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 stearoyl lactylate
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 GoDairyFree.org 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.