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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Thursday, June 29, 2006

No- and Low-Lactose Foods and Beverages

A decade ago when I wrote Milk Is Not for Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance I reported that the soy "milk" industry had reached $100 million a year, making it as large as the lactose-reduced milk market.

How puny those numbers look today. The market for lactose-reduced or lactose-free products now is up to $500 million. But the dairy alternative market, which includes soy, rice, and other alternatives, is up to an astounding $1.4 billion. I saw this coming. No, I didn't buy stock. You can if you want to. Sales are expected to rise to $827 million and $2 billion, respectively, by the year 2010, a growth of about 16% a year.

Or so says Don Montuori, the publisher of Packaged Facts. In a press release for his report, No- and Low-Lactose Foods and Beverages, Montuori also says:

"As the number of lactose-free ice creams, cheeses, and cultured dairy products begins to grow, consumers are eagerly returning to dairy for both nutrition and taste. Consumers appreciate the available lactose-free choices and we expect that newer lactose removal technologies will bring on a wealth of new products along with new marketers willing to dive into this high-growth market."

Sounds good for those of us who are lactose intolerant. If you want to know more, here's your opportunity. No- and Low-Lactose Foods and Beverages will only cost you $1995. (That's right. No decimal point.) I'd be happy to read it and digest all the industry jargon, but all the lactase in the world couldn't get me past the price. Of course, if you all want to chip in…

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lactose-Free Cake Wins Best Dessert

Who says that you have to use milk to make a cake taste good?

At the 4th Annual Great American Dessert Expo - now that's a vacation destination - Ardalin Foods won the Best Pastry award:

for their flourless chocolate cake-low sugar, low fat and lactose free that still tastes amazing!

That's from the press release, which also said:
As if America's sweet tooth needed more prodding, an exclusive trade show for the desserts industry added some more great tasting desserts, winners of the first ever "Small Bite, Big Taste" Competition, which was held at the 4th Annual Great American Dessert Expo in Las Vegas June 9-11, 2006. The show, held in conjunction with Coffeefest, is the nation's first trade show dedicated exclusively to the huge dessert industry.

The Competition was sponsored by The French Culinary Institute and

Other winners:
The Best New Product at the show went to Opera Patisserie for their delicious Mini Macaroons -- the texture is light and delicate, with a gentle richness that is surprisingly satisfying. The Best Frozen Dessert went to Howard Gordy for their Pistachio Oro Verde -- 100% pure pistachio which is grown in a very rich soil in Sicily. The winner for Best Chocolate went to Niche Import Co. for their Chocolate Santander -- the only single origin chocolate produced in Columbia well known for its exquisite and delicate flavor. The Best Confection went to Fudge Fatale for their delicious hand made fudge to live and die for! The Best Dessert Wine went to Wine-A-Rita for their Wineglace which is a mix to create a fun and delicious frozen wine beverage. All you need is ice, wine and a blender.

You can be a part of the tasting fun:
Organizers are already planning to double the size of the Great American Dessert Expo next year which will be held June 1-3, 2007 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.

For additional information call 718-854-4450 ext. 104, or visit us at

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Vegan Kosher Restaurant Hits All the Bases

I've written about restaurants that cater to those with wheat allergies because those are so rare as to be worth spreading the word about.

Vegan restaurants aren't as rare. I'm sure you can find one about every ten feet in some college towns.

But a vegan kosher restaurant? That's a find.

And you'll find it at 1010 Cherry Street in Philadelphia, in the heart of Philadelphia's Chinatown. It's called, not very imaginatively, I'm afraid, the Cherry Street Vegetarian Restaurant.

Before you get worried about the "vegetarian" in the name, apparently all the meats are "mock," made from wheat gluten (sorry, celiacs) and soy. That puts the kosher in the picture, since fake shellfish - not allowed by the kosher dietary laws - is on the menu.

Lisa Kelvin Tuttle writes about the Cherry Street Vegetarian Restaurant in the July 2006 issue of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. She said:

"Shrimp" Toast for Two? Moo Shoo "Pork"? Sautéed Mushrooms with "Ham" and Kale? Oh yes, and all of them kosher Vegan to boot. There are also "chicken," "duck," "fish," and "beef" and of course many rice, noodle, and veggie dishes to round out the enormous menu. The chefs are masters with the ancient art of working wheat gluten and soy into copycat versions of poultry, meat, fish, and shellfish so that the kosher diner can experience the best of traditional Chinese dishes while observing Jewish dietary laws.

Recipes for Fast, Easy Cold Sesame Noodles and Homemade Fortune Cookies are also included.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

When Is Butter not Butter?




1. A soft yellowish or whitish emulsion of butterfat, water, air, and sometimes salt, churned from milk or cream and processed for use in cooking and as a food.

2. Any of various substances similar to butter, especially:

    a) A spread made from fruit, nuts, or other foods: apple butter.

    b) A vegetable fat having a nearly solid consistency at ordinary temperatures.

It's that second definition that can cause the confusion. Apple butter, peanut butter, cocoa butter, and lots of other soft spreadables made from non-dairy sources are called butters. None of them should have any lactose or any other dairy product.

Same with all products sold as "cremes" rather than "creams."

Unfortunately, every once in a while dairy products are added to the completely dairy-free original. Coconut "milk" (sometimes called cream of coconut) is non-dairy. But there are coconut milk products in the U.S. that have real dairy milk added to them for better flavor and consistency.

It's a plot to drive us crazy. When in doubt, repeat after me, always read the ingredients list.

More of these Supermarket Foolers on my web site.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

No Health Risks Found for Soy Infant Formulas

I don't know exactly when soy became controversial. Seems that I just looked up one day and articles were all over the net screaming that soy caused as many problems as, well, dairy.

This is a huge concern for those parents who put their infants on soy formulas. To get it out of the way: of course breastfeeding is the best thing for infants. But not everybody can do so all the time, for various reasons. Babies may become temporarily lactose intolerant because of illnesses striking their intestines. And dairy proteins can leak through into the breastmilk and create symptoms in babies with allergies. Soy formulas are routinely suggested as the best alternatives.

Parents want to know: are soy formulas safe? The answer appears to be: yes.

On, Julia R. Barrett wrote a survey article on " The Science of Soy: What Do We Really Know?" Although she notes that experts urge caution because soy can also be an allergen, she quotes Susan Baker, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children's Hospital of Buffalo and former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, as saying "It's always true that there could be something subtle that we didn't look for or didn't know to look for, but so far we haven't seen any major health problems." And Marisa Salcines, director of communications for the Atlanta-based International Formula Council, which represents infant formula manufacturers, says " "There haven't been any studies that have shown any negative effects in adults who consumed soy-based infant formulas as babies."

The real issue is that good long-term studies comparing soy-based formula, cow's milk-based formula, and breast milk have not yet been concluded. There are several going on now, however.

In the meantime, the evidence that soy is a major problem for any substantial number of people is lacking. And that's good news for those of us who try to avoid dairy.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lactose in Medications

Lactose is a sugar, but it's only slightly sweet. It's the least sweet common sugar of all, as a matter of fact, less than half as sweet as ordinary sucrose, or table sugar.

This is an advantage sometimes. Manufacturers like the idea of adding just a bit of sweetness to some products, without overwhelming the taste. Lactose browns like other sugars when heated - this is called caramelizing - and leaves that pretty toasty color. So breadmakers will sprinkle lactose on top of a bread to make it look better without making the bread overly sweet. And lactose is made from whey, which is considered a waste product in the manufacture of cheese, so lactose is comparatively cheap.

One other thing that lactose can do is form a crispy shell around a pill. This makes it easier to swallow pills and alleviates their bitter taste. Lactose therefore can be used either inside as a filler to bulk out a pill or outside or both. No wonder so many pharmaceutical firms use lactose in their products.

Now the amount of lactose in any one pill is probably extremely small, on the order of 25 mg. There are 12,000 mg of lactose in an 8 oz. glass of milk. Normally, I'd say that no one who is lactose intolerant should ever worry about the lactose in medicine.

Of course, that's not much help for those who react to even the tiniest amount of lactose, or those who have severe dairy protein allergies instead of lactose intolerance, or for vegans, or Orthodox Jews, or the other who have to worry about milk or animal by-products.

You'd think that there would be a list of which medicines have lactose and which don't. But there isn't.

Unfortunately, there are good reasons for that.

When I wrote Milk Is Not for Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance I thought I'd create just such a list for prescription medications. I contacted someone at the firm that publishes the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR), one of the standard compilations of drug information that virtually every doctor and pharmacist uses. He searched the CD that the PDR came on (1994-style high tech!) and gave me a list of every medication whose entry contained the word lactose.

Simple, right?

Simple, no.

Virtually every drug comes in more than one strength, and often in more than one format. Believe it or not, for many of the pills, one dosage would contain lactose as a filler but the next size up wouldn't. Sometimes a controlled release pill would contain lactose but not the regular pills, or vice versa. Sometimes liquid versions would have the lactose - or not.

I had to go through every single one of the several hundred listings given me and check which varieties had lactose and which didn't. It took forever. And I realized that I would have to do the same thing every single year when a new PDR was released. And there was no way to get this information for generic versions.

Now multiply that by ten and you have the problem of over-the-counter medicines. There are thousands and some of them have dozens of variations. (Check how many versions of Tylenol there are, for example.) There isn't any one central registry that I know of that lists them either, so they can't be searched for. And they change formulas, names, strengths, and varieties frequently.

Nobody has ever even tried to compile a complete list of lactose in any type of pills since my one attempt. While I hope that the future might bring about a simple way to find this info, I'm not optimistic.

The only advice I can give you is the same advice I always give for all products: check the ingredients list. Doctors and pharmacists should have access to information about the inactive ingredients in prescription medication. Virtually all manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) medications print the ingredients on the package. If you can't find it, try asking a pharmacist. Or call the consumer information number given. Or check the firm's website.

I wish there was an easier way. Not today, though, not yet.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

FAAN: Walk for Food Allergy

Milk and dairy allergies are among the commonest food allergies in the world. They're problem with the immune system running amok. Nobody really understand why they happen, or why they seem to be getting worse.

So FAAN - The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network – is holding its third annual Walk for Food Allergy, to be held in cities across the country this fall.

Their press release says:

Beginning August 19 and ending on November 18, thousands of families nationwide will be taking part in the third annual nationwide Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure campaign intended to increase awareness and raise research funding for a disease that currently has no cure. The disease is food allergy, which currently affects 12 million Americans. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), the nation's leading nonprofit, patient advocacy organization, dedicated to increasing education and advancing research on food allergy and anaphylaxis, will be spearheading these events in 18 cities across the nation.

The Walk for Food Allergy will be occurring in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Registration is now open for walk enthusiasts from every walk of life to benefit FAAN's ongoing research and education efforts. For registration and a complete list of all of the walk locations and dates, please visit FAAN's Web site at

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Lactates not Lactose

I recently received an email asking if there was milk in potassium lactate.

The answer is no. In fact, there is no lactose in any of the "lac" additives found in ingredients lists.

I know this surprises some people, because there are lists of what not to eat - compiled by the lazy or ignorant - that include these items.

There are three main groups of "lac"s. Lactates, lactylates, and lactic acid.

The lactates appear in combination with calcium, sodium, potassium or, rarely, other elements. Calcium lactate is common.

The lactylates are more complicated, with forms like calcium stearoyl-2 lactylate or sodium isostearoyl lactylate.

As far as I can tell neither type will ever contain lactose. If you have lactose intolerance you don't need to worry about them.

Same is true if you have a dairy protein allergy. These ingredients have no protein in them. FAAN (The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network) says:

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

Lactic acid is a bit more complicated, for some. It does not contain lactose and presents no problem for the lactose intolerant.

But it can be derived from dairy. However, lactic acid derived from dairy (from whey, to be precise) seems to only be used in foods like ice cream or cheese, which are dairy products themselves.

Other foods use lactic acid that is not derived from whey.

So people with milk allergies need only to use some common sense. If the food is a dairy product, and you're trying to avoid dairy products, it doesn't matter if it also contains lactic acid.

If there is otherwise no dairy in the product, then don't worry about the lactic acid. Again FAAN says that lactic acid:
not contain milk protein and need not be restricted by someone avoiding milk.

All this and much much is contained in Dairy or Nondairy? The Experts Speak on my web site.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar

O, Canada!

Some things just have to be presented without comment.

Funding draws Tory ire by Bruce Cheadle, Canadian Press.

The federal Conservative government says it won't lay a hand on the Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar.

A Toronto performance artist is offering the public an opportunity to sample human breast milk, in the spirit of wine tasting, and the lesbian single mother is using a $9,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to help get the creative juices flowing.

Jason Kenney, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reacted with bemusement rather than anger to the breast milk sampler, which is scheduled for July 13 at the Ontario College of Art & Design Professional Gallery.

"Personally I think we should be funding cultural endeavours that actually draw an audience, that people are actually interested in,'' said Kenney. "I'm not sure that's the case here.''

The breast milk, provided by six different women according to artist Jess Dobkin, will be pasteurized for health and safety reasons. But that consideration didn't seem top of mind for federal Health Minister Tony Clement.

"A chacun son gout,'' -- to each his own tastes, said Clement, before quickly adding, "It's not for me.''

Dobkin herself said to the Toronto Star:
"This project re-contextualizes something often regarded as indecent or repellent, offering a celebratory view.

"A substance that nourishes us in our infancy later becomes a curiosity in adulthood. Though many drink it exclusively for the first months of life, the memory of that taste and the sensation of drawing milk from the breast are forgotten. No two women's milk tastes the same, and is influenced by things we ingest and our unique biology."

Technically, breast milk isn't drinkable by those with lactose intolerance, and may not be so by those with cow's milk dairy protein allergy, since the proteins can leak through into the breast milk. So, technically, this doesn't belong in this blog. Sue me.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Everyone who has lactose intolerance should know by now that one of the major sources of symptoms can be the bacteria that live in your colon. More than 500 known species of bacteria have been found living in people, and like any group of 500 you find a range from the very good to the very bad.

For us, the bad bacteria are the ones that ferment any lactose that reaches them. The fermentation process releases gas, just like it does when beer is made. And you probably know all too well what the gas can do.

You can change the "bad" bacteria into "good" bacteria, the type that digests lactose rather than ferments it by using probiotics. Probiotics, literally "for life" contain the good bacteria and the idea is that the good bacteria will dominate the bad ones. I've written many times before about probiotics. The live and active cultures in yogurt are probiotics. You can also buy the bacteria in pill form in such products as Digestive Advantage and Lactagen.

What are prebiotics? Wesley Canfield of the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center talks about them in his column.

Prebiotics ("before life") are nondigestible or fiber components of foods, usually complex carbohydrates that beneficially affect the host by stimulating the growth of intestinal bacteria. Certain bacteria prefer a particular prebiotic to use as a source of energy.

There are some potentially major advantages to eating more prebiotics, he says.

In addition to making vitamins, intestinal bacteria also produce other nutrients of benefit. We've all heard advice about limiting our intake of fats, especially saturated ones. However, not all saturated fats are bad for us. Many of the gut bacteria ferment digestion-resistant fiber to short-chain saturated fatty acids. These fats have two to four carbon atoms.

Acetate, propionate and butyrate all are examples of SCFA. Some scientists estimate that up to 10 percent of a person's daily energy needs can be met by using the SCFA as fuel. Butyrate, in particular, has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in animals. In addition, a probiotic containing butyrate-producing bacteria also reduced cancer formation in an animal model.

Another way of increasing butyrate production by intestinal bacteria is to eat prebiotics similar to the high-galactose type found in breast milk. Inulin, for example, is a type of high-fructose, nondigestible fiber that is present in wheat and onions. Many studies in both humans and animals have demonstrated the bifidobacteria-promoting benefits of inulin and other high-fructose prebiotics.

Prebiotics and probiotics. All part of a good healthy diet. Eat enough of them and hopefully you won't have to take any antibiotics.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yogurt Changed the Way We Eat

Harry Balzer knows more about the way you eat than anyone in America. His title is nothing special, vice president at the NPD Group. His job is. He studies Americans and food. Every day.

And you're weird.

Every day, someone from the NPD Group is calling 3500 Americans, asking them whether they're gone to a restaurant, and if so, what they ate. The number one food ordered by women? French fries. Burgers are number two, pizza, number three. Salad comes in seventh. Men eat burgers, French fries, pizza in that order.

And NPD hands out notebooks to 3000 families at a time so that the can record everything they eat and drink for 14 days.

Then NPD combines the info and sells it for big bucks in their unique study, Eating Patterns in America, now in its 20th year.

Other findings, according to an article by Robin Mather Jenkins in the Chicago Tribune:

The No. 1 item the average American is most likely to have between meals is . . . .gum!

The fastest growing appliance used by Americans to prepare a meal is . . . the power window. Last year, for 22 percent of all meals purchased at a restaurant, we did not even get out of our cars, a new high! (Would this trend have happened if we still had to hand-crank the windows in our cars?)

The No. 1 snack by children (under 6 years old) is . . ....fruit! Don't be surprised. Parents still control the intake of toddlers and babies. Once they have their 6th birthday, however, look out!

In 1985, 56 percent of all in-home meals included at least one fresh, prepared-from-scratch dish. Last year, that dropped to 46 percent, an all-time low.

It is true that nearly 50 percent of our food budget is spent on meals purchased outside the home, but 77 percent of all meals we eat still come from the home. Restaurant meals are three times the cost of making an in-home meal.

On a typical night, 55 percent of all dinners are prepared by women, and that's unchanged since 1998.

And yogurt? Well, in Belzer's 28 years in the business, he's only named a "food of the day" that's changed America's eating patterns twice. The first was pizza, and now the second is yogurt.

Belzer told Janet Zimmerman of the Press Enterprise that:
"Pizza was what yogurt is today." It is a product that appeals to the fast-growing older and younger generations, a food "they can eat alone, for a main dish, dessert, breakfast, lunch, it doesn't require cleaning up, it's a meal unto itself and it has the perception of being healthy."

(Yes, Belzer gets around. He's a man with an extremely expensive study to promote. He's spends three months a year getting the data together and nine months trying to sell it to clients. He's been quoted in every major paper in the country in June alone.)

And why is yogurt suddenly magic?

Last year, 20.5 percent of all consumers ate yogurt at least once every two weeks, nearly double from 9.6 percent 20 years ago, NPD research shows. The $3 billion-a-year industry has outgrown every other grocery product of the last three decades, and consumption has doubled about every seven years.

Much of the growth can be attributed to yogurt's rise from diet food to favorite snack, now in a dizzying array of colors, textures and packaging, from squeezable tubes to drinkable containers.

The latest craze is probiotics, the "good" bacteria that work to turn milk into yogurt.

The bacterium cultures are now known to have health benefits, including aiding digestion, boosting immunity, treating diarrhea, decreasing yeast infections and possibly, lowering cholesterol. More preliminary studies show that the ancient food may also reduce the incidence of colon tumors and ease allergic reactions.

What's not known is how much and which types of bacteria work.

Not knowing how or why something works might stop me, and those of you who read me and look for some actual science behind a claim. The rest of the American public… Well, look at what's available in the pill aisle at any supermarket or natural food store and you know that we must not care at all about what we put into our mouths. Yogurt and its beneficial bacteria have to be a thousand times healthier than some of the concoctions that come in pill form.

"When you eat the yogurt, you help to help reestablish the good bacteria in your intestinal tract," said Redlands dietician Elaine McFadden, director of nutrition education for Nature's Path foods.

Most commercial yogurt does not contain probiotics because it is pasteurized, a process that kills bacteria, [Chris Krese, spokesman for the National Yogurt Association] said. The National Yogurt Association is pushing the Food and Drug Administration to establish minimum levels of live and active cultures for a product to be called yogurt.
McFadden favors Mountain High yogurt, with its label boasting "billions of live and active cultures." Stonyfield Organic Yogurts are also high in beneficial bacteria.

And there are a host of new products pushing probiotics. Among them: Breyers Light! Probiotics Plus Yogurt, which promises "complete nutrition in a cup"; Activia yogurt, which manufacturer Dannon says regulates the digestive system when eaten daily for two weeks; and DanActive, also from Dannon, a cultured dairy drink.

Health-conscious consumers should read labels, McFadden said.

In addition to containing live and active cultures, the most good-for-you yogurts have less than 20 percent of calories from sugar and less than 30 percent of calories from fat.

I won't argue with that. It's good advice. And the vast majority of people with lactose intolerance can tolerate yogurt with live and active cultures with few if any symptoms.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Big News! Test May Tell if Your Infant Will Always Be Allergic to Milk

When I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance way back in 1978 I had literally never heard the words before. Today, just about everybody knows what LI is. That's great, except sometimes when it's a problem.

It's a problem because too many people now think that any problem with dairy products stems from LI. That's just not the case, and it's especially not the case for infants.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to manufacture the lactase enzyme. This ability does not even start to go away until about the age of weaning. You'll find very few healthy children under the age of three LI anywhere in the world.

Admittedly, any illness, surgery, medications, or injury that affect the small intestine can knock out the lactase-making ability. The most common cause of this is the old-fashioned "stomach flu," in reality a gastrointestinal illness. But this Temporary Lactose Intolerance (or Secondary LI) is, as the name indicates, normally temporary. It will go away in a few weeks as the intestines heal. (Truly serious damage from other causes may not heal, but this is extremely rare in comparison.)

How to explain the problems suffered by otherwise healthy children, who never seem to be able to tolerate dairy products? The most likely answer is a milk protein allergy. An allergy is an immune system reaction to the proteins in milk, a totally different process than the inability to digest the milk sugar, lactose.

The good news is that even a milk protein allergy is temporary, even though it seems to go on forever. I always reassure parents that the majority of infants will simply grow out of the allergy, usually by the normal time of weaning.

Of course, the parents always want to know how they can tell if their child will be one of them. I didn't have an answer. Until now.

On June 11, Timo Vanto, MD, of Turku University Hospital in Turku, Finland, gave a formal presentation titled "Persistent Cow's Milk Hypersensitivity: IgE Antibodies to Milk Have a Peak Earlier Than Skin Prick Test Wheals. Poster 579" at the 25th Congress of the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) in Vienna, Austria. You can found a report on the study at Doctor's Guide.

He did a double-blind study (the best kind) of 156 children who had been diagnosed with milk allergy at an average age of seven months. He then retested them at the ages of 1, 2, and 4 with the standard skin-prick test and measured the size of the wheals (swellings) that developed.

In the children who lost their allergies, the wheals were an average 2 mm in size in the diagnostic test, peaked in size at one year, and then dropped to 0.5 mm at 4 years. A full 77% of the children fit this pattern, meaning that three-fourths of them lost their allergies by age four.

The rest has a totally different pattern. Their diagnostic wheals were much larger, at 5.3 mm. They kept rising until the age of two, when they reached 8 mm. And they remained that average size even at age four. This clearly indicated that the allergy would persist.

Blood tests also showed two completely different patterns for antibody levels. The first group's S-f2 levels were 0.5 kU/L throughout the study. Those with a persistent allergy "started at a mean of 6 kU/L at diagnosis and peaked at 10.5 kU/L by 1 year. By 2 years they had dropped to 8 kU/L, and by age 4, they were at 4 kU/L."

So there are two independent ways of determining whether your child will grow out of a milk allergy. And they work best at different times, with the antibody serum levels predicting best up to the age of two and the skin-prick tests after that age. This should lead to much better diagnoses.

I have to warn everybody that one test is not necessary meaningful. Tests have to be replicated by independent researchers to ensure that chance or error didn't bias the results.

But this is great news. A readily available, easily performed test that predicts allergy persistence with high accuracy. This is the big one. Talk to your pediatricians or allergists about this. It may take some time before the results are accepted and the procedures are widely understood, but at least make sure that your doctors are looking into it.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Manischewitz Makes Nondairy Cake Mixes

Last fall Duncan Hines announced that it was adding dairy products to its line of previously pareve cake mixes. Pareve is a term in the Jewish dietary laws for "neutral" foods, those with no meat or milk ingredients. Pareve foods are perfect for people with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies as well as those who are vegans, so this was a major loss.

Let the consternation cease. Manischewitz, the big-name Kosher food products firm, has stepped in with the first two flavors of a new line of pareve cake mixes. They're starting with the basics – Vanilla and Chocolate – but promise to add more flavors as time goes on. The web site even offers a Pareve Fudge Frosting recipe, made with soy milk.

And Manischewitz gets points for mentioning lactose intolerance as a reason for offering the cake mixes. Yes! Let's remind them that we're a major market. Support companies that recognize LI.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Nondairy Frozen Desserts with No Bad Fat

Yesterday I wrote about Sorbets for Summer. Whipped and blended frozen fruit is about as dairy-free as you can get, but it's not the only category of nondairy frozen treat.

The report I mentioned from Nutrition Action Healthletter, June 2006, also featured a number of soy- and rice-based desserts that are both nondairy and, I believe, vegan, so they should be acceptable both for people with lactose intolerance and those with dairy allergies. Here's how they rate them: Best Bites have no more than 1 gram of "bad fat" (saturated fat plus trans fats) in a half-cup serving, no more than 170 calories, no acesulfane potassium, and also have fruit, fruit puree, or fruit juice (other than grape, apple, or pear) as the first or second ingredients. Honorable mention products are the same but may have up to 2 grams of "bad fat." They all tend to be higher in total fat than sorbets are, however, with 2-9 grams of fat per serving.

One company with many names, Turtle Mountain had several Best Bites, including Its Soy Delicious, So Delicious Organic, and Soy Delicious Purely Decadent, Purely Vanilla flavor.

Imagine Foods' Rice Dream and Soy Dream didn't have all their many flavors listed, but only Rice Dream Vanilla Swiss Almond got downgraded for too much "bad fat."

Celestial Seasonings, a sister company of Imagine Foods under the Hain Celestial conglomerate, adds tea flavoring to Rice Dream for an unusual and equally trans-fat free frozen dessert.

Several of Tofutti's lines scored high, with Super Soy Supreme, Low Fat, and No Sugar Added leading the list. Premium and Cheesecake Supreme had a bit too much "bad fat."

All of these will taste more like conventional ice cream than sorbet does, so they may bridge the gap when the cravings hit.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sorbets for Summer

Summer is here for most of us. Well, not up here in Rochester. Friday I wandered through the tents at the Rochester International Jazz Festival in a cold, rain-misted wind with temperatures in the 40s. The ice cream truck closed down early as everybody searched for a vendor, any vendor, who sold hot drinks. Hot jazz warms the spirit but my umbrella turned inside-out and threatened to become a satellite.

But I hear that other parts of the nation have their air conditioning up and running. It'll happen up here as well. Summer is scheduled for a Thursday this year. Try not to miss it.

What to do when it's 95° and you're dripping and want something cold and smooth to wash the dryness out of your throat? Skip over that ice cream. If you're lactose intolerant or milk allergic there are better treats, and they're becoming a lot easier to find.

The two main types of non-dairy confections are sorbets and granites. Here's a handy definition from The Tennessean:

Sorbet: Fresh, ripe fruit puree or fruit juice and sugar then churned to incorporate air to make it smooth. It has no eggs or dairy products to camouflage the taste of fruits at their peak of ripeness. They can be made with liquors, wine and herbs, too. The less sweet ones are sometimes offered as a palate cleanser between courses at a fancy dinner.

Granite: Frozen mixture of fruit juice or other liquid such as coffee or wine and sugar, then frozen in a shallow tray. The proportion is usually four parts liquid to one part sugar. It's stirred frequently with a fork to break up the crystals and has an icy, coarse texture. Called granite in France and granita in Italy.

That's pronounced gra-NEE-ta, BTW, not like the rock.

The June issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, also was thinking summer and ran an article on frozen scoops. Saturated fat is their biggest bugaboo, followed by sugar content, so it's not surprising that sorbets grabbed a bunch of "Best Bites" and honorable mentions. Best Bites have no more than 1 gram of "bad fat" (saturated fat plus trans fats) in a half-cup serving, no more than 170 calories, no acesulfane potassium, and also have fruit, fruit puree, or fruit juice (other than grape, apple, or pear) as the first or second ingredients. Honorable mention products are the same but may have up to 2 grams of "bad fat." Tough grading.

They liked Edy's Whole Fruit brand No Sugar Added sorbets, sweetened with Splenda, but also gave a Best Bite to their regularly sweetened sorbets, except for Coconut and Boysenberry. It's hard to take the fat out of coconut, so all the coconut sorbets have black marks against them.

Haagen-Dazs has at least half a dozen sorbets with all them being Best Bites, except for chocolate, tropical, and zesty lemon, which are honorable mention.

Ben and Jerry have a tasty line of sorbets that should be widely available in most supermarkets. Their current flavors are Strawberry Kiwi Swirl, Berried Treasure, and Jamaican Me Crazy, with its swirls of pineapple and passionfruit. They all get honorable mentions.

Ciao Bella has a huge line of sorbettos, many of which are certified kosher. All are Best Bites except for chocolate, which rates as honorable mention, and the dread coconut.

Lots of other brands of sorbets, granites, and ices (sometimes called Italian ices) are on the market, of course. You should find other brands that weren't part of the ratings in local stores and natural foods markets everywhere. Keep the Best Bites qualities in mind when you buy. Fruit, not sugar, should be high on the list. You want the real fruit flavor to shine through.

I'm finding that many better restaurants now offer home-made sorbets in unusual and intense flavors for those of us who literally wouldn't live through a Death by Chocolate mound of fat. The best of these burst into fruity sense-bombs with the smallest spoonful.

You can also make your own sorbets. Check out the Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts Cookbooks page in the Product Clearinghouse on my website for a list of cookbooks that cover sorbets, granites, and ices.

When you experiment with the recipes, keep in mind that you can add other flavors than just fruit. Sorbet on the side by Kristi L. Gustafson in the Albany Times Union, tells us that herbs are the latest hot ingredient in cool summer dishes.

Lavender, rosemary, tarragon, basil and lemon verbena are just a few oft-found sorbet additives.

"Lemon verbena is amazing. It has a scent and flavor that's like an acidless lemon," says Michel Nischan, known as the Healthy Chef. "It causes the flavor to fill your entire mouth."

Mint goes better with fruit sorbets than just about any other herb, say chefs. It's expected, because mint often accompanies fruit -- or at least dessert. But these sorbets aren't always after-meal treats.

Instead they're used as intermezzos or even side dishes.

"Rosemary is sharp enough (that) it's more interesting as a meat accompaniment or a palate-cleanser," according to Lou Pappas, author of "Sorbets and Ice Creams: and Other Frozen Confections." She suggests a lemon-rosemary sorbet with lamb. Diners treat it as a side dish, as they would a potato or vegetable.

A fruit base is typical (even tomatoes work). Add a sugar-based syrup, stick it in an ice cream maker, and you'll have a perfect-consistency sorbet. Different herbs can be incorporated differently, says [Paul Krebs, professor of culinary arts at Schenectady County Community College].

"Herbs can be chopped finely and mixed in, but if you don't want to have the chopped herb in your sorbet, you can also strain it," says Krebs. You can also chop the herbs, steep them in the sugar-and-water mixture and strain it out.

Check the article online for recipes on unusual flavors Spring Rhubarb-Tarragon Sorbet, Pineapple-Sage Sorbet, and Citrus-Basil Sorbet.

No dill, though. Dill doesn't work. Nor does combining lavender, maple and chocolate. Remember, just because you can think it up doesn't mean you can choke it down.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Future of Soy Milk

Soy "milk" probably tops the list of all alternative dairy milk beverages. Sales are large and growing, growing much faster than dairy milks sales are, although of course starting from a much smaller base.

And the future will see tastier, healthier, and more varied forms of soy milks, according to an article on the site, Taking Soy Protein beyond Milk , by Henk Hoogenkamp & Paul Evers of Netherlands' Alko Research.

The article is a bit technical in spots, but you can easily skip the protein globulin discussion and not worry about what organoleptical means as you skim by to get to the good parts.

A few excerpts:

Major flavour innovation is on its way when by 2007 improved organoleptical quality soy protein isolate will become available. Using plant-breeding technology, a specific Monsanto patented soybean variety will then provide high levels of beta-conglycinin, a naturally occurring texture and flavour improving compound. Beta-conglycinin is a highly soluble protein, especially suitable for beverage applications. Beta-conglycinin does not bind flavours so at higher levels it does not hold in the typical soybean taste, creating a more neutral taste profile, which subsequently will be carried over in the end product.


As an eye-opener: soy and its specific health claims remain a highly controversial topic.

According the Associated Press (January 24, 2006) the American Heart Association panel of expertise has derided soy claims that soy protein can significantly lower cholesterol.

Soy industry sponsored research studies indicate that the soybean is more than a high-yielding source of premium protein. Soybeans also contain relatively high amounts of phytochemicals, such as genistein, daidzein and glycitein.

Epidemiological studies have suggested an association with lowered risks for prostate, breast and colon cancers, reduction of cholesterol, improved bone health, a delay in the onset of osteoporosis, reduced blood pressure, protection against heart disease, and an easing of menstrual and menopausal symptoms. Soy protein is also a significant source of essential fatty acids, minerals, and calories. Given below is the important nutritional information for soy milk produced with a low-flavour profile type of soy protein isolate.


Basically, functional drinks are defined as a concept that provides a health benefit beyond the basic nutritional content by virtue of their physiologically active added components. Yakult Japan is not only the pioneer of the probiotic functional drinks but also still the world leader of the distinctive ‘one-shot size’ drink format. It has taken a while, but in recent years a wave of me-too products has been introduced by giants like Yoplait, Danone and Nestle.


Soy protein is also considered a ‘satiety-protein’. And as such, DSM’s new ‘Fabuless’-satiety ingredient could be an ideal fit to co-introduce in a personal weight management drink. Looking into the crystal ball, DSM also has near market introduction a milk beverage, yet without all the classical attributes such as taste or appearance of milk.

Further down the horizon soy based nutraceutical beverages appear which are based on nutrigenomics, and these technologies will set the stage for personalised nutrition beyond 2012. After all, there is increasing evidence of links between small DNA changes and the development of chronic disease, which ultimately will prove that there is a direct relation between genetic changes, lifestyle and food. Following this pathway, it even can be hypothesised that some food companies of today even might transform towards food diagnostics as their main creation of shareholder value.

The whole article is much longer than this, but I recomend going through as much of it as you can. While distinctly on the pro-soy side, it's the best summary of the current state of the international industry that I've seen.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Answers! Really, Answers to Your Questions!

Hi, everyone. Back from a break, and time to catch up on some of the questions that have come in.


In the Lactose Free Yogurt and Cottage Cheese post, Joel asks:

Thanks for keeping us LI individuals up to date with your helpful information. I heard only last week that approximately 40% of Eastern European background americans, 60% of Afican-Americans and 100% of Asian-Americans are LI. With numbers like this, they are either false, or I would say that LI is a large enough market now for food compnaies to focus more on LI products. Do you agree with these numbers?

Those numbers are completely accurate, but misleading without some context to them.

What does it mean to say that 60% of African-Americans are LI? Simply that if you were to look at the DNA of every African-American, about 60% of them would retain the original gene that told the body to stop making the lactase enzyme after the age of weaning, and that about 40% have the mutated gene that never sends out this signal. This is one technical definition of lactose intolerance.

It's not the common one, though. Most people say that they have lactose intolerance if they get symptoms after eating or drinking dairy products. How is that different? Well, if you never have dairy products you won't get symptoms. If you have small amounts of dairy products, you likely won't have symptoms. If you stick to dairy products with low amounts of lactose, you won't get symptoms. If your colon is full of acidophilus or other "good" bacteria that digest lactose, you won't get symptoms.

That makes the actual market for reduced-lactose dairy products or non-dairy milk substitutes much smaller than the gross figures would indicate. Real dairy products also tend to taste better, or at least more familiar, to those who've grown up with them, another disincentive toward buying substitutes.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any such products. I list hundreds of them in my Product Clearinghouse. But they'll never be a big mainstream product category.


Earlier I had put up a post First Gluten and Lactose Free Store Opens about Splitt in Calgary, Canada and Gluten Free Store Opens about a Detroit venture supposed to be the "first" such store. Whenever you read a newspaper article that says something is the "first" take it with a big grain of salt.

Paul told me about the The Old Shepody Mill Restaurant on the South Shore of New Brunswick. And somebody who logged in anonymously mentioned a gluten-free store in Winnipeg named Lorenzos. Good for Canada.

I post references to lots of articles I spot on the Web. Sometimes I can tell immediately that they're wrong. Sometimes I have to wait until my readers give me the facts. You know the saying "Everybody knows more than anybody." That's true here as well.


People love their Vitamite. But Vitamite Might not be Around Any Longer. Except that it is, sorta.

Another anonymous comment said:

Vitamite is still available, but not in a convenient size. Diehl International will sell it in a 50 lb. package. It cost $180* and ships UPS. Diehl says it will make 60 gallons. It's the perfect size for your fallout shelter. My came a couple of days ago. Here's a link for the direct consumer order form.

*Anonymous corrected this on June 17 to only $130.

That'll take care of a year of Vitamite hunger. And in the meantime you can build up your muscles by hoisting the package every day.


Here's a good suggestion that wound up as a comment in Schools Should Provide Nondairy Drinks, not the most obvious place to look for it.

I substitute cream soups in casseroles, etc with a can of chicken rice or chicken noodle soup blended in a blender until smooth. I usually add a small amount of soy sour cream, to add a bit of creaminess, but that isn't absolutely necessary. I think the blended starch (the rice or noodles) substitutes for the thickener found in cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup and the chicken broth adds a nice flavor. I do this with canned soup that hasn't been reconstituted.

Thanks, anonymous. Subbing for cream soups is always difficult. Anyone who tries this please let me know how it turns out for you.


On that same page Paula asks:

I wonder had anyone connected lactose intolerance to autoimmune disease.

No, absolutely no connection that I can think of.


OK, we're back up and running. Lots more entries to be posted over the next few days. If you have any other questions or comments, I promise I'll get back to you sooner.

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