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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Lactose Intolerant Superhero?

I started reading Marvel Comics with Fantastic Four #8, back in 1963. I had already been reading comic books for years, with Superman and Batman as my heroes, even though those books were going through the worst period of their 60-year history. I was too young to know or care. But the Fantastic Four looked and sounded nothing like the DC heroes. I started sporadically buying Marvel. I wasn't hooked immediately, though. I remember one time that I was sick and asked my father to buy me a Superman comic when he went to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine. Somehow he returned with the first issue of some new comic called Spider-Man. It was so totally awful that I traded it away for a 25¢ DC Giant, and was very proud of myself.

Despite that, I soon became one of the Marvel fanatics and stopped buying DC comics entirely. As I got older and learned more about how comics were put together I worshipped the amazing Stan Lee, someone who could write 8 – 10 full comic books every month and make each of them special, exciting, funny, and chock-full of ideas.

Poor Stan. He didn't know what he was starting, or that his life would be taken over by cheesier and cheesier versions of his galactic-level ideas. Now he's the host of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? If you've somehow missed the endless promos, that's a reality show on the Sci-Fi channel, in which a dozen idiots in underwear are competing to be the star of a comic book and movie based on their character. And one of them is one of us, as explained in this article from the San Bernardino Sun.

By contrast, Major Victory's abilities seem to be limited to speaking in a deep bass voice reminiscent of a caffeinated radio announcer and filling out his red spandex uniform. Watters admits his character has his drawbacks: "I have a hearing loss, I'm lactose intolerant and have bad athlete's foot.''

And if you think that makes him weak and helpless, he'll be in even worse shape if he wins:
"The winner has no rights: You should see the contract our lawyers drew up,'' Lee says with a cackle.

Even superheroes, it seems, are powerless against attorneys.

Even lactase pills can't alleviate that horrible a symptom.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Breastfed Babies Avoid Allergies

Breastfeed your baby.

Seriously. It's important. Breastfeeding is not just healthier, it helps children avoid allergy problems, according to a consensus statement on infant feeding released this week by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Solid foods of all types should be avoided for the first six months, and certain items -- like cow's milk, eggs, fish, and nuts -- should not be introduced until even later. The consensus statement is published in the July issue of the organization's journal, Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

The committee also made the following recommendations, as listed on

• Staple foods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, soy, and cereal be introduced "individually and gradually" to lessen allergy risk.

• Mixed foods containing a variety of potentially allergenic foods should be avoided until the baby's tolerance to each ingredient is known.

• Beef, vegetables, and fruits should initially be given in the form of prepared baby foods that are cooked and homogenized. Studies suggest these processed foods are less likely to cause allergies than their fresh counterparts.

One big question remains: if breastfeeding is so important, why are Americans – including American women – hysterical over seeing a nursing breast?

The magazine babytalk featured a photo of a baby nursing on its August 2006 cover. No nipple can even be seen. Just the baby and a round lump of flesh that we know to be a breast only through logic.

Yet an article by AP's Jocelyn Noveck, found at, revealed that the women, mothers!, who are the magazine's audience went bananas over the cover.
"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third. ...

One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.

"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that." …

"Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob," wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old.

I guess we'll be seeing more babies with bottles of formula in their mouths in the future. And more allergies after that. And the mothers will wonder why.

Breastfeed your baby. And do it in public. Often. If everybody does it, people will stop noticing or caring. And everybody will win.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Allergen-Free Recipe Column Debuts on

Cybele Pascal emailed to tell me that she has a new allergy-free recipe column on

Who's Cybele Pascal? Here's her bio:

Hi! I'm the author of the award winning best-seller, The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook: 200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family, the first cookbook to eliminate all 8 allergens responsible for 90% of food allergies. While being diagnosed with food allergies can feel like the end of your gastronomic party, I'm living proof, that a restricted diet does not mean deprivation. After my son Lennon was diagnosed with multiple food allergies in 2001, I had to change many of the ingredients I cooked with, but I never stopped making the same kinds of recipes. And it has become my goal to provide delicious allergen-free versions of just about any recipe you can imagine for the 12 million Americans living with food allergies, so that no-one need ever feel deprived. I have found my way around using the top 8 food allergens (dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish) with delicious and healthy results. No challenge is too daunting, except perhaps a cheese soufflé!

She maintains a blog here on blogspot, called The Whole Food Allergy Cookbook.

To see if these recipes are for you, check out this dairy-free variation of a normally dairy-filled standard: Allergen-free, Gluten-free Pasta with Roast Cherry Tomatoes, Grilled Chicken, and Pesto. She suggests grilled tofu as a substitute for the chicken for vegans. Those with lactose intolerance or dairy protein allergy can try it either way.

Healthy portions are smaller than normal-sized ones, but I do wonder about a recipe that serves 8 calling for only 1 pound of chicken and 1 pound of rice or pasta. That's 2 ounces of each per person. Even I don't eat that little at a meal and I can make a standard restaurant serving last through two take-home portions. The accompanying picture surely has a larger serving than that.

The other big problem is itself. On its About Us page it says:
LIME brings multi-platform programming to the next generation of media consumers who want to live smarter, more connected, and more exciting lives. But you can enjoy LIME even if you don't own every latest gadget, because LIME fits into your life, your way. You can find us wherever you want us.

That means LIME Television, LIME Radio, LIME Online, LIME On Demand, LIME Mobile, and LIME podcasts-so far. DVDs, books, and lifestyle products are on the way, and as new technologies come along, LIME will be there too.

Sound like a lot? Well, picture this. You can watch a two-minute LIME video online from Deepak Chopra with your morning coffee, read a quick news story in between diaper changes on your cell phone, and then try out a healthy new recipe from LIME over the weekend on LIME TV or laugh out loud while listening to a LIME Radio podcast.

Somebody is putting in a lot of money. And getting very little out. None of the links on that page to Lime services work.

My bet is that you won't find around next year. So start printing out those recipes now.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cheezly "Super-Melting" Soy Cheese

People who like cheese love to torture the stuff. Put it in ovens. Melt it over foods. Cheese isn't cheese unless it's bending and twisting and slopping all over the place.

But you what makes cheese melt? The dairy protein casein. That's why even many soy "cheeses" aren't vegan and can't be eaten by those with dairy protein allergies. True non-dairy cheese doesn't melt like the real stuff.

So it's little wonder that all the vegan sites in the U.K. went suddenly limp when the Redwoods Company announced its Cheezly "super-melting" soy cheese in 2004.

The award-winning Redwood Company has extended its popular Cheezly range of dairy-free ‘cheeses’ with five new super-melting varieties.

Described as ‘heaven on toast’ by one reviewer, Redwood’s tasty new ‘cheeses’ include super-melting Cheddar and Mozzarella style slices, as well as blocks in Edam, Gouda and Mozzarella flavours.
Soya-based and gluten-free, Redwood’s new super-melting ‘cheeses’ are perfect for vegetarians and vegans as well as people with special dietary needs, including those who are lactose intolerant or have wheat allergies.

“What makes these cheese alternatives stand out is that they not only taste good, they also melt well when cooked,” says Redwood director Keith Stott. “This marks a major technological breakthrough.”

Redwood’s new super-melting ‘cheeses’ are ideal for use in sandwiches, in dishes such as lasagne, on toast and in omelettes, cheese sauces and fondues. They can also be melted on top of pizzas and grated over jacket potatoes.

Other ‘cheeses’ in Redwood’s Cheezly range include Cheezly with Garlic, Cheddar Style Cheezly with added bacon-style pieces – which is flavoured with Redwood’s award-winning veggie ‘bacon’ – and traditional Red and White Cheddar Styles.

Available in selected supermarkets, good health food stores or from Redwood’s online shop (

The Cheezly page has even more good claims:
If you love cheese but can't or won't eat dairy, Cheezly is for you. A really tasty alternative to cheese, Cheezly is TOTALLY free from animal ingredients. So it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans, as well as people who are lactose or casein intolerant. What's more, there are no nasties. Cheezly is also free from hydrogenated fats, gluten*, artificial colours/preservatives, cholesterol and GMOs. It comes in all manner of flavours and styles including award-winning new super melting varieties. (* except White Cheddar with bacon-style pieces)

Another breakthrough from Europe. C'mon, U.S. food scientists. Get back in those labs and cook us up something dairy free and tasty for the home market.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stuck on You Allergy Packs

Every once in a while you come across one of those great slap-your-forehead why-didn't-I-think-of-that ideas. Stuck on You is just that kind of site.

The Australian company makes stick on labels of all sorts that you can iron or sew on your kids clothes.

Iron On Labels, Clothing Labels & Kids Labels

With our clothing labels and other personalised kids labels your kids will never lose their belongings again! Stuck On You produce an all Australian made range of vinyl stick-on or fabric iron-on labels. They're bright and easy to read with fun icons to choose from. Our quality vinyls, fabrics and adhesives are second to none so our labels stay put in the dishwasher, microwave or washing machine. Kids love them for their designs, Mums love them for their practicality. Innovative shoe labels, pencil labels and bag tags ensure your kids are sorted from childcare to school and sporting club.

When it comes to birthdays, Christmas or a special occasion, the Stuck on You range of personalised notepads are a fantastic gift idea. Choose from 16 brilliant and colourful designs, whether you're into fairies, rockets, surfing or butterflies - there's something for everyone. Stuck on You Skinprints are colourful non-toxic tattoos, they're easy to apply and easy to remove, a hit with kids and adults alike! Brightly coloured Gift labels put an end to buying gift cards and are much better value for money, peel and stick the label to any gift.

Best of all, from our point of view, is their allergy packs. For $44.95 you get:

    • 50 sticky dots that say "I'm a Dairy-free Kid" (Nut-Free and Egg-Free packs also available).
    • 50 "create your own" labels with the dairy-free icon.
    • 12 "I'm a Dairy-Free Kid" Stick with Me wrist bands
    • 1 allergy-free bag top with the dairy-free icon.

All labels are in red, one name per pack.

It's dairy allergy-oriented, obviously, but the I'm a Dairy-Free Kid slogan works for kids with lactose intolerance or other milk-related problems as well.

The site is international, with separate versions for Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, United Arab, Emirates, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, USA, France, and "Others." Each page is in the appropriate language.

Navigating the site is not particularly easy, unfortunately. To get to the allergy pack you have to:

    1) double click on the country of your choice
    2) double click on the menu bar that reads "stuck on you value packs"
    3) click on the menu bar that read "stuck on you allergy pack"
    4) double click on the cow icon for a dairy pack
    5) change the number of packs that you want from 0 to a number so that the form to fill out the information appears.

I was never sure whether I had to click or double click. Just persevere.

It's ugly design, but it gets you there in the end. It's a little late in the end to grab these for camp, but the stick-ons are good for the whole school year and for any traveling.

A great idea. Let me know if you find it works for you.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

So Good Soy Cones

Canada knows from cold, and so you might think that they'd know from frozen desserts too.

So far, So Good. Exactly. Vancouver's SoyaWorld makes a whole line of dairy-free, lactose-free, and casein-free soy products under the So Good brand.

New this summer are cones with their So Good frozen dessert in chocolate and vanilla.

So Good Non-Dairy Frozen Cones have two delicious flavours that will have you asking for more. The rich flavours will satisfy all of your cravings. The So Good Non-Dairy Frozen Cones are low in saturated fat and free of lactose and cholesterol.

You can also get five flavors – Boysenberry Swirl, Butterscotch Swirl, Chocolate Supreme, Creamy Vanilla, and Simply Strawberry, in 945 ml cartons.

You can find the company on the net at Or use any of the following ways to get in touch.


Mailing Address:

SoyaWorld Inc.
P.O. Box 3018
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 3X5

Toll-Free Consumer Services Line: 1-888-401-0019

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Study May Lead to Better Food Allergy Test

Here's major news for those who might be suffering from dairy allergies.

Allergy testing today is difficult and invasive. Some tests don't work very well, leading to false positives – those who are told they have an allergy when they don't – and false negatives – those who are told they don't have an allergy when they do. And skin pricks and food challenges are uncomfortable at best.

Amazingly, a test that involves no more than identifying a protein from stool samples may be possible, according to a paper that was published in the July 2006 issue of the medical journal Gastroenterology.

The paper was published under the ungainly title of "Transcytosis of IgE–Antigen Complexes by CD23a in Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells and Its Role in Food Allergy," by Hongxing Li, Anna Nowak–Wegrzyn, Zachary Charlop–Powers, Wayne Shreffler, Mirna Chehade, Sunil Thomas, Giulia Roda, Stephanie Dahan, Kirk Sperber, and M. Cecilia Berin.

A translation for the jargon-challenged can be found at

Food allergies often present a unique problem for allergy testing since not every patient has detectable levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in their serum, especially patients with delayed allergies. A number of reliable testing methods exist for food and other allergies, including skin tests and serum IgE tests, however, they may not accurately diagnose food allergies. The oral food challenge is considered the most accurate test for food allergies but is expensive to administer and has to be done in a controlled environment. Immunoglobulin (antibody) E is a protein produced by plasma cells (or B-Cells , a type of lymphocyte ), which is designed to control the immune response in extracellular fluids by binding to substances in the body that are recognized as foreign.

The study, conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, showed for the first time that CD23, a protein normally expressed in a person's intestinal tract, acts as a receptor for IgE, a protein associated with allergic reactions, and enables it to participate in food-allergic reactions.

"We believe that the presence of CD23 may provide a surrogate method of looking at the gut without invasive tests like biopsies," according to M. Cecilia Berin, PhD, assistant professor, pediatrics/allergy and immunology, Mount Sinai and lead author of the study….

Researchers collected stool samples from nine pediatric patients (age range three to 17 years) who underwent an oral food challenge, during which they were administered either egg or milk in a controlled environment. All patients had a history of allergies to these foods and had reacted positively through other testing methods. Their symptoms, which occurred less than two hours after the food challenge, included skin reactions, breathing problems and gastrointestinal problems or a combination. They were matched to five pediatric controls with no food allergies.

It was a small scale study of just a few young patients, so the results are extremely preliminary, but they are promising.

Better tests have been needed for years, but allergies are so tricky and manifest in so many different ways that a general test has always been out of reach. Whether that's truly changed or whether this is an unfortunately blind alley will take several more years of testing. If it does work, however, it'll be the best news in the allergy field for some time.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

More Dairy Debate

Similar to yesterday's post, Udder Confusion is a UK article from The Independent newspaper, "The Dairy Debate." [Archieved here.]

It also lists various pros and cons about dairy. And one section is especially important for those who want to stay away for the white stuff:

How to stay healthy without milk
There are plenty of non-dairy sources of calcium. The major ones are dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, bok choy and watercress. Dried fruits, such as figs (250mg calcium per six figs) will also increase your calcium intake. Eat them alongside seeds and nuts, particularly almonds and brazils, sesame seeds and tahini (which contains a massive 680mg of calcium per 100g), and you'l definitely be covering your calcium RDA (800mg). Pulses, including soya beans, kidney beans, chick peas, baked beans, broad beans, lentils, peas and calcium-set tof (500mg calcium per 250g) are also good sources of calcium. Most nutritionists agree that pulses, tofu and regular servings of fish can amply make up the protein content in any dairy-free diet.

There's also an extensive range of dairy substitutes to choose from. Milk alternatives range from soya to oat and rice milk, and there's a range of non-dairy cheeses made from soya and tofu. Many margarines are dairy free. Good brands include Pure and Suma, which make soya and sunflower spreads, and Biona, which makes an organic olive spread. You can also find dairy-free yogurts and ice creams, and even chocolate, made from dairy substitutes such as soya and hemp.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Udder Confusion

The respected UC Berkeley Wellness Letter is a good place to find down-the-middle information on both sides of medical "controversies," even if the controversies are sometimes just propaganda masquerading as science.

The article Udder Confusion looks at many of the myths that have grown up around milk. Here's a couple of the most pertinent debunkings of interest to those of us who are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies.

Claim: Milk boosts mucus production in the throat.

The scientific evidence says no. This myth may persist because of whole milk's thick consistency and because it may coat the mouth briefly. In one Australian study, subjects (many of them believers in the milk-mucus link) were given either chocolate-flavored cow's milk or an indistinguishable soy milk. About one-third of them reported that the cow's milk coated their tongue and throat, made them swallow a lot, and/or made their saliva feel thicker. But a similar proportion of those who drank the soy milk reported these same sensations, so the dairy product wasn't to blame. If you don't like the way whole milk coats your tongue, or if it feels as if it makes mucus hard to swallow, this is yet another reason to switch to low-fat or nonfat milk.

Claim: People who have problems digesting lactose can eat or drink no dairy products.

Many people who believe they can't digest any lactose (milk sugar) without bloating and discomfort are not really lactose-intolerant. Moreover, as we've reported, studies show that even those who truly are lactose-intolerant are able to digest a cup or two of milk a day, if consumed at meals, with few if any symptoms. Beyond that, they can turn to lactose-reduced milk (store-bought or homemade).

But be sure to read the rest of the article to check out the other myths and mythinformation that they properly squelch.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tony's Lactose Free Cookbook

While I'm talking about the UK, I need to put in a mention for Tony's Lactose Free Cookbook, by Professor Anthony K Campbell and Stephanie B Matthews.

The website tells us that the book includes:

• Tony’s remarkable story
• What is lactose, lactase and lactose intolerance?
• Why 4000 million people can’t digest lactose properly
• The scandal of ‘hidden’ lactose in food and drink
• How to tell if you or your family are lactose intolerant
• Tables and figures with vital facts and scientific data about lactose

• Over 100 mouth watering recipes for starters, main courses and desserts
• Tony’s cooking tips, as well as do's and dont's
• A wine suggestion with every dish
• Soya and milk substitutes

• The extraordinary explanation of the illness that affected Charles Darwin for over 40 years
• How this story is going to revolutionise modern medicine

• A comprehensive reading list
• Colour photos of some of the recipes
• Useful web sites
• A bibliography for further reading

The Welston Press appears to be their own self-publishing empire, almost all of it about lactose. Ones that we would be most interested in include:
Other publications
• Anthony Campbell and Stephanie Matthews (2001). Lactose intolerance and the MATHS:syndrome: what are they and how can I cope? Pp 32. Welston Press, Pembrokeshire. ISSN 1474-6794, ISBN 0-9540866-0-0). Available now.

• Stephanie Matthews and Anthony Campbell. The hundred commonly asked questions in the lactose intolerance clinic. Available 2006.

Key references
• Matthews SB, Campbell AK. Lactose Intolerance in the Young: A New Perspective. Welsh Paediatric J. 2004; 20:56-66.

• Matthews SB, Waud J, Roberts A and Campbell AK (2005). Systemic lactose intolerance: a new perspective on an old problem. Post Grad. Med. J. 81:167-183.

You can't seem to place a direct electronic order for any of the books at the Welston Press site, but it should easily be available.
All publications are available from the Windsor Bookshop.

Cheques in pounds sterling only please, made payable to ‘Windsor Bookshop’ and sent to:

Windsor Bookshop
9a Windsor Road
Vale of Glamorgan
CF64 1JB

Tel: +44 (0)29 2070 6455 FAX: +44 (0)29 2070 6177


Online ordering: Windsor Bookshop

You can also get it directly from but not

I thought that I had added this book to my site a long time ago, but possibly I heard about it before it was available and then let it slip my mind. Thanks to Georgina for reminding me. I think - there goes my memory again - that this is the first UK lactose intolerance book of any kind, so it's a major step from them over there.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Allergen Guidelines in the UK to Make Foods Safer

When I learned I was lactose intolerant (LI) in 1978, I had literally never heard the term before. That was just a few years after the notion that the vast majority of human beings on the planet were in fact LI hit the medical world like a grant-funding bombshell. In the 1970s doctors went to every corner of the earth to test native and ethnic populations, discovering high percentages of lactose intolerance everywhere except for northern Europe.

In the 1980s, products aimed at the lactose intolerant begin hitting store shelves in the U.S. Lactaid pills were the big breakthrough in 1984, although Lactaid powder and a few other small brands were there first. In the 1990s, Lactaid and Dairy Ease went head-to-head on television with multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, making lactose intolerance known to just about everybody.

In the U.S., that is. In the U.K. and much of the rest of Europe, the explosion never took place. No big ad campaigns combined with a much smaller percentage of the public who were genetically LI meant that the issue never quite gained any prominence.

And that also meant one other major distinction. The U.K. government never required changes in the labeling laws that forced food and drug manufacturers to list all potential cross-contamination factors, similar to the The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that went into effect in the U.S. on January 1, 2006.

Georgina sent me an email from the U.K. in which she said:

One of the main problems I have found in the UK is you can get caught out very easily. They may be better in the US, but here the food industry is very bad at labelling foods. It is improving slowly but they seem to add lactose to almost everything and not put it on the ingredient, or they label it as sugar or whey, salt and vinegar crisps for instance and even the birth control pill. The information on your site is very interesting because when I asked my pharmacist for a lactose free pill they claimed there wasn’t one and on some pills, because it is not an active ingredient, it is just labelled as a filler!

The timing is great because there's news. The U.K.'s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has just issued a report, Guidance on Allergen Management and Consumer Information: Best Practice Guidance on Managing Food Allergens with Particular Reference to Avoiding Cross-Contamination and Using Appropriate Advisory Labels (e.g. "May Contain Labelling), a cheery 63 pages of bureaucratic lawyer-proof guidance. summarizes the report's import:
The allergen management and advisory labelling guidance, which is voluntary, uses examples of 'best practice' to help businesses of all sizes provide appropriate advisory labels that are clearer for consumers to understand.

It is also designed to help businesses assess the risk of cross-contamination with allergens.

"Up to 1.5 million people in the UK have food allergies, and it is vital that they are fully informed about the contents of the foods they are buying," said Sue Hattersley, head of the FSA's food allergy branch.

"Advisory labelling should only be used when, following a thorough risk assessment, there is a real risk of allergen cross-contamination. Excessive use of warning labels about the possible presence of allergens, can restrict consumer choice and devalue the impact of warning labels."

Indeed, the agency claims that a variety of warnings such as 'may contain nuts' are used so widely on pre-packed foods that many consumers are unable to assess the risks and simply ignore them. Unlike the situation for deliberately added ingredients, there are no statutory controls governing the labelling of the possible presence of allergens due to cross-contamination of foods along the supply chain.

These recommendations will take current regulations one step farther:
Allergen labelling regulations that came into force on 25 November require companies to label all pre-packed foods if they contain any of the 12 listed allergenic foods as an ingredient. The mandatory inclusion on food labels of the most common food allergen ingredients and their derivatives covers cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soybeans, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.

As a result of these consumer concerns, the UK free-from food market, including dairy-, gluten- and wheat-free products, is set to double, according to market analyst Mintel. …

Meanwhile, dairy-free products are valued at £32 million, with sales of products such as soy milk and yoghurts growing by 28 per cent over the same three year period.

You can also take a look at the numbers I posted in April in "Free From" Foods Grow in Sales.

What are the practical implications of these regulations for consumers like Georgina? Mark Tyler and Jessica Burt wrote the following for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. Registration is required for the full article.
The guidance also provides a useful breakdown of measures relating to "allergen free" claims. A positive claim (e.g. gluten free) is often regarding by consumers as meaning a guarantee of a complete absence; whereas usually this only means that samples of the food were shown to be below the analytical limit of detection for that allergen on one or more occasion. The FSA confirm that appropriate limits for a claim that a product is free from a particular allergen can be set. It is also stated that if manufacturers produce lists of foods free from particular allergens, these should be regularly reviewed and updated.

An example of the potential pitfalls of "allergen free" labelling may be found earlier this year in relation to the nutritional information providing by McDonalds on their french fries, which stated they were dairy, wheat and gluten free. This was amended, to much public outcry and threatened lawsuits, and then reversed after further testing. Food producers need to be aware that as soon as a positive assertion is made it is their responsibility to substantiate this claim, check that food complies with it and keep this under regular review; in particular in respect of changing suppliers, processes and testing methods.

The provision of an incorrect claim would open a food producer up to potential food safety and consumer protection litigation as well as potential damage to brand reputation. The making of an allergen free claim is therefore a commercial decision for each food producer based on an appropriately documented quality system. To this end, the guidance on allergen management and consumer information will be a useful practice to follow to illustrate best practice in due diligence.

While it appears that the lawyers will be arguing "best practice" for the foreseeable future, guidance such as this will make a significant difference for those with dairy allergy, among other allergies, and those who have problems with lactose. And with both the U.S. and U.K. moving in this direction, it wouldn't surprise me if the European Union were shortly to follow. Some bureaucracy really is good for everybody.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Myths About Lactose Intolerance

Since I complain so loudly when people get the facts about lactose intolerance wrong, it's only fair that I compliment the ones who get them right.

The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette, LA, published an unfortunately uncredited article, Learn the truth about lactose intolerance, that debunked some common myths about LI and also gave a list of "Easy Ways to Enjoy Milk and Milk Products If You're Lactose Intolerant."

All the advice is straight from the book (i.e. my book: Milk Is Not for Every Body) so it looks good. And they credit the information to the LSU AgCenter, which means that even doctors, notoriously slow to understand LI, have finally caught on.

Good work, all.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Vegan World Fusion Cuisine

Next time you happen to be passing through Hawaii (is that four subway stops or five)…

Who am I kidding? Getting to Europe from upstate New York is ten times easier - and cheaper – than traveling to Hawaii. So a visit to Mark Reinfeld's Blossoming Lotus restaurants and his ideas of Vegan Fusion cuisine isn't likely to happen real soon. (Though maybe the one in Portland, OR, or the one coming soon to Mountain View, CA.)

What I really liked is the ideas in Jeff Yang's article on musing about what is needed to attract people to vegan foods, using Reinfeld's restaurants as a launching pad.

Unfortunately, for those of us used to the ways of the flesh, the vegan path is a difficult one to walk. I have my share of veggie friends and relatives -- Hindus, Buddhists and health junkies -- and I've tried to make the transition. But meat and dairy, like any other delightfully unhealthy addiction, are hard habits to break, and the vegan equivalent of nicotine patches -- the meat and dairy substitutes that vegans call analogues -- are consistent in that they provide an experience that's almost totally unlike the products they're trying to emulate. (In fact, the only thing that doesn't taste like chicken when you cook it is vegan "chikken.")

There are other problems with analogues. As anyone who's ever eaten at a Buddhist-style Chinese restaurant knows, the art and science of getting things that are not meat to look, feel and taste like meat often involves saturating perfectly good vegetable matter with sodium, fats and nitrates. And at the end of the day, there's something a bit dubious about going vegan but relying excessively on the crutch of "veat." ...

[At the restaurants] It's all market-fresh fare prepared according to strict vegan principles, incorporating a diverse and cross-pollinated variety of cooking styles and flavors. The vegan world fusion palette intersperses Asian ingredients from Indian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese food traditions with those of Greek, Italian and Tex-Mex cuisine. Though the names of the dishes are familiar (spanakopita, burritos, pasta and spring rolls all make an appearance), the focus is on flavor rather than verisimilitude: Analogues are used sparingly, though the references to "cheez" and "mylk" still pop up on occasion. …

Good vegan food is something totally different -- inspired by carnivore cuisine but in a category unto itself, a bold variation on the theme. And that, ultimately, is Blossoming Lotus's big magical secret. …

"At the end of the day, we want to offer this option as just another alternative," says [Reinfeld's partner] Zingaro. "We're not asking you to 'convert.' We're not preaching to you. It's really great food -- enjoy it! And maybe if you enjoy it enough, you'll make the decision to go vegan on your own."

That's the right philosophy, and one that all of the pioneers trying to develop dairy-free versions of foods should take to heart. I don't eat bad versions of "normal" food: I make my own dishes designed not to need dairy to taste right. Dairy-free isn't a punishment. It's an excuse to release your creativity. If you're lactose intolerant, or allergic, or vegan, pamper your taste buds with fresh foods and creative combinations. Or at least seek out those who do it well.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Slice Non-Dairy Pizza

Yet another restaurant featuring specialty non-dairy food? Could it be a… revolution?

Nah. But compared to zero anything is still nice to have.

The latest entry into the pizza wars is Slice, in New York City. According to the article by Anita Malik in EastWest Magazine Slice is the brainchild of "Miki Agrawal, a former semi-professional soccer player who has been on a quest to eat her favorite foods despite being lactose intolerant."

The menu features Slice’s proven pizza combinations or patrons can opt to put together their own pie, choosing from three healthy crusts – honey whole wheat, spelt and unbleached herb. There are also several organic, homemade sauces, organic and/or dairy-free cheeses and creative toppings such as tofu, sautéed veggies — including broccoli and caramelized onions — and organic free-range chicken.

“It is pizza that tastes good and is good for you,” Agrawal says while noting that most of the pizza made in the market today contains bleached flour and ingredients she says are full of fat and sugar.

Organic and low fat is definitely not a novel concept. A chicken and organic mozzarella pizza, for example, seems likely to fly with today’s consumers. But what about Slice’s vegan options? Can the concept of pies made with dairy-free cheeses really catch on? Agrawal says yes, adding that the statistics reveal a great need for what Slice is cutting up.

Followed by the true but thoroughly misleading stat that one in five Americans has lactose intolerance. Sure, but how many of them will eat a soy cheese pizza? Remind me to check back in a year or so and see if Slice is still in business.

In the meantime, Agrawal has some tips at making dairy-free pizza at home:
• When using veggies, sauté first. Don’t put raw veggies on your pizza, cook them first before the pie hits the oven.

• If you are going to use soy or rice cheese, cook the pizza without the cheese first. Put the cheese on only at the end because soy and rice cheeses burn faster due to lower fat content.

• Always keep on eye on your crust when baking. Timing is the key to a great crust.

1413 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(212) 249-4353

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Low-Fat Dairy Study Sparks Ignorance by Dairy Haters

One of the hardest things to do in the world of medicine is to determine the role that any one particular food plays in overall health.

Most of these longitudinal epidemiological studies are compromised by trying to tease out one food's effects in the huge range of diets, lifestyles, locations, occupations, and overall health of the respondents. Even the best of these, which may be The Nurses' Health Study, has run afoul of the changing notions of what makes for good health. The nurses, who keep detailed diaries of their food intake along with other habits, couldn't know at the beginning of the study in 1976 that trans fats may be an issue to keep track of. There would have been probably no way to do so if they had.

So I try not to jump on any individual study that proclaims the advantages or disadvantages of milk. I've seen too many of these studies either invalidated or moderated by subsequent reports.

For that reason, I don't set much store in a recent study published in Diabetes Care 2006 Jul;29(7):1579-84., A prospective study of dairy intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women, by Liu S, Choi HK, et al.

As Reuters reported, Low-fat dairy may lower women’s diabetes risk: Preliminary research shows trend, mirrors results shown for men:

[Liu and his colleagues] therefore looked for the relationship between type 2 diabetes and dietary levels of dairy foods and calcium in 37,183 women in the Women’s Health Study. A total of 1,603 women developed diabetes during an average follow-up of 10 years.

“The most important finding is that women who consumed more low-fat dairy foods tended to experience a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in a period of 10 years,” Liu told Reuters Health.

However, Liu and colleagues caution that further studies are needed to confirm their observations “before public health measures to increase dairy consumption can be recommended for prevention of type 2 diabetes.”

This is medicine at its best. A major long-term study on a population so sizable that comparisons can be made, followed by a caution that even so the results are still preliminary and no general public changes in diet can yet be called for.

So what's the problem?

This. Milk - It Does a Body Good? by Regina Wilshire on

Wilshire appears to lack all understanding of how a study such as this operates. The only way to separate out the effects of one particular food or medicine or physical routine is to try to control all the rest of the variables. This is absolutely standard in any epidemiological study. But to Wilshire, this somehow invalidates the results:
When I first started to read through the data, I was struck by just how many confounding factors they "adjusted" to reach their significant findings!

• smoking status
• physical activity
• family history of diabetes
• alcohol consumption
• history of hypertension
• use of hormones
• high cholesterol

They didn't add IF you're normal weight, don't smoke, are active, don't have a family history of diabetes, drink in moderation, don't have a family history of high blood pressure, aren't using hormones and don't have high cholesterol. Basically, they forgot to add the findings apply to those who are in good health!

Which begs the question - was it the inclusion of dairy or was it an overall better dietary and lifestyle pattern that kept these women in good health?

No it doesn't. Controlling for confounding factors doesn't limit the study to just people in wonderfully good health. It just tries to set one factor against a neutral background.
I hate to say it, but this isn't science. If you ask me, it seems more like a manipulation of data to promote the dairy industry and the consumption of milk and dairy products.

I hate to say it, but Wilshire has let her bias toward milk overcome any understanding of how science works. To her, apparently, if a study comes out in favor of milk it must be wrong.

What is most bothersome is that she may be right for the wrong reasons. As I said in the beginning, and as Liu himself said, one study, even a good study, is not proof, and is most definitely not the last word. There may not be a connection between low-fat dairy foods and lowered risk of diabetes, or the connection may be weak and not applicable to most. If there is a connection, however, than those with lactose intolerance who still consume dairy have to have this important piece of knowledge. It indicates that taking lactase if you are lactose intolerant to retain dairy in the diet is a good road to health.

That is the real issue. Bias for or against a food, especially a hot-button one like milk, should never get in the way of understanding the underlying science. If you don't know enough about medicine to make a knowledgeable critique, don't spread fear and ignorance around the net.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Yogurt, Yoghurt, and Yougurt

I've been advocating yogurt for years as a way to get dairy into your diet for those who are lactose intolerant. The live and active cultures used in yogurt digest the lactose that is in the dairy and render it mostly symptom free. The lactose is then fermented into lactic acid, which gives the tart taste. From Wikipedia:

To be named yoghurt, the product should at least contain the bacteria Streptococcus salivarius ssp thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus official name Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus). Often these are co-cultured with other lactic acid bacteria for either taste or health effects (probiotics). These include L. acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium species.

But I've also warned that modern yogurts in the United States pander to the sweet-lovers among consumers by adding sugar and extra milk products that reduce the benefits of the "good" bacteria. You should also remember that heat-treating or pasteurizing yogurt destroys these bacteria. Always look for the words "live and active" on the package., run by Dr. Bob Sears, has a great page on yogurt. It includes:
10 Reasons Yogurt is a Top Health Food
How to Buy the Healthiest Yogurt: 5 Tips
5 Ways to Use Yogurt as a Nutritious Substitute
6 Health Benefits of Lactobacteria

I'm tempted to quote at length, but there's too much to excerpt. Go there and read for yourself. For those who are too impatient, here's the skinny: low-sugar is better than high sugar; low-fat is better than high fat; high calcium is better than low calcium; fewer additives are better than more additives. Find the balance of these that tastes best for you, and then enjoy regularly. It'll do all those with lactose intolerance good.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lactose and Phlegm

Excuse while I bang my head against the wall.

So much misinformation.

I won't give any names, but here's a quote from an actress about problems acting during her pregnancy:

She also had morning sickness but kept it from interfering with her work by eating hourly, mainly the cheese that she craved--problematic because products with lactose can clog the throat.

No they can't. Lactose intolerance affects the intestines. Period.

According to this page, the myth that milk causes phlegm goes back to the writings of the 12th century rabbi, Maimonides, from his treatise On Ashtma. Who knew?

Modern medicine looks at it differently. It may be possible that certain people with cow's milk dairy protein allergies may produce more phlegm. There are a million reactions that allergies can cause.

It's much more likely that you simply don't get more phlegm from milk. You may feel a film if you drink milk, or eat cheese, or you may just have heard the myth and make a false association.

But lactose has nothing, but nothing, to do with it.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Special Diet Meals Available from Disney

The biggest kid-magnet in the universe must be Disney. With 10 million or more kids going through the gates at each Disney resort each year, even a tiny percentage can add up quickly.

Bob Mervine of the Orlando Business Journal reports that Walt Disney World offers a special diets program that can accommodate 15 types of food allergies, kosher meals, and low-sodium meals. The program started in 1993 and now serves 7-8,000 meals a month. You merely request the special meals when making meal reservations.

[Joel Schaefer, manager of the special diets department] works with chefs at each of the hundreds of Disney food locations to provide alternative ingredients that can be used to create allergy-free meals, ranging from soy ice cream to a specially blended batter for the Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles that are a signature breakfast dish.

Disney adds no service fee, even working with families who want to enjoy a buffet by individually preparing the food items the guest selects.

"It's simply a guest service," says Ed Wronski, executive chef for product development in Disney's food and beverage department.

More information about the program is available from All Ears Net.
1. When making an Advance Reservation (1-407-WDW-DINE), alert the Cast Member to your special needs, and they will make a note on the file.

2. Special dietary needs can be accommodated if requested at least 72 hours in advance at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). [Note: some sites say 24 hours. This site says that the advance time increased in 2005.]

The number at Disneyland is 714-781-DINE (714-781-3463).

At Disneyland Paris call Guest services Tel No: +33- (0)1 60 30 40 50. A food allergies guide is available at:

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