex: used in many breads as mentioned before) do indeed give me an allergic reaction meaning they ARE derived from milk. I have learned to call (or e-mail if no phone number is given) companies and ask the source of their "lact" products. Some will even tell me that it IS derived from milk. Some will have a plant derived product and others won't be able to answer the question. I avoid the products unless I can be 100% guaranteed by the manufacturer that is is NOT derived from milk.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has a severe dairy allergy. She has reacted several times to breads and the only thing we can find is the lactylate in the bread. She reacts within 5 min of eating so we can easily pinpoint the culprit.