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 and my Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse are now legacy sites, meaning that I am not updating them any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

My old website can be found at

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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vegan Italiano

I'm been poking around more looking for other new cookbooks I haven't seen. That found me Donna Klein's Vegan Italiano: Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Dishes from Sun-Drenched Italy . (H.P. Trade paperback, 192 pages, $15.95 list price.)

They bill the book as:

Mangia-minus the meat and dairy-with these classic Italian dishes from the author of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

In the sumptuous style of classic Italian cuisine, this collection of delectably authentic recipes reinvents vegan. Mouth-watering dishes burst with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil-all within an animal-free diet, ideal for lactose-intolerant eaters and vegetarians, too.

Delicious Italian food was made for bountiful and flavor-filled variations, not weak substitutions-which is why none of these recipes calls for tofu, soy milk, or other ingredients that mimic meat, dairy, and eggs. Now readers can treat themselves to something scrumptious-even if they can't make it to Italy this year.

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is on my Vegan Cookbooks page in my Milk-Free Bookstore on my web site, along with another of Donna's books, The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook : 240 Healthy and Easy No-Prep Recipes for Busy Cooks.

I always have to make decisions where to put the cookbooks and the Vegan page was the obvious spot for this one. Of course, if you're lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies or are looking for pareve recipes, this book will be for you as well.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Cupcakes? Did anybody say cupcakes?

Even better, a cupcake cookbook that is getting five-star reviews with comments like "Divine, delicious and dairy-free"?

That's what they're saying about a newly released cookcook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. (Marlowe & Company, 144 pages, $15.95 list.)

Here's the official description:

The hosts of the vegan cooking show The Post Punk Kitchen are back with a vengeance — and this time, dessert. A companion volume to Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is a sweet and sassy guide to baking everyone’s favorite treat without using any animal products. This unique cookbook contains over 50 recipes for cupcakes and frostings — some innovative, some classics — with beautiful full color photographs.

Isa and Terry offer delicious, cheap, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan-friendly recipes like Classic Vanilla Cupcakes (with chocolate frosting), Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes (red velvet with creamy white frosting), Linzer Torte Cupcakes (hazelnut with raspberry and chocolate ganache), Chai Latte Cupcakes (with powdered sugar) and Banana Split Cupcakes (banana-chocolate chip-pineapple with fluffy frosting). Included also are gluten-free recipes, decorating tips, baking guidelines, vegan shopping advice, and Isa’s true cupcake anecdotes from the trenches. When Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, no dessert lover can resist.

I've just added the book to my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

If you're looking for dairy-free recipes, you'll find them there by the hundreds.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Enough with the Lactose Tolerance Jokes, He Sobbed

It all started with a flight attendant being offended by the back of a baby's head.

You'll remember the story from October, in which poor Emily Gillette was kicked off a Freedom Airlines plane for offending a flight attendant by breast-feeding her baby.

As Newsweek wrote:

her troubles began when she and her husband and their almost 2-year-old daughter River were traveling from Vermont to New York. Their flight was delayed three hours and anyone who has ever traveled with small children can guess what kind of condition little River was in when the family finally boarded their Freedom Airlines flight (booked through Delta Air Lines) at 10 p.m., well past the toddler’s normal bedtime. The family headed to their seats at the back of the little plane. Mother and daughter took the window seat in the second to last row; River’s dad took the aisle seat. As the plane was getting ready to move, Gillette tucked in next to the window and began to discreetly nurse River.

That’s when Gillette noticed the lone flight attendant holding out a blanket, telling Gillette that she needed to cover up. “I was holding my shirt closed with one hand. There was literally not a bit of my breast exposed,” she says. “I was being as discreet as possible.” When Gillette refused, Gillette says the flight attendant responded; “You are offending me. You need to cover up.” Gillette refused again. Gillette says the flight attendant huffed off, and returned with a ticket agent, who told the family that they were being thrown off the plane. The stunned Gillettes gathered their things and started moving toward the door. “Gillette started quietly crying,” says Elizabeth Beopple, Gillette’s Vermont-based lawyer. “She was so humiliated. As they left the plane, the fight attendant was standing there, and Gillette said in tears, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” According to the Gillettes, the flight attendant pointed to the door and said, “Get off the plane.”

Who thinks this way? Nobody else, fortunately. If you've never seen an airplane backpedaling, the spectacle of Freedom and parent Delta suddenly proclaiming women's rights one tiny grudging step at a time had been eminently satisfying. The flight attendant has been disciplined (how? by being strapped down while strippers take turns lapdancing?) and the incident may sink Delta in its battle to combat USAirways hostile takeover bid.

Well, bad cess on the muthering spalpeens, as S. J. Perelman was wont to say. You get what you deserve. In addition to the worldwide bad press, "lactivists" protested at some 30 airports, carrying signs like "Best in-flight meal ever" and "Got Breast Milk?" T-shirts.

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

It's all good. Except for me.

One of the other signs carried read "Don't be lactose intolerant." Articles have appeared with headlines like "Time is now for lactose tolerance."

You're driving me crazy! I search for this stuff. Getting a good hit on a story for this blog makes my day. Do you know what it feels like to see all those articles appear and have none of them be useful?

Stop it! I'm not the bad guy here. Delta is the big blue meanie. I'm on your side. Breastfeeding is a good thing. It should be done anywhere necessary. You don't even need to be discreet. It's natural, wholesome, and beneficial.

I am lactose intolerant. Just not that way. Let me go back to my tiny field of expertise and I promise to leave your breasts alone.

That didn't come out right, did it?

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Organic Myth

I'm a bit late getting to this, but I take Business Week magazine out of the library.

The cover story of their Oct. 16, 2006 issue was The Organic Myth by Diane Brady.

In it Brady details the current state of the organic foods market in the United States and in particular the strain that market is under as businesses try to scale up from tiny farms with small outputs to organics being available in every supermarket in the country.

Here are a few excerpts. I've limited them to discussions of organic milk, since it is often used for organic yogurts and people with lactose intolerance are often told to continue to eat yogurt, as a low-lactose and well-tolerated form of dairy product, to continue to get the calcium they need.

Next time you're in the supermarket, stop and take a look at Stonyfield Farm yogurt. With its contented cow and green fields, the yellow container evokes a bucolic existence, telegraphing what we've come to expect from organic food: pure, pesticide-free, locally produced ingredients grown on a small family farm.

So it may come as a surprise that Stonyfield's organic farm is long gone. Its main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, N.H., where it handles milk from other farms. And consider this: Sometime soon a portion of the milk used to make that organic yogurt may be taken from a chemical-free cow in New Zealand, powdered, and then shipped to the U.S. True, Stonyfield still cleaves to its organic heritage. For Chairman and CEO Gary Hirshberg, though, shipping milk powder 9,000 miles across the planet is the price you pay to conquer the supermarket dairy aisle. "It would be great to get all of our food within a 10-mile radius of our house," he says. "But once you're in organic, you have to source globally."


Everyone agrees on the basic definition of organic: food grown without the assistance of man-made chemicals. Four years ago, under pressure from critics fretting that the term "organic" was being misused, the U.S. Agriculture Dept. issued rules. To be certified as organic, companies must eschew most pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, and radiation. But for purists, the philosophy also requires farmers to treat their people and livestock with respect and, ideally, to sell small batches of what they produce locally so as to avoid burning fossil fuels to transport them. The USDA rules don't fully address these concerns.

Hence the organic paradox: The movement's adherents have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but success has imperiled their ideals. It simply isn't clear that organic food production can be replicated on a mass scale.


Farming without insecticides, fertilizers, and other aids is tough. Laborers often weed the fields by hand. Farmers control pests with everything from sticky flypaper to aphid-munching ladybugs. Manure and soil fertility must be carefully managed. Sick animals may take longer to get well without a quick hit of antibiotics, although they're likely to be healthier in the first place. Moreover, the yield per acre or per animal often goes down, at least initially. Estimates for the decline from switching to organic corn range up to 20%.


For a sense of why Big Business and organics often don't mix, it helps to visit Jack and Anne Lazor of Butterworks Farm. The duo have been producing organic yogurt in northeastern Vermont since 1975. Their 45 milking cows are raised from birth and have names like Peaches and Moonlight. All of the food for the cows -- and most of what the Lazors eat, too -- comes from the farm, and Anne keeps their charges healthy with a mix of homeopathic medicines and nutritional supplements. Butterworks produces a tiny 9,000 quarts of yogurt a week, and no one can pressure them to make more. Says Jack: "I'd be happiest to sell everything within 10 miles of here."

But the Lazors also embody an ideal that's almost impossible for other food producers to fulfill. For one thing, they have enough land to let their modest-sized herd graze for food. Many of the country's 9 million-plus dairy cows (of which fewer than 150,000 are organic) are on farms that will never have access to that kind of pasture. After all, a cow can only walk so far when it has to come back to be milked two or three times a day.

When consumers shell out premiums of 50% or more to buy organic, they are voting for the Butterworks ethic. They believe humans should be prudent custodians not only of their own health but also of the land and animals that share it. They prefer food produced through fair wages and family farms, not poor workers and agribusiness. They are responding to tales of caged chickens and confined cows that never touch a blade of grass; talk of men losing fertility and girls becoming women at age nine because of extra hormones in food. They read about pesticides seeping into the food supply and genetically modified crops creeping across the landscape.

For Big Food, consumers' love affair with everything organic has seemed like a gift from the gods. Food is generally a commoditized, sluggish business, especially in basic supermarket staples. Sales of organic groceries, on the other hand, have been surging by up to 20% in recent years. Organic milk is so profitable -- with wholesale prices more than double that of conventional milk -- that Lyle "Spud" Edwards of Westfield, Vt., was able to halve his herd, to 25 cows, this summer and still make a living, despite a 15% drop in yields since switching to organic four years ago. "There's a lot more paperwork, but it's worth it," says Edwards, who supplies milk to Stonyfield.


Dairy producers estimate that demand for organic milk is at least twice the current available supply. To quench this thirst, the U.S. would have to more than double the number of organic cows -- those that eat only organic food -- to 280,000 over the next five years. That's a challenge, since the number of dairy farms has shrunk to 60,000, from 334,000 in 1980, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. And almost half the milk produced in the U.S. comes from farms with more than 500 cows, something organic advocates rarely support.


Would consumers be willing to pay twice as much for organic milk if they thought the cows producing it spent most of their outdoor lives in confined dirt lots?

Absolutely not, say critics such as Mark Kastel, director of the Organic Integrity Project at the Cornucopia Institute, an advocacy group promoting small family farms. "Organic consumers think they're supporting a different kind of ethic," says Kastel, who last spring released a high-profile report card labeling 11 producers as ethically challenged.

Kastel's report card included Horizon Organic Dairy, the No. 1 organic milk brand in the U.S., and Aurora Organic Dairy, which makes private-label products for the likes of Costco and Safeway Inc. Both dairies deny they are ethically challenged. But the two do operate massive corporate farms. Horizon has 8,000 cows in the Idaho desert. There, the animals consume such feed as corn, barley, hay, and soybeans, as well as some grass from pastureland. The company is currently reconfiguring its facility to allow more grazing opportunities. And none of this breaks USDA rules. The agency simply says animals must have "access to pasture." How much is not spelled out. "It doesn't say [livestock] have to be out there, happy and feeding, 18 hours a day," says Barbara C. Robinson, who oversees the USDA's National Organic Program.

But what gets people like Kastel fuming is the fact that big dairy farms produce tons of pollution in the form of manure and methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide -- gases blamed for warming the planet. Referring to Horizon's Idaho farm, he adds: "This area is in perpetual drought. You need to pump water constantly to grow pasture. That's not organic."

What do you do as a concerned customer? First, you need to decide what your personal strictures are for organic foods. Are you a diehard supporter of family farms? Are you more concerned that larger farms work to improve their methods? Would you prefer to convert a large percentage of your food buying to organics or are you interested in certain foods that mean the most to you be organic?

If you do want to go all the way, here are a few tips.

*Try limiting your organic shopping to local health food stores rather than supermarkets. Most health or natural food stores need smaller quantities of foods so they can work with local farmers not big enough to supply whole chains.

*Check the websites of the companies for statements on their methods, their products, and their philosophies.

*Look to see whether the company is independent, owned by a larger natural foods company, or owned by a large food conglomerate. Stonybrook Farm, as the article states, is now owned by Group Danone, the maker of Yoplait and also of many other non-organic brands. Horizon Organic, Rachel's Organic, and Organic Cow of Vermont are all part of Dean Foods, which has been "criticized for running large corporate farms," according to Business Week.

*Always check for the USDA Organic label on the package.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Desensitizing Food Allergies Possible in New Study

An allergy happens when a protein causes antibodies to form in the body. The next time the body encounters that protein, the antibodies swing into action. This is good when the protein is on an attacking bacteria. When the protein is part of an otherwise useful and nourishing food, not so good.

So you might think that continual encounters with the protein would be a bad thing. Apparently not.

"Participants who took a daily dose of egg product over the two-year study period were able to build up their bodies' resistance to the point where most of them could eat two scrambled eggs without a reaction," said A. Wesley Burks, from Duke University Medical Center.

That quote is from Scientists look to 'desensitise' kids to food allergens by Stephen Daniells on the site.

The study is on-line ahead of print in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.09.016. "Egg oral immunotherapy in nonanaphylactic children with egg allergy" Authors: A. Buchanan, T. Green, S. Jones, A. Scurlock, L. Christie, K. Althage, P. Steele, L. Pons, R. Helm, L. Lee, A.W. Burks

The study was of a very small number of children, so it must be considered preliminary at best. However, the responses were promising.
The new claims from the Duke researchers and their collaborators at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are based on results from a small study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the two universities, of seven subjects (age range 1-7) who had a history of allergic reactions when they consumed eggs or egg products.

The participants were given small doses of powdered egg orally, mixed in food. "We started the subjects with a very small concentration of egg product - the equivalent of less than one-thousandth of an egg - and then we increased the dose every 30 minutes for eight hours in order to determine the highest dose that each subject could tolerate," explained Burks.

The children returned to the clinic every two weeks, and the researchers increased the doses until an equivalent of one-tenth of an egg was reached. This "maintenance dose" was continued for the rest of the study (24 months).

The researchers report that the children showed both an increase in tolerance to eggs and a decrease in the severity of their allergic reactions. Indeed, by the end of the study, the majority of the kids could tolerate two scrambled eggs with no adverse reactions.

This type of desensitization therapy, called oral immunotherapy (OIT) "works on a cellular level to alter specific the response of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that play a part in the immune response during allergic reactions."

Follow-up studies will be double-blind, giving a higher level of assurance to the results. Another study with higher doses of eggs is planned, and so is one using peanuts.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

More Christmas Nondairy

Vitasoy may have made the first splash ( see It's After Halloween So Time for Christmas Nondairy but they aren't the only ones putting out a line of holiday-themed soy drinks.

Coffee-mate, the nondairy coffee creamer from Nestlé,
does an annual "limited-time" Special Edition selection of winter flavors - Gingerbread, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint Mocha. They contain sodium caseinate, so they're not suitable for those with dairy allergies or for vegans, and they are not pareve. But they contain no lactose, so they're fine for those with lactose intolerance.

The Special Edition flavors come in both liquid and powder form.Read more about them and other Coffee-mate flavors at their web site,

More goodies as I spot them.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Use Soy Milk in That Pumpkin Pie Recipe

One of the hardest dairy products to find a nondairy substitute for if you're lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies is evaporated milk. And that holiday favorite, pumpkin pie, often calls for evaporated milk.

However, vegan baking expert Chandra Moskowitz told the Washington Post that boiling down soy milk will act as a substitute.

You have to reduce the plain soy milk by two-thirds, because 1 cup of soy milk would yield only 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk substitute.

She also recommends adding a teaspoon of sweetener.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Dairy Allergies Misdiagnosed by Doctors

How many times do I have to write some variation of this article?

Yet another survey of physicians, this time in Europe, found that "British doctors are misdiagnosing milk allergy symptoms in babies and sometimes recommending inappropriate milk substitutes."

An article by Ian Evans on, Allergy Missed by GPs, talks about the:

Act Against Allergy survey of 500 doctors across Europe, including 100 in this country, [which] found that 78 per cent of British doctors think that their colleagues are confusing milk allergy symptoms with other conditions such as gastroenteritis and colic.

Cows milk protein allergy is the most common cause of food allergy in infants and affects up to 3 per cent of babies, the survey said. It affects at least 10,000 babies in Britain, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

The survey also found that six out of ten of the 500 doctors surveyed are using inappropriate treatment for babies with milk allergy.

The same problem is often found in general practitioners in the United States.

If you think your child has a possible food allergy, try to remove the food from the diet to see if that offers any relief. And try to get a referral to a pediatric allergist or gastroenterologist for a more specialized examination.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

IBS Book: A New IBS Solution

Mark Pimentel, MD, FRCPC is Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program and Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Pimentel also serves as Assistant Professor in Residence for the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Those are gaudier credentials than most people who write books about IBS, even though many good doctors have written on the subject.

Dr. Pimental has recently published IBS: A New Solution, as shown on his web site

He's a firm believer in the "bacterial overgrowth" theory behind IBS.

The final, most recent theory defines IBS as a bacterial disease. Patients with IBS inevitably complain of gas and bloating. While this was once considered a major hallmark of IBS, the failure to understand this component led investigators in the 1980’s to emphasize what was more easily grasped; hence the focus on diarrhea and constipation. Still, even as most members of the scientific community were distracted by the emphasis on bowel function, others investigated the bacterial component of IBS. In the 1990’s, research showed that IBS patients (over a given time) produced 5 times more gas than did people without IBS. Since the only source of those gases was bacterial, the initial presumption was that IBS patients had excessive bacteria in the colon, where bacteria were expected to be. Subsequent studies showed that IBS patients had excessive quantities of gas in the small bowel; these data were the catalyst for studying small bowel bacteria in IBS.

Normally the small intestine contains a very small quantity of bacteria. In published studies, indirect measures of small bowel bacteria suggest that 84% of IBS sufferers have excessive quantities of bacteria typically found in the colon.

Intuitively, higher bacterial levels in the small bowel, where absorption takes place, would ferment the nutrients from the food into gas. Further work in this area has determined that these bacteria could produce both constipation and diarrhea, depending on the types of bacteria that have moved into the small bowel. These results have led to studies showing that antibiotics can almost completely relieve IBS symptoms if successful in eliminating the intestinal bacteria. This is called the “bacterial overgrowth theory of IBS.”

He also talks about the connection between IBS and lactose intolerance on the FAQ page on his site:
Why do I feel worse with milk products, yet even when I’m off dairy products entirely, I still have IBS?

There has been some research from Europe suggesting that part of IBS development may be due to lactose intolerance. Among my own patients, if I were to quantitate lactose intolerance symptoms, approximately 80 percent of them either avoid milk and dairy products altogether or recognize that milk and dairy foods are an issue in terms of creating more bloating for them. Yet, even when they eliminate milk and dairy products from their diets, they still have IBS. The only difference is that, when they drink milk, their bloating symptoms become worse. One part of the reason is that most bacteria rely on sugar as their main nourishment. If bacteria could only have one food, sugar would be the one thing they would want.


[E]liminating milk and other dairy products will not, in and of itself, resolve the problem of IBS. In many instances, however, it can help to reduce the symptoms of bloating associated with IBS, because doing so will reduce the amount of sugar the bacteria have to feed on. A better solution, of course, would be to address the bacterial overgrowth directly. See Chapter 6 in the book for dietary suggestions that may help.

The book is available at with a direct link through my Milk-Free Bookstore on the IBS Books page.

Thanks to David Knight for sending me the news about Dr. Pimentel's book and a link to his site.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

The "Sugar" in Ingredients Lists Not Lactose

Here's a recent question emailed to me that been asked often enough to warrant a feature here:

I have had the typical symptoms of L.I. after consuming canned peas that were labeled "peas, salt and sugar". I am wondering if the sugar in these peas is milk sugar. Do the labeling directives require that it be indicated if the disaccharide is lactose? I am a label reader and I often wonder if the list of ingredients has been changed to indicate any recent changes in the contents?

The answer to this is simple. The only ingredient that can be called just plain "sugar" on a food label in the United States is sucrose, ordinary table sugar.

Lactose must be referred to as lactose. Any other sweetener, from glucose to honey to corn syrup to aspartame to any and all of the hundreds of others, must be called by its proper name. Never just "sugar."

Lactose can be hidden in other milk products, of course. Whey is mostly lactose, to take the most important example.

But sugar is always sugar and lactose is always lactose and never the twain shall meet.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Respiratory Symptoms Mean Cow's Milk Allergy Lasts Longer in Children

A study presented at the 52nd annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology made the strongest connection yet found between symptoms and lasting allergies. An article by Jennifer Reid Holman, Respiratory Symptoms Strongly Predict More Persistent Cow's Milk Allergy on Medscape reported on the study led by Alessandro Fiochi, MD, from the University of Milan Medical School in Italy.

Experiencing respiratory symptoms with the allergy, however — such as wheezing or runny nose — strongly predicts the likelihood that the allergy will persist considerably longer into childhood.

Holman wrote that:
The study included 153 children with confirmed immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated cow's milk allergy. Most of these children exhibited skin reactions to milk, such as eczema and hives. About half had asthma/rhinitis symptoms. Fewer than 25% experienced immediate gastrointestinal effects or anaphylaxis after ingesting cow's milk. Many children experienced 2 of these symptoms.
The median age of these children when they presented for allergy testing was 16 months (range, 1-186 months), and each child was followed with periodic challenges for an average of 31 months.

The researchers gathered data on several potential risk factors, including presenting symptoms, duration of exclusive breast-feeding, age when symptoms started, age when cow's milk was introduced to child's diet, level of milk-specific antibodies (IgE) generated, sensitization to dermatophagoides and eggs, the allergen dose that elicited a positive challenge, and the use of formula after the allergy diagnosis.

More than half of the children experienced a natural and complete remission of their cow's milk allergy during the study (median allergy duration, 18 months). Respiratory symptoms were the single strongest predictor of which children had a long-lasting allergy. Median duration of cow's milk allergy in these children was 41 months.

Presenting with anaphylaxis after ingesting milk was also strongly associated with a longer time to remission. Other significant but less strong predictors were reaction to low doses of the allergen during diagnostic testing and higher levels of specific IgE antibodies to the milk challenges.

The news that higher levels of antibodies predicts a persistent allergy reinforces an earlier study announced at the 25th Congress of the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) in Vienna, Austria, a study that made no news in the U.S. but one I reported on back on June 14, Big News! Test May Tell if Your Infant Will Always Be Allergic to Milk.

Holman's article went on to note that pediatricians often do not recognize that asthma symptoms can be due to food allergies. The venerable allergist Sami Bahna recommended that food allergy always be suspected as a cause.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Process May Improve Taste of Lactose-Free Milk

Lactose-free milk comes in just about every variety that regular milk does - fat-free, 1% lowfat, 2% lowfat, whole, calcium-fortified, chocolate. You can use lactose-free milk as a straight one-for-one substitute for regular milk in any recipe. It's real milk, straight from the cow.

But there are two differences that affect the taste.

The first is that the lactose, the milk sugar, is split into two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose. By an oddity of chemistry each of the two simple sugars is sweeter than lactose is. Therefore lactose-free milk is slightly sweeter than regular milk.

The second is that lactose-free milk is made using a type of UHT pasteurization instead of regular pasteurization. UHT - Ultra-High Temperature - pasteurization cooks the milk at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time than regular pasteurization. The advantage is that UHT milk lasts longer before going sour than regular milk. Lactose-free milk doesn't sell in the same phenomenal quantities that regular milk does so it needs a longer shelf period. Some people, unfortunately, detect a slightly "cooked" taste in the lactose-free milk because of this.

Food researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a new food processing technique that provides the same long life without the "cooked" taste, according to the Research Notebook at the Portland Oregonian web site.

Michael C. Qian and his OSU co-workers say that ultrahigh-temperature pasteurization, or UHT, produces milk that stays fresh at room temperature for six months. However, UHT leaves a "cooked" flavor in milk.

The scientists describe how a new food processing technique affects milk taste. Called high hydrostatic pressure processing, it involves putting foods under pressures that crush and kill bacteria while leaving food with a fresh, uncooked taste.

"Milk processed at a pressure of about 85,000 pounds per square inch for five minutes, and lower temperatures than used in commercial pasteurization, causes minimal production of chemical compounds responsible for the cooked flavor," they said. "The processing gives milk a shelf life at refrigerated temperature of at least 45 days."

Their report will be in the Nov. 29 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

When or if this technique makes it to store shelves remains unknown, but it's something to look forward to.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Allergen Safe Treats Enjoyed by All

From Alisa Fleming at

Conscientious friends, teachers, hosts, and family members can now serve, and indulge in, worry free delights alongside the food allergic. Two innovative, family-run companies have just expanded their allergy friendly offerings of delicious desserts and snacks.

After years of fine-tuning treats and snacks for her food allergic son, Jill Robbins launched Gak’s Snacks, a dedicated bakery that is peanut, tree nut, egg, dairy, and trans fat free. Her amazing Apple Coffee Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Brownie Chip Cookies were more than well received, as evidenced by the reviews on Yet Jill couldn’t stop there. Just in time for the holidays, she has released a new Cranberry Coffee Cake. Gak’s coffee cakes are certified whole grain, vegan, kosher pareve, and USDA organic. Healthy connotations aside, these are truly decadent desserts that everyone, allergic or not, will crave.

Where Gak’s Snacks leaves off with desserts, Nonuttin' Foods picks up with nutritious snacks that are safe for the classroom and kid-approved. In 2004, the Elliott family released their line of peanut, tree nut, egg, dairy, seed, and trans fat free Nonuttin' Granola Bars out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Their Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, and Raisin flavors have become so popular that direct orders from U.S. customers are rivaling their loyal Canadian market. With such demand, Nonuttin’ Foods returned to product development. At last, they are releasing not one, but five new products. Vanilla Cinnamon Nibblies (a granola-like snack), Real Fruit Cherry Chips (for baking or snacking), 70% Dark Chocolate Chunks, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, and Sulfite Free Dried Apples have joined the ranks of allergen-free Nonuttin’ goodies. The Elliott family maintains a dedicated facility that is also vegan and certified kosher pareve.

Gak’s Snacks Coffee Cakes can be ordered online at or by phone at (800) 552-7172. These high quality cakes sell for just $28.95 plus cooler. Their large fresh cookies can be purchased for as little as $5.99 per box of 8. Shipment is available throughout the U.S.

Nonuttin’ Foods are available online at or by phone at (866) 714-5411. Their new products range from $5.99 to $10.99 CDN per bag, or you can order a box of 16 granola bars for just $19.99 CDN. Shipment throughout Canada and the U.S. is readily available.

To receive discount coupons for both Gak’s Snacks and Nonuttin’ Foods order a copy of the new book “Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living.” This essential guide is only available through, as quantities are limited.

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans now suffer from true food allergies. This equates to over 4 percent of the population. Food-induced anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) is believed to cause roughly 30,000 emergency room visits per year. For more information, visit the FAAN at

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Monday, November 13, 2006

New Treatments for Food Allergies Being Studied hyped up the the latest research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Philadelphia with a headline of "Allergy And Immunology On The Cusp Of Major Breakthroughs."

When you read the article closely, however, all the big breakthroughs appear to be only for certain types of allergies. The news for those with food, including dairy, allergies isn't quite as good.

Researchers are also looking at novel approaches for treating food allergy, which is a major health problem in industrialized nations. It affects between 6 percent - 8 percent of young children and 4 percent of adults. Current management of food allergy includes the avoidance of specific foods and the medical management of acute reactions.

Only a few foods, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, and fish and shellfish account for over 90 percent of all food allergic reactions. Attempts at primary prevention have largely not met with much success.

"There are several promising studies being conducted now that likely will result in new treatments for food allergy," said Wesley Burks, M.D., professor and chief, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

One of the new therapies are on the horizon is Anti-IgE, which may be able to prevent severe food allergic reactions and can also be used in combination with other new therapies for treatment. Another is the use of modified allergenic proteins that may be able to "reverse" food allergy.

"Routes, other than subcutaneous, for the delivery of allergy immunotherapy for food allergy are being studied extensively now," said Dr. Burks.

Being studied is not at all the same thing as finding a result. If you hear elsewhere about this conference and the good news it supposedly brings, demand to read the fine print.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lactose, Eczema, and Allergies

Would a lactose-free baby formula help a baby with eczema? No. The two things have no connection.

Only a dairy protein allergy would be likely to cause eczema. Or would it?

Dr. Vincent Iannelli's most recent Pediatrics column on, Eczema and Food Allergies, raises some doubts:

If you really think that your baby's formula, including a milk based and soy formula, is making his eczema worse, then you might talk to your pediatrician about trying a hypoallergenic formula, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum. Allergy testing, using a blood test like the Immunocap, could be another option.

Keep in mind that many experts do not believe that food allergies are a big trigger for eczema though, so most parents should not go out of their way to restrict their child's diet without talking to their pediatrician first. Of course, if your child's eczema gets worse every time you give your child something to eat or drink, then it likely is a trigger for him and you should avoid it and talk to your pediatrician about food allergies.

And some kids do have both food allergies and eczema, but surprisingly, they don't seem to affect each other.

Iannelli cites "Effective therapy of childhood atopic dermatitis allays food allergy concerns." by MM Thompson and JM Hanifin in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2005 Aug;53(2 Suppl 2):S214-9.

From the abstract of the study:
BACKGROUND: Roughly one third of children with atopic dermatitis (AD) have IgE-mediated food allergy. Most parents and pediatricians assume foods also cause the eczema, a focus that diverts proper skin therapy and has negative outcomes including nutritional deficiency, costly referrals, and unnecessary testing. This project investigates the relationship between food allergy and AD, both before and after treatment in an established AD population. During an open trial of topical tacrolimus we observed a decrease in parental food allergy concern during good control of their child's eczema. We tested this observation by follow-up interviews and a questionnaire study to compare parental estimates of food allergy concerns after therapy with concerns before beginning the trial. Study subjects were children 11 years old and younger with AD and suspicion of food allergy. AD and food allergy parameters, pre- and post-treatment, were retrospectively assessed by a questionnaire given to the parents.

RESULTS: Twenty-three patients were enrolled: 16 had positive food allergy tests (7 RAST and/or 10 skin prick tests) and 30% had a definite history of immediate IgE reactions to foods. Ninety-five percent of parents felt that food allergy exacerbated their child's AD. Treatment durations were 3 to 45 months. Parental concern of food allergy decreased significantly from 7.7 to 4.0 on a 10 point scale (P < .001). Additionally, estimated food reactions decreased by approximately 80% during 1- and 6-month periods (P = .001).

CONCLUSIONS: In this selected university-based childhood AD population, nearly all parents In this selected university-based childhood AD population, nearly all parents were convinced their child had food allergy and further that the food contributed to the AD. The level of concern about food reactions was significantly decreased and the number of food reactions declined during effective topical therapy. This preliminary assessment of parental perceptions suggests that successful, stable therapy of AD reduces perceived food reactions and allays parental concerns about food allergy. Such therapy may encourage parents to refocus on direct skin care as the primary effort in AD therapy. We conclude that the effect of successful AD treatment on food allergy and food allergy concern are of interest and worthy of further study.

In simpler language, treating eczema makes the symptoms go away without necessarily changing diet.

Finding a good doctor who understands the problem is more than half the battle. Check with your pediatrician and a pedriatric allergist/immunologist if necessary.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Remember, Cheese is Low Lactose

While I'm reminding people out there that nondairy covers a lot of territory, let me also put in a kind word for low-lactose sources of dairy for those who still want milk in their diets.

Like cheese. An article in the New Zealand Herald tells the good folk of Auckland that Jones the Grocer, a famed Australian gourmet food store, is coming to Newmarket.

Kelvin Bartholomeusz, the former fromagier for Jones, is one of us. When asked, "How would you cope if you became lactose intolerant?" he responded:

I am. Cheese contains much lower levels of lactose than milk, and hard cheese has virtually none, as the lactose is held in the water (whey) which, in hard cheese, has wept out of the curds. I eat small amounts of very good cheese. If I couldn't eat cheese or dairy, I'd find life difficult as I base all my travel plans on food shows and where good food is, such as my annual pilgrimage to France.

Should you want to know more about the subtleties of eating cheese, here's more of what he has to say:
When should cheese be eaten?

There's a cheese for every meal, from breakfast to supper. Generally though, subtle-tasting cheese is better before dinner with a nice dry white or good sparkling and the more full-flavoured cheese (cheddar, washed rind, blue) is ideal after dinner with a good red or sticky.

What should be eaten with cheese?

This varies greatly. You need a sharp, dried sour cherry with a blue or a triple cream, a bunch of muscatels is perfect with brie, and quince paste is delightful with cheddar or blue. Only a plain crispbread or baguette should be served with cheese, no flavoured biscuits.

The worst thing to do with cheese?

To eat it cold. It's akin to not letting a good red breathe before drinking it. Generally, cheese must be eaten at room temperature (at least 1-2 hours out of the fridge). The exception is a dry blue such as stilton which should be eaten virtually cold to maintain its dry, crumbly consistency.

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Vegan Ice Cream Blog

No, that's not an oxymoron. The ice creams in question are ice "creams," made using nondairy "milks."

Agnes L. is a vegan and likes creating her own ice cream substitutes. She started posting heavily and then petered out, as many bloggers do, but she got named a "blog of note" on Blogger today so the attention may perk her up.

One thing I like to remind people of every once in a while is that nondairy isn't just for people with lactose intolerance. Vegans need nondairy, and so do people with milk protein allergies, and those trying to keep kosher, and those one in a thousand people with unusual ailments like galactosemia, and more. Each of us can learn from all the others.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's After Halloween So Time for Christmas Nondairy

The stores are already bulging with Christmas decorations and last year's leftover wrapping paper on sale. So it's time to bring out the Christmas-themed food. I guess you can have it at Thanksgiving, too. That leaves you all of December to get tired of it.

Ah, enough cynicism of the season.

Vitasoy put two new flavors into the national marketplace in October, which I just saw in a store for the first time.

Or as their press release put it:

Vitasoy USA Inc. has introduced two organic soy drinks in rich flavors to provide consumers beverage options that taste decadent, yet are guilt free. Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate Soy Drinks are lactose free, gluten free, contain no cholesterol and just a fraction of the fat of dairy eggnog. But that doesn’t mean they are light on flavor. Lightly spiced, Holly Nog is a creamy, smooth drink with aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg. Peppermint Chocolate is excellent served warm or chilled, combining the luscious sweetness of premium chocolate with the cool lingering refreshment of mint.

Yet these non-dairy beverages barely budge the calorie counter – Holly Nog is just 120 calories per 8-ounce serving, and Peppermint Chocolate 140 calories per 8-ounce serving – versus more than 340 calories per 8-ounce serving for dairy eggnog. Made from 100% organic whole soybeans, these beverages are rich in soy isoflavones and contain 4 grams of soy protein per serving.

Vitasoy’s new organic beverages are targeted to health-conscious consumers, as well as to those who are lactose intolerant or vegan – and those who just find the richness of high-fat beverages overwhelming. Vitasoy New Product Manager Jayne Minigell explains: “Holly Nog was distributed on a limited basis in 2005, and received excellent feedback. Consumers liked the lightness and creamy consistency, and gave us high marks on flavor. They appreciated being able to serve a festive and delicious beverage when entertaining lactose-intolerant relatives and friends. To build on that success, we’ve added Peppermint Chocolate – another premium alternative with extended appeal from fall right through winter.”

Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate Organic Soy Drinks were developed to allow retailers to capitalize on the long winter selling season with traditional flavors reformulated for demanding consumers. Healthy ingredients and minimal fat and calories encourage consumers to enjoy these beverages on more than an occasional basis. Aseptic packaging in bright colors makes them easy to merchandise in visible, high-traffic areas to maximize sales and profits.

Vitasoy USA Inc., headquartered in Ayer, Massachusetts, has created delicious, nutritious, organic and all-natural foods to help families improve their health for more than 25 years. Vitasoy USA Inc. produces premium tofu, soymilk and vegan salad dressings that are USDA Certified Organic, as well as all-natural, restaurant-style stir-fry sauces, weight-management meal replacement beverages, and Asian pastas, teas and juices. These healthy and delicious products are sold under the brand names Vitasoy®, Nasoya®, Azumaya®, Vita® and San Sui®. Vitasoy USA Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vitasoy International Holdings Limited of Hong Kong, a world leader in soy products for more than 65 years. Visit for more product information and recipe suggestions.

I've seen nondairy Nog around in limited quantities for years. Maybe this year is the one in which it breaks out in the mainsteam. I'll keep you posted.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Organic Meadow Certified Organic Lactose Free 2% Milk

Is this the first organic lactose free milk in Canada?

I don't know, but the press release claims it is.

You can find the full text of the release here.

For the first time in Canada, 3.5 million Canadians suffering from the symptoms of lactose intolerance will be able to enjoy the wholesome goodness of organic milk. Organic Meadow, Canada's leading, certified organic dairy, is now offering Certified Organic Lactose Free 2% Milk through major grocery chains and specialty food stores across Canada.

For years, health conscious consumers have recognized the benefits of organic milk as part of a well balanced diet. But for many people affected by lactose intolerance, enjoying a cold glass of organic milk with a meal, or simply on its own, was not possible. People with lactose intolerance cannot digest the natural sugar lactose. They suffer a range of symptoms including pain, gas and bloating, because their system can't perform the necessary function of converting lactose to glucose and galactose. The condition affects an estimated 25% of Canadians and can be as minor as discomfort and as major as contributing to chronic illness. Sufferers of lactose intolerance frequently have to eliminate all dairy products from their diets. With the release of Organic Meadow's lactose-free milk, these people can re-introduce organic milk to their lives.


Organic Meadow's lactose free 2% organic milk is sold in 1 and 2 litre cartons and has the same nutritional value as its regular 2% milk. To locate a store near you, visit the Organic Meadow website at

One slight problem, though. Maybe not so slight.

"People often refer to organic dairy products as having the taste they remember from childhood. " said Ted Zettel, President, Organic Meadow. "We think that's because Organic dairy cattle live healthier lives; they are fed only organic feeds, are treated homeopathically on the rare occasion of illness and spend a lot of time outdoors."

Treated homeopathically is the same as not being treated at all. Homeopathy is sheer quackery (or moo-ery). I have to hope that the Canadian government requires health inspections and real veterinarians to treat the cows with real medicines. Fortunately, this is not raw milk but regular milk that has been Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized so it will be safe on the shelf.

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