Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or 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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Lactose Intolerance Doesn't Cause Strokes. Does It?

You'll notice in the About Me column off to the right that I had a mild stroke this year, forcing me to take several months off. No, the fact that I'm lactose intolerant had nothing to do with it. Nothing, nothing, nothing. I'm saying that very, very loudly because some of you out there would be writing in tomorrow telling me that their strokes really were caused by LI. No. They weren't. Nobody can possibly be that ignorant of LI, you say. That's only because you don't read my mail. You wouldn't believe what people already think that LI can cause. Oy.

Then again, "cause" is a loose term. To my stun and amaze, this very week I stumbled across an article by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune, reprinted in about a million smaller papers. It concerns the medical travails of Alexei Sultanov, a concert pianist with a long history of medical problems. And the stroke he had. In the thalamus, same as mine. "Caused" by lactose intolerance. Well, in a really, really, really loose sense of the word "cause." Let me excerpt just the few relevant sentences.

On a February evening in 2001, Sultanov walked into the bathroom in the Fort Worth home he shared with his wife, leaned over the toilet and purged his dinner.

A few minutes earlier, he had eaten a crock of French onion soup that he had cooked, promising himself he would not eat the cheese because he was lactose intolerant.

But he couldn't resist its aroma and taste. After he devoured the food, his stomach began to ache, causing waves of nausea.

He decided to do what he had done since childhood - retreat to the bathroom to empty himself of his meal. But while doing so he became dizzy, lost his balance and struck the left side of his head against the porcelain sink.

Cranial scans showed the disaster looming inside his head. So much blood was amassing, with nowhere to go, that it began pushing his brain from left to right.

As increasing amounts of blood pummeled the organ, blood vessels to his brain stem and other areas were severed or crushed, denying vital oxygen and glucose to vulnerable tissue.

Not one but five strokes racked Sultanov's brain as he lay in the hospital.

Well. Man. Not good. Though spoilsport me does need to point out that nausea isn't a symptom of LI. Whatever.

Bathroom safety. Our resolution for the New Year.

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Monday, December 26, 2005

Major Change in Labeling Law Scheduled for January 1

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), passed back in 2004, finally goes into effect on January 1, 2006.

The full text of the bill, formally Title II of Public Law 108-282, can be found here.

The presence of any of eight potential major allergens - milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans – must now be revealed in plain English and in easy-to-see and –read form on labels.

What does mean for those with milk allergies, or who want to avoid milk for other reasons? I copied the following from

  • List the allergen on the ingredient list. For example: MILK, listed with other ingredients.

  • Use the word "Contains" followed by the name of the major food allergen, printed at the end of the ingredient list or next to it. For example: CONTAINS MILK.

  • Use a parenthetical statement to clarify technical ingredient terms. For example: CASEIN (MILK), or WHEY (MILK).

Most labels already do have this information in the U.S. Still, making sure that all labels do is an important step for the millions who must watch out for potential allergens.

And the Act also calls for follow-ups, including a study on the effectiveness of the legislation and the collecting and publishing of research pertaining to food allergies.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Santa's Kringle Kruncher

Milk and cookies. Milk and cookies. Milk and cookies. Ten million more homes to go. Milk and cookies. Milk and cookies. Milk and cookies. No wonder Santa is a tub o' lard who needs to rest up for the next 364 days.

What Santa needs is some low-fat soy milk and dairy-free cookies. Or even better, something to get around all those calories.

So a huge cheer for Shelby Macy, 12, of Beaverton, Oregon, who won first prize in the pre-teen category in The [Portland] Oregonian's Design Santa's New Sled contest with the following entry:

"Blitzn" was a careful rendering of Santa's sleigh along with detailed descriptions of its features, which propelled this entry to the front. The sleigh features a toy/coal dispenser -- to supply the needs of both good and bad children -- and a unique Kringle Kruncher, which transforms milk and cookies into energy for a lactose-intolerant Santa.

Yay, Shelby!

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Lactose Intolerant? Blame Your Ancestors

I've said this before, mainly in my book - Milk Is Not for Every Body - but whether you are or aren't lactose intolerant depends mostly on whether your ancestors were.
And your ancestors' decision whether or not to domesticate milkable animals for dairy products led to the spread of the mutation that allows for lactose tolerance all through adulthood.

More confirmation of this comes from the work of evolutionary biologist Paul Sherman, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University. His work appeared in a recent issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, but I'm going to spare you and just quote from an article about it, written by Michael Kanellos at CNET News.

Researchers at Cornell University have shown in a recent study that lactose intolerance is largely a factor of cultural evolution. That is, members of ethnic groups that emerged in regions where raising cattle was common often are more genetically predisposed to digest milk products. Meanwhile, people whose ancestors came from regions where extreme temperatures, short growing seasons and dangerous animal-borne diseases made animal husbandry expensive and difficult often feel cramped and nauseous after eating dairy products.

In cheese-happy Denmark, for instance, only 2 percent of the population studied was lactose intolerant. In Zambia, near the equator, 100 percent of the individuals studied were lactose intolerant.

"The implication is that harsh climates and dangerous diseases negatively impact dairy herding and geographically restrict the availability of milk, and that humans have physiologically adapted to that," Sherman said.

The key to lactose intolerance is the enzyme lactase, which is required to digest milk. Although infants around the world produce the enzyme, more than half the people in the world, particularly those of Asian and African descent, stop producing it as they mature. People of northern European descent tend to continue to produce the enzyme because of a genetic mutation, according to Sherman. Thus, they can drink milk throughout life.

The full journal article can be found at Bloom, G. and P.W. Sherman. 2005. Dairying barriers and the distribution of lactose malabsorption. Evolution and Human Behavior 26:301-312.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Goat's Milk for Lactose Intolerants? No.

Due to the pernicious influence of the Internet, which spreads misinformation worldwide in seconds, I've been getting a lot of people asking whether they can switch to goat's milk if they are lactose intolerant.

The simple, direct, and correct answer is no.

Almost all of the animal milks that humans have used over the centuries are very close to one another in lactose content. They tend to have 4% - 5% lactose, allowing for the inevitable variations due to breeds and feeds. (See my Lactose Zoo page for detailed percentages.)

Why the confusion, then? Goat's milk – along with all the other animal milks – has a markedly different set of proteins, especially casein proteins, than cow's milk does. Those with Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) may find that they can tolerate goat's milk without symptoms. Emphasis on the may. I would not suggest goat's milk to those severely anaphylactic to cow's milk. The rest of you with milk allergy, however, and that's the majority, may be in luck.

An article, "Cow or goat: which milk is better?", by Jane Clarke, in The Times of London adds some other advantages and warnings:

Some young children with eczema and other allergies may do better with goat’s milk formula than cow’s milk or soya milk products, as goat’s milk is much closer in molecular structure to mother’s milk. These formulas are also higher in essential fatty acids than cow’s milk formulas.

The mineral content of both milks is generally similar, although goat’s contains slightly less calcium and slightly more vitamin A, potassium and selenium, which is an antioxidant.

Finally, a warning to pregnant women. Listeria is found in unpasteurised goat’s milk, yoghurt and cheese, so you need to avoid all of these and drink only pasteurised goat’s milk. The FSA advises avoiding soft goat’s cheeses such as chèvre.

Lactose intolerance remains a problem with the lactose, so if you do try goat's milk, remember to take your lactase pills, just as you would when having cow's milk.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No Need to Avoid Milk Even If You Have Symptoms Says New Study

According to, a new study by a leading Finnish research team denies that cow's milk is the cause of their gastrointestinal symptoms.

HELSINKI, Finland, Dec. 16 - Milk and other lactose-rich products may be getting a bum rap for food-related gastrointestinal symptoms, researchers here say.

The real culprit could well be an as-yet uncharacterized intestinal immune-mediated disorder, reported Laura Paajanen, M.D., of the Foundation for Nutrition Research here in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"We conclude that food-related gastrointestinal symptoms in young adults are caused by unspecific and unknown traits of altered mucosal immune response rather than by cow milk, as is often suspected by the patient," the study authors wrote.

"We suggest that this new entity, i.e., intestinal immune-mediated disorder, may be a self-perpetuating disease with fluctuations in symptoms, they wrote. "An autoimmune characteristic of the syndrome, at least in a subgroup of the affected subjects, cannot be ruled out."

Individuals who avoid milk and diary products in the mistaken belief that these are the source of their GI symptoms may not be getting important nutrients, they added.

Primary source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Source reference: Paajanen L et al. Cow milk not responsible for most gastrointestinal immune-like syndromes-evidence from a population-based study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 82:1327-1235.

As I've often argued, never assume that all your symptoms are coming from one food unless you have done a lengthy and exhaustive food diary to carefully study every food that you are eating. Symptoms from food are often hard to pin down. Milk is not always to blame, and there is no need to take it out of your diet unless you are forced to.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Switching Off Lactose Intolerance... Someday

Lactose intolerance is caused by a gene turning off the production of the lactase enzyme that digests lactose. Simple as that.

That has led many people to wonder whether switching off that signal in the cells that manufacture lactase would lead to permanent lactase production.

In fact, a few years ago Dr. Matthew During of the Central Nervous System Gene Therapy Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia did a series of experiments on rats that accomplished exactly that. See my article on his work.

He was researching toward a breakthrough in diabetes, though, so don't expect to see a cure for LI any time soon.

I mention all this because Scientific American just published a nifty explanation of how scientists do cell-switching, with lactose digestion leading to the understanding of just how to do it.

50 years ago.

Oh well, at least they're still working on it. Maybe someday.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL Infant Formula Now Available

Mead Johnson has announced a new infant formula that may be an intermediate step before going to soy-based formulas for infants with temporary breastfeeding problems.

Here's the press release:

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- New Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL infant formula is now available, making it the first and only formula in the U.S. that combines partially broken down whey and casein milk proteins, reduced lactose and LIPIL. LIPIL is Mead Johnson's blend of DHA and ARA, two nutrients also found in breast milk that promote babies' brain and eye development. Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL is designed for feeding term infants with fussiness or gas.

"Enfamil Gentlease is a great alternative for formula fed infants who are experiencing common feeding problems such as gas or fussiness," said Jon Vanderhoof, MD, Vice President of Global Medical Affairs for Mead Johnson Nutritionals. "Its unique formulation will provide mothers with a formula choice that doesn't eliminate all the lactose or any of the cow's milk protein."

Gas and fussiness in infants can be caused by many factors. Physicians differ in their approaches to managing feeding problems in formula fed infants, but historically, first-line therapies have involved switching the infant to either a milk-based, lactose-free formula, which contains cow's milk protein but no lactose, or switching to a soy protein-based formula, which contains no cow's milk protein or lactose.

Breast milk is best for babies, but for those babies that are fed infant formula, formulas containing cow's milk protein rather than soy protein are usually preferred. When switching from a routine infant formula because of feeding tolerance issues, mothers and health care professionals may be willing to try a milk-based formula with proteins that have been partially broken down. Likewise, the reduced lactose level, when compared to full-lactose, routine milk-based formulas, may help infants when they have temporary trouble with lactose. The introduction of Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL allows physicians to recommend an infant formula with protein from cow's milk, the preferred protein source for formula-fed infants, and with lactose, the primary carbohydrate in human milk, but at a reduced level.

Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL is now available. Consumers can call 1-800-BABY-123 for assistance in locating Enfamil Gentlease LIPIL at a store in their area. Mead Johnson Nutritionals is a world leader in nutrition, dedicated to giving infants and children their best start in life. Mead Johnson & Company is a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

Go to the Mead Johnson website for additional contact information.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Teaching Lactose and Lactase

A wonderful site,, has a long list of simple teaching experiments that teachers can do to show how lactase digests lactose, among other nifty things.

  • Lactase
  • Lactase Inhibition
  • A New Pedagogy for the Lac-Operon
  • Control of Lactase Activity: Genetic and Enzymatic Levels of Control
  • Exploring the Realm of the Steady State in E. coli

    If you poke around on the site, there's probably lots more of interest. I'd love to see students come out of school already knowing how lactose digestion works.

    And I can't help mentioning an old favorite here, from San Francisco's marvelous Exploratorium. Milk Makes Me Sick: Exploration of the Basis of Lactose Intolerance.

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  • Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Lactagen Response - It Worked for Her

    In response to my earlier post -Lactagen: Questions, No Answers, I received an email from Patricia S. She gave me permission to post her message her on the Planet Lactose blog and also on the Lactagen page on my website.

    I found your site through the Lactagen website and saw that if someone went through the program that you wanted them to email you with all the details, so that's why I'm writing.

    There's really nothing to tell other than it worked. I had been lactose intolerant for almost 4 years, got an email that was advertising Lactagen and various other products. Normally I would've trashed the email but when I saw the word lactose I figured I might as well read it. I checked out the website and thought to myself that it was expensive however it it worked then it was worth the money and if it didn't there was a 6 month money back guarantee. So either way I couldn't lose. My total cost with shipping & tax was $148 and change.

    I followed the program to a "t" and didn't have any problems until the very last day when I had my last 12 ounce glass of milk. Got all the symptoms as if I just ate a hunk of cheese (bloating, massive diarrhea) except the massive and painful cramping. After my ordeal (when I was free of the bathroom), I called the Lactagen company up and one of their experts asked what I had for dinner with the milk. I told him, and there was absolutely nothing I ate that had any trace of dairy in it. So we talked for a bit, he asked my symptoms, and when I said I did not have any of the severe cramping that I normally did he said it was probably something I ate that just upset my system and to restart the last 3 days of the program were you just drink the various ounces of milk but also to introduce one other think of dairy into my diet like having a cheeseburger for lunch one day, cheesecake the next day, etc. This seemed to work and so far I have been able to eat dairy with no problems at all!

    So for your reference the Lactagen program really does work!

    And a follow-up:
    I forgot to mention that prior to trying Lactagen, I did try Lactaid and Ultra Lactaid pills and for the first few years it worked about 99% of the time, then it started dropping and by last July 2004 it completely stopped. Basically, it was just a band-aid, a very temporary band-aid. And of course, it was at the worse possible time...while I was on a cruise! Let me tell you, it was not too fun watching everyone else eat all those yummy meals & desserts that I couldn't have!

    So if you want, you can add this to your website/blog so if someone reads it they will know that I did use the Lactaid pills. Basically, it was just a band-aid, a very temporary band-aid.

    I'm for whatever works for people without hurting them. If you have more comments or questions about Lactagen, be sure to leave a comment.

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    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    Was Darwin Lactose Intolerant?

    You knew it, didn't you? You just knew it. All that controversy over evolution – and it's all our fault.

    Sorta. Anthony K Campbell and Stephanie B Matthews recently published a History of Medicine article in the Postgraduate Medical Journal (2005;81:248-251) that makes a case that Charles Darwin's lifelong illnesses were really symptoms of "systematic lactose intolerance."

    Here's the abstract:

    After returning from the Beagle in 1836, Charles Darwin suffered for over 40 years from long bouts of vomiting, gut pain, headaches, severe tiredness, skin problems, and depression. Twenty doctors failed to treat him. Many books and papers have explained Darwin’s mystery illness as organic or psychosomatic, including arsenic poisoning, Chagas’ disease, multiple allergy, hypochondria, or bereavement syndrome. None stand up to full scrutiny. His medical history shows he had an organic problem, exacerbated by depression. Here we show that all Darwin’s symptoms match systemic lactose intolerance. Vomiting and gut problems showed up two to three hours after a meal, the time it takes for lactose to reach the large intestine. His family history shows a major inherited component, as with genetically predisposed hypolactasia. Darwin only got better when, by chance, he stopped taking milk and cream. Darwin’s illness highlights something else he missed—the importance of lactose in mammalian and human evolution.

    Not everybody buys this, of course, but just think if Darwin had made the connection in the 19th century. That sure would have made those long years in the 1970s before I got diagnosed a lot more fun.

    If only Darwin had been smarter…

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    Animal Planet

    Just a reminder. All adult mammals are naturally lactose intolerant. And that means no matter how hot it gets, be real careful about sharing your ice cream with your pets.

    Vets already know this. The Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article quoting Dr. Tony Buffington, a veterinarian and clinical nutritionist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.

    Moderation is everything, even for animals, Dr. Buffington rightly says:

    Give the pooches ice cream in moderation, he suggests, and cut back on other high-fat treats.

    "Dogs are also more likely to be lactose intolerant than humans," Buffington says.

    But that doesn't mean they can't enjoy a little ice cream occasionally. If the animal shows persistent symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as diarrhea or bloating, then maybe it's time to stop dishing out the ice cream.

    On another hot button issue, Dr. Buffington has only seen one case of chocolate intoxication in dogs in 25 years of practice, BTW. Still, his advice is simple: if you want to give your dog a taste of ice cream, make it vanilla.

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    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    "Clearly a Case of Lactose Intolerance." Groan.

    Who says judges don't have a sense of humor? Or does the credit/blame go to the columnist?

    I don't know what to make John Goff's seriously deranged Good Week/Bad Week column over at But I'm going to quote a piece of it anyway.

    In one of the most bizarre cases of corporate fraud in U.S. history — and that's saying something — the CEO and CFO of now-defunct cheese maker Suprema Specialties Inc. were indicted Monday on charges that they perpetuated a massive scam. The swindle? They didn't actually have any cheese at the cheese shop (cue bouzouki music). "Suprema was essentially an illusion as a business and a lie for investors," said U.S. Attorney Christopher "Chris" Christie at a press conference. "It was in business to provide a means for fraud. There's not even an SIC code for that."

    According to reports, Mark Cocchiola, the 49-year-old founder of Suprema, and Steven Venechanos, the company's former chief financial officer, were charged in a 38-count federal court indictment. Charges include bank fraud, securities fraud, mail fraud, and ruminant fraud. In addition, at the arraignment on Wednesday, the two former executives both acknowledged that deep down, they feel like frauds. "We don't like cheese, or milk for that matter,' Venechanos told a judge. "We won't even sit at the same dinner table with a carton of milk." The judge later classified the fraud as a hate crime, telling defense attorneys "this is clearly a case of lactose intolerance."
    The defendents were cowed by the judge. "I couldn't have herd him correctly," one of them later said. "He was milking it for the spectators," remarked a baliff. A court analyst pontificated, "No whey do they get a condensed sentence. It'll go sour for them. But that's what they get for skimming." Rimshot.

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    Milk For the Lactose Intolerant?

    You should know by now that even if you're lactose intolerant, yogurt is the dairy product that's for you. The live and active cultures that make yogurt yogurt help to digest the lactose that's in the milk. It's auto-digesting, as the tech types talk. And those bacteria will reproduce in your colon, driving out the bad bacteria that ferment lactose and cause the symptoms of gas, bloating, and flatulence that make lactose intolerance a misery.

    But what if milk did that? Real, drinkable milk?

    That's the theory behind Dannon's DanActive. Known for years in Europe as Actimel, DanActive is currently making the big rollout into American stores.

    Okay, technically, DanActive isn't milk but a "cultured dairy drink." (In fact, when it was first test-marketed the company labeled it a dietary supplement. I like the change because as a dairy drink it gets regulated by the FDA and has to display the full set of nutrition information mandated by law.) It contains 10 times as many bacterial cultures as the best yogurt, using Lactobaccilis casei, Lactobacillis bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus. These are lactic acid bacteria, similar to the ones traditionally used in yogurt and cheeses. DanActive also gets to claim all the benefits of probiotics, which are all the marketing rage.

    Halfway between milk and yogurt drinks in texture, DanActive comes in blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, and plain.

    So. Does it work? They say yes.

    People who have difficulty digesting lactose may tolerate products that contain live and active cultures, such as DANACTIVE. The cultures begin breaking down the lactose while the product ferments and also while being digested. Because of this, dairy products with live and active cultures may be tolerated.

    DanActive is being sold in Whole Food Market stores, among others. I don't have one near by and I haven't seen the product in any local stores.

    UPDATE 2007: The DanActive Store locator shows that it is in supermarkets all over the country.

    Interesting idea, though. If you try some, let me know what you think.

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    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    Non-Dairy Chocolates from Chocolate Renaissance

    Chris Buhr let me know about her firm, Chocolate Renaissance.

    Chris has an impressive resume. According to the site:

    Chef Christine Buhr is a pastry chef with a mission. Classically trained at the International Culinary Arts Center under the tutelage of former White House Chef Albert Kumin, Chef Buhr successfully competed on the national scene as a Gold Medal winner with Felicitations of the Jury and First Prize in Chocolate Candies and Confections three years in a row at the Societe Culinaire Philanthropique, the grande damme of culinary competitions in the United States. Held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City in conjunction with the International Hotel and Restaurant Show, this competition attracts premiere chefs in every discipline.

    The site features non-dairy chocolates for those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies or the other milk avoiders in our midsts. They're also certified kosher by the Va'ad ha Rabbonim of MA. (However, the candies are made in a facility which contains nuts and so trace cross-contamination may be possible.)

    A variety of truffles and other chocolate candies are available, as are Ballotins, an assortment of truffles, fondant filled candies, giandujias (hazelnut praline), nut clusters and solid pieces.

    Ordering is done through the web site, For more information, call 617-777-7056 or email them at

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    Saturday, July 09, 2005

    World Allergy Day

    Happy World Allergy Day, everyone. Sorry I didn't get you a card.

    The World Allergy Association has proclaimed July 8, 2005, as the first World Allergy Day. Although food allergies are not their prime concern, there's no reason not to take advantage of it for spreading awareness of those as well.

    You can download a World Allergy Day Kit, whose materials include:

    • General Instructions
    • Sample Proclamation
    • Sample Media Advisory Information
    • Sample News Release
    • Sample Article for a Newsletter
    • Allergy and Allergic Asthma Information Statistical Sheet
    • National Data on Prevalence of Allergic Disease
    • World Allergy Organization Guidelines on the Prevention of Allergy and Allergic Asthma Materials:
    • Article
    • Patient Information Sheets
    • Power PointPresentation
    • Evaluation Form

    The World Allergy Day site also has a great set of International Organization Links.

    You can also fill in a form to receive their monthly e-letter, WAO News and Notes.

    While having a capital "D" day is no more than a publicity opportunity, it makes for a great springboard to have every day be an allergy awareness day. Spread the word.

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    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Finlandia Lactose-Free Cheese

    The good people over at Valio Ltd. make lactose-free Finlandia Cheese, imported from Finland.

    They even go so far as to explain their process:

    The statement below explains the microbiological phenomenon that causes Finlandia Cheeses to be lactose free. Traces of lactose may be found in Havarti cheese, but levels are well below the limit accepted for a lactose-free claim.
      Finlandia Swiss cheese is manufactured from milk which is coagulated by heat and microbial rennet. After coagulation the cheese is fermented with a souring agent containing lactobacilli, Streptococcus thermophilus and propionic acid bacteria. Within 24 hours, these bacteria break down the lactose into galactose and glucose. These are fermented further to lactic acid. Lactic acid is then fermented to acetic acid, propionic acid and carbon dioxide so that Finlandia Swiss does not contain lactose or any other carbohydrates.

      Finlandia Muenster, Gouda and Havarti cheeses are manufactured from milk which is coagulated by heat and microbial rennet. After coagulation the cheeses are fermented with a souring agent containing lactococci and lactobacilli. Within 24 hours, these bacteria break down the lactose into galactose and glucose. These are fermented further to lactic acid. Therefore these Finlandia cheeses do not contain lactose or any other carbohydrates.

      There are no international regulations to determine "lactose free". Valio Ltd is using "lactose free"- claim, when lactose cannot be found in the product (f. ex. cheese). Valio is using the best possible method (ion chromatographic method) to analyze lactose. The resolution for the method is 0,01%, which means that we can find 100 ppm (parts per million) of lactose from cheese. So, when we are calling cheese as lactose free, it contains less than 100 ppm lactose. Sometimes it is possible to find very small amounts (100 -200 ppm) of lactose from havarti type cheese. For example, normal semi skimmed pasteurized milk contains about 5% of lactose (50000 ppm).

    The cheese page gives the varieties. The Swiss comes in regular and light, with 50% less fat; there's regular Muenster and Oltermanni Baby Muenster; the Sandwich Naturals are available in Muenster, Finlandia Swiss, Oltermanni, Heavenly Light Swiss, Havarti, and Gouda; and the Finlandia Naturals Deli Sticks in Muenster, Finlandia Swiss, Heavenly Light Swiss, Havarti, and Gouda.

    Since the Viola and Lappi are not mentioned in the lactose free section, I would assume that they're made with a different process.

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    Thursday, June 30, 2005

    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Anti-Milk Campaign

    Hey, here's an idea. If you're LI and don't like it, sue. Sue who? Why not sue the dairy industry?

    Nutty? Of course. But as a publicity stunt it's top notch, if you're a group with an agenda.

    The group is the rabidly pro-animal rights and militantly vegan Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Since they're based in the District of Columbia, they plan to file suit against dairy producers on behalf of D.C. residents who are lactose intolerant. They're asking for compensation for lactose intolerant children, along with adults who've learned that they're LI in the past three years. The other part of the suit – and the obvious real goal, as the compensation issue stands no chance – is a court order mandating that warning labels about lactose intolerance be placed on milk sold in the city.

    For more publicity they've plastered the Metro rail and subway system with spoof ads of the Got Milk? campaign. The Got Lactose Intolerance? ads picture a multi-ethnic group of sufferers knocking on the door of an in-use bathroom, needing desperately to get in. And let's face it, which of us with LI hasn't been there?

    One problem is that there's a big difference between choosing to avoid or limit the use of dairy products and suing the dairy industry because milk is inherently evil. Another problem is trying to take sides with two groups which are both pushing agendas using misleading data and false claims.

    A report on (and similar to others easily found on the web) has a variety of highly unflattering comments on PCRM:

    The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks to remove eggs, milk, meat, and seafood from the American diet, and to eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its operational and financial ties to other animal activist groups and its close relationship with violent zealots, PCRM has successfully duped the media and much of the general public into believing that its pronouncements about the superiority of vegetarian-only diets represent the opinion of the medical community.
    “Less than 5 percent of PCRM’s members are physicians,” Newsweek wrote in February 2004.

    The American Medical Association (AMA), which actually represents the medical profession, has called PCRM a “fringe organization” that uses “unethical tactics” and is “interested in perverting medical science.”

    Unfortunately, while their tactics parallel those of PETA's, they are not always wrong, especially when the milk industry hands them a club to beat itself over the head with.

    Based on studies conducted by Michael Zemel of the University of Tennessee, the milk industry and big-name food companies started trumpeting in ads and press releases the notion that drinking milk can help people to lose weight. The PCRM is filing a suit against Kraft Foods Inc., General Mills Inc., the Dannon Co. Inc. and three dairy industry trade groups – including the National Dairy Council, which funded Zemel's work.

    The PCRM has disputed this dairy weight-loss notion here:
    Two recent studies, one at the University of Vermont and the other at Purdue University, found no significant difference in weight loss between people consuming a high-dairy diet and those consuming a low-dairy diet. In the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a study of dairy consumption among 12,000 children concluded that the more milk children drank, the more weight they gained. The study’s lead author called the dairy industry’s claims “misleading.”

    And here:

    “The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence confirms that dairy products either cause weight gain or, at best, have no effect on weight whatsoever,” said Amy Lanou, Ph.D., PCRM senior nutrition scientist. “Since 1989 there have been 35 clinical trials that have explored the relationship between dairy products and/or calcium supplements and body weight. Thirty-one found no relation; two indicated that milk and other dairy products actually contributed to weight gain. Only the two studies led by Zemel have found that dairy contributes to both weight and fat loss when individuals are also restricting calories to lose weight,” said Lanou.

    The defendants plan to vigorously combat the suit, according to their press releases. Policy by press release. I love it.

    However, my bottom line is that while studies are ongoing, the evidence that drinking milk leads to weight loss is thin indeed.

    But. Let me make that stronger. BUT. There are many studies that do show that milk is good for you in many different ways. There are also studies that show that milk may be a contributor to a number of diseases or health problems.

    Drinking milk is a decision, one best made by you in full knowledge of your own diet, nutrition, and health. If you want to avoid it, by all means do so. You do not need dairy products for a healthy lifestyle. But you can also have a perfectly healthy lifestyle with dairy products included. Beware of any group that tries to tell you something different.

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    Food Allergy Research Consortium Launched

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it will be funding a new Food Allergy Research Consortium. The consortium, led by Hugh Sampson, M.D., at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, will receive approximately $17 million over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an NIH division. In addition, a five-year NIAID grant totaling approximately $5 million to the Emmes Corporation, of Rockville, MD, will fund a statistical center to support the consortium.

    NIAID’s Division of Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation director Daniel Rotrosen, M.D. said, "The expertise of the Food Allergy Research Consortium provides a unique opportunity to investigate basic immunologic mechanisms associated with food allergy in animal models and humans, and, ultimately, to test novel therapies to treat food allergy.”

    A potential peanut allergy therapy will be tested first.

    The consortium’s second project is an observational study that will enroll 400 infants who have allergies to milk or eggs. Such children are at higher risk of developing peanut allergy, but the vast majority will lose their allergies to those foods as they grow up. The study will follow the children for at least five years and study immunologic changes that accompany the loss of allergy to foods and the development of allergy to new foods. This study will be led by Scott Sicherer, M.D., at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

    The clinical and observational studies will take place at five clinical sites:

    • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York; Principal Investigator: Hugh Sampson, M.D.
    • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Principal Investigator: Robert Wood, M.D.
    • Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; Principal Investigator: Wesley Burks, M.D.
    • University of Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Little Rock; Principal Investigator: Stacie Jones, M.D.
    • National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver; Principal Investigator: Donald Leung, M.D., Ph.D.

    For information about participating in the Food Allergy Research Consortium’s clinical and observational studies, please call the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Pediatric Allergy Division, at (212) 241-5548.

    All information and quotes taken from the press release on the NIH site (

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    Wheat and Dairy Free Online UK Supermarket

    The UK is home to a new website aimed at those with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and other food allergies and intolerances, The Wheat and Dairy Free Supermarket.

    Their homepage states that "We’ve brought together nearly 400 wheat, dairy, gluten, yeast, sugar and caffeine free products, including fresh bread daily, so you’ll be spoilt for choice." However, "Products on this site may contain nuts or traces of nuts." Deliveries are made within 48 hours throughout the UK for a flat fee of £6.50.

    I'm not happy with some of the statements on their Why Dairy Free? page, which I think are misleading or outright wrong. Fortunately, food doesn't care why you're eating it.

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    Monday, June 27, 2005

    Lactagen - Questions, No Answers

    I get more questions about Lactagen than any other single topic these days. Somebody is doing a remarkable job of marketing and promotion.

    Lactagen claims to be a cure for lactose intolerance. That's right: a cure. Take the product for 38 days and you'll never be bothered by lactose again. [UPDATE: Lactagen no longer uses the word “cure” in its marketing. Its website information has also changed since this was originally posted.]

    Lactagen's™ one-time 38-day patent-pending formula allows the gradual and painless re-introduction of dairy into the digestive system. The program painlessly trains the body to be able to digest dairy products without the usual painful reactions. The combination of taking yogurt with live cultures, having meals with the formula, taking specific dosages and with the combination of Lactose, Tricalcium Phosphate, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, FOS and Cellulose Gum and Silica, the body learns how to digest dairy products.

    On the surface, Lactagen doesn't appear to be very different from other acidophilus products aimed at those with LI, such as DairyCare (my website page / DairyCare homepage) or Digestive Advantage (my website page/ Digestive Advantage homepage). What hits my eyeballs with fireworks is the claim of a permanent cure.

    How can this possibly work? Here's my speculation.

    There are two sources in the body for the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Undigested lactose pulls water into the intestines, creating possible diarrhea. And that undigested lactose can be fermented in the colon by the bacteria that naturally live there, producing the gases that can cause bloating, cramps, and flatulence.

    But other types of bacteria actually digest the lactose. These types include Lactobacillus acidophilus as well as the bacterial cultures that are used in yogurt. If you have yogurt regularly you can push out the "bad" bacteria and colonize the "good" bacteria in their place. Result: greatly diminished symptoms if you eat or drink any lactose.

    Lactagen seems to use the same effect. Here's how the site describes the regimen:
    Step 1: Starting Lactagen™
    Starting the program is simple. Most importantly the program is specifically set-up to minimize any lactose intolerant symptoms which might occur. Dissolve the Lactagen™ patent-pending proprietary blend in 4 to 6 ounces of water and drink it with your meals. After the proprietary blend is dissolved, the product turns clear and tastes a little sweet. Consume yogurt (with "live cultures") during the first three days to supplement the blend. We recommend not eating any dairy products during the six weeks unless specifically stated in the protocol.

    Step 2: The Lactagen™ Program
    Lactagen™ is taken with dinner for 18 days, and then with breakfast and dinner for another 16 days. On the final 4 days, milk and then other dairy products are re-introduced into the diet. The complete Lactagen™ process takes 38 days. A full transition to dairy products begins on day 39. Individuals are then free to eat whatever dairy they desire - symptom free!

    Step 3: Follow up to the Lactagen™ Process
    After completing all 38 days, start slowly re-introducing dairy products into your diet. There will be no need for lactase supplement pills or further use of Lactagen™. For the next six to eight weeks, you should have a healthy serving of dairy on a weekly basis. It is important to continue having dairy periodically to maintain tolerance.

    There's no reason this shouldn't work. My big question, though, is very simple: wouldn't this work exactly as well just by eating yogurt and skipping the Lactagen?

    This is a very big question, because - as you might expect of a product that claims you only need to take it once and be cured forever - it costs a lot of money. $149.95, to be exact, as of March 2009. Not including possible tax and shipping.

    For a true cure, of course, this is a trifling amount. A few bottles of lactase will run you this much in not too long a time.

    If you want to order, you can call 1- 888-DAIRY-OK (888-324-7965) or order through the link on their home page.

    For more info, email them at

    And if you do go through the whole 38-day program, please let me know all the details by emailing me at

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    Food Sensitivities Translation Cards

    Traveling is always a problem for those with lactose intolerance or other food issues, and traveling in countries where you don't speak the language is even worse.

    Here are two websites that provide cards pre-printed with translations of the questions you want to ask and the products you want to avoid.

    • SelectWisely provides a number of different cards, including Lactose Intolerance, Food Allergy , Vegetarian, AND Gluten-Free.

      On the Lactose Intolerance card page, you can get a translation from any of more than a dozen languages to any two of those languages. The card translates two statements:
      I am allergic to milk and all milk products (milk, butter, cheese).

      Does this food contain milk or milk products (milk, butter, cheese)?

      The price is $8.95 for two identical laminated cards.

    • A British web firm, , will create custom cards for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, celiac disease, or just about any combinations of foods you are sensitive to.

      The cards come standard with the following printed on them:
      I have an allergy/intolerance to:

      And all the derivatives.

      Eating foods, sauces, or garnishes containing these ingredients will make me ill.

      Can you assist me in making my choices from your menu?

      Anywhere from 1 to 8 risk foods can be included on the cards, available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

      The Classic Coeliac cards contain slightly different information.

      Custom Cards cost £7 each or £25 including free delivery for their Europack presenting all five languages in a handy wallet.

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    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Is There Lactose in Wine?

    I don't get too many questions these days that stump me, but one asking whether lactose was used as a fining agent in wine made me blink.

    Fining agent? What's that?

    Some Googling told me that fining agents are substances added to wine to bond to particles that can affect a wine's color, flavor, and stability. The particles and fining agent sink to the bottom of the container and can be easily removed from the wine.

    A million different fining agents are used by various people and for various reasons. However, lactose doesn't seem to be one of them.

    That's the good news.

    Some people do use the milk protein casein as a fining agent, however. Technically, since casein doesn't dissolve well in water, they used it in the form of potassium or sodium caseinate. But as I explain in my The Experts Speak page, neither caseinate contains lactose.

    And not even those with milk allergies should worry. The European Union has recently declared that the use of casein as a fining agent presents such a low risk that it need not be mentioned even under their new, stricter allergen labeling laws. Whey used in distillates for spirits does not need to be mentioned either. The bureaucratic details are available in this pdf.

    Vegans do consider this an animal-based item, however. There are vegan wines guaranteed not to use animal-derived products available and are easily found online.

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    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    Lactaid Changes Ultra to New Fast Act

    When I went to the supermarket the other day, I was surprised to find Lactaid Fast Act replacing the Ultra tabs I had been using. (Ultra strength Lactaid had 9000 FCC units of lactase, triple the strength of their regular pills. So do these new pills.)

    What is Fast Act? Accoring to the Lactaid site, Fast Act "starts working twice as fast as other Ultra strength supplements" and "it dissolves faster, so it goes to work sooner and breaks down more lactose than any Ultra strength product available."

    How? They don't say, of course. Not even their press release has any info. The technology is "revolutionary," though.

    The tablets look exactly the same as the old Ultras, and are also available in chewable form.

    Lactaid really wants you to try them. They have an offer for a free sample as well as one for a dollar-off coupon.

    I never go anyplace without lactase tablets in my pill case. If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you should always have them close at hand as well. The name on the brand doesn't matter much. You can choose by price, or type of pill, or strength. If one brand doesn't work, try another. But lactase pills, any lactase pills, make a huge difference.

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    Welcome to Planet Lactose

    Steve Carper here. My Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse is the biggest LI site on the web. Too big, in fact. Just updating a section now takes months of work and effort.

    Even with the Hot News sections, there was no good way to comment on all the little things that people want to know, the multiple of minor changes taking place in products, questions that need updated answers, rules and regulations that may concern those who try to avoid lactose, and the whole wide world of miscellaneous items that I want to comment on.

    What you get with Planet Lactose is newer and faster news on all things lactose. Even better, blogs provide an outlet for comments so everyone can see your feedback.

    Never fear. The
    Clearinghouse is still a going concern. You'll be able to switch over there with a click of the mouse.

    Have fun here. I know I will.

    Steve Carper

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