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

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

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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

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

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Monday, December 31, 2007

New Dairy-Free Treats Stem from Scottish Science

NANDI Proteins is a food technology company that was created by the boffins at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Nandi was the mother of Shaka, the Zulu King, famed as a warrior and for his famous victories, and immortalised in the film Zulu. Today Nandi translates as ‘something pleasant’.

They're doing remarkable things with protein modification. According to
Nandi Proteins Ltd. specialises in natural modification of food proteins such as egg white, whey and soya protein. The products have improved functionality such as water binding and emulsifying properties in emulsions such as dairy cream and mayonnaise. This means that Nandi- products can be manufactured at low cost and can be utilised not only as fat replacements by the food industry, but also for the manufacture of innovative new products for the dairy-free and gluten-free markets. Key products:

1. Egg white powder with improved sensory and functional properties.

2. Whey protein powder with which is acid stable and has improved water binding.

3. Soy cheese fermented by lactic acid bacteria, with good sensory properties. Expertise in protein structure and functionality.

And in the major newspaper, The Scotsman, Jane Bradley reports that:
NANDI Proteins, a spin-out from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, has launched a new round of funding and is in discussions with a number of global food producers just months after clinching its first major deal with a Dutch dairy company.

Nandi earlier this year signed up with Friesland Foods to supply the Dutch firm with its protein technology in a deal which could be worth more than 2 million to the company in royalties.

The technology is used to add supplements to foods such as dairy free or low-fat products.

Neat stuff. The more firms that work to make better, tastier, and healthier non-dairy versions of milk products, the more choice there'll be for us.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lactase Safe, Despite Newspaper's Mistake

I check through all the newspaper articles that contain the word lactose, just to see if there's any interesting news I can pass on to you.

Today I ran across Top trial lawyer wins big, spends big by Andrew Wolfson in the respected Louisville Courier-Journal.

The article is a big love letter to attorney Larry Franklin, a trial lawyer who gets big settlements for clients. His clients sound horribly hurt and terrifically appealing, like the little girl who got her legs severed on an amusement park ride. This isn't a rant against evil trial lawyers.

What drew my attention to the article was this eye-popping claim buried 29 paragraphs deep into the story:

And in 2004, he and Hance won a $19.2 million verdict against Sandoz Pharmaceuticals and other defendants for marketing a lactose suppressant that they showed caused 32-year-old grocery clerk Mary Gunderson to suffer a fatal seizure after childbirth.

A "lactose suppressant"? Could that mean lactase? I've never in history heard of a serious side effect from lactase. I didn't understand how I could have missed this, but this was huge news that I had to pass on.

Fortunately for you, I checked the claim first before repeating it.

The real story, as reported on the site, is that Mary Gunderson had been given Parlodel, a postpartum lactation suppressant.
Mary Gunderson died suddenly in her sleep one week following the Caesarean birth of her second child. She had been given Parlodel, a postpartum lactation suppressant. The drug had a history of adverse reactions including seizures, strokes and heart attacks dating back to 1983. Plaintiffs prevailed at trial for a total judgment exceeding $19 million, including more than $11 million in punitive damages against manufacturer Sandoz. Sandoz and the prescribing physician appeal.

Parlodel is a serious drug for a serious problem. What's important for you in my audience is to remember that it has no, repeat, no connection to lactose or lactase or lactose intolerance.

Just another case of a reporter misunderstanding a fact new to him and having nobody in the chain of command above him noticing the mistake.

Happens all the time, unfortunately.

Remember. Doublecheck all facts and claims, even those made by legitimate reporters working for well-regarded news sources. They can't be expected to understand or transcribe perfectly every detail of every profession that they encounter, things that are new to them on a daily basis.

Don't let a trivial error panic you. Medications are serious, and problems do occur. Lactase, however, is not a drug. It is also about as safe as anything you can put into your mouth can possibly be.

That hasn't changed. Be happy.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Multiple Allergy Cookbook

The Dairy-free &/or Wheat-free &/or Soya-free BUT Always Totally Nut-free Family Cookbook by Clare Constant and Suzanne Wood was published last month by Strategic Business Transformation Ltd. press. (Strategic Business Transformation press?)

It's an expensive paperback with a $30.00 list price while being only 264 pages. But it appears to have a unique slant.

Book Description
At last an easy-to-use restricted diet cookbook with 100+delicious recipes that everyone in your family can enjoy whether it's dairy &/or wheat &/or soya and nuts that individual members have to avoid. The book's 'every recipe for everyone' system allows you to choose how to cook each recipe safely for your family - with or without dairy, wheat or soya, but always completely nut-free and always using readily available supermarket ingredients. You'll be spoilt for choice. Not only are our 100+ easy-to-follow recipes delicious but we also suggest numerous tasty flavour variations. Recipes include: crispy chicken bites, fishcakes, pizzas, traditional roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, home-made pasta, gooey chocolate and pear pancakes, lemon tart, quick snacks, lunch-box fillers, tea time treats such as scones, biscuits, muffins and the all-important chocolate birthday cake. . Easy-to-follow, safe and delicious recipes . Information about dairy, wheat, soya and nuts . Clear explanations of food allergy and intolerance . Discussion of diseases linked to these key ingredients . Advice on making sure a restricted diet is healthy . Busy cook's shopping and cooking tips . Separate baby and toddler recipe sections . Recipes that children on restricted diets can learn to cook for themselves Bestselling educational writer Clare Constant has teamed up with former Home Economist of the Year and Cordon Bleu trained Suzanne Wood to produce this Family Cookbook. 'My toddler, Sophie, is allergic to dairy, wheat, soya, fish and nuts. When she was diagnosed I longed for a cookbook to help her thrive and me, a working mum, to survive. There wasn't one, so I wrote one.' Clare Constant 'We have food allergies in our family but my kids demand to be fed "normal food" like their school friends - so I developed these recipes to make sure they can. Now, when their mates come home for tea, they can't tell the difference!' Suzanne Wood '... the author's offer very practical, ingenious and creative solutions for the preparation of nutritious, healthy and tasty meals, while staying away from the various types of foods that allergic members of the family should avoid.' Dr Diab F Haddad MD MRCPCH Consultant Paediatrician St Peter's Hospital, Surrey.

From the description, my guess is that this is a British cookbook, which may be useful to the many Brits for whom getting special diet foods is not as easy as it is for North Americans.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gas Guzzlers Unite

Flatulence. That's the medical term for farting, to be used in polite company and newspaper articles.

There's no good polite way to talk about farting, but the science of it is important.

The Canadian Press interviewed Dr. Michael Levitt, the world's foremost expert on gas. (Levitt is probably better known as the father as Steven Levitt, the "Freakonomics" guru.)

So what wisdom can Levitt impart? Here are some pearls.

Studies in which volunteers tracked their gas passage suggest people fart 10 to 20 times a day, with some hitting the 30, 40, even 50 mark...

In the main, flatulence is made up of five gases -- nitrogen and oxygen, which are swallowed while talking, chewing or drinking fizzy beverages, and carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane, which are produced in the gastrointestinal tract during digestion of food.

Gas produced or trapped in the intestine only has three possible routes it can follow. Some will be absorbed into the body. Some will be burped out. And some will pass as flatulence.

People who lack bacteria that break down certain food components -- say lactose, the sugar in milk or some of the sugars in carbohydrates -- may produce more gas when they consume those foods.

That explains the potency of beans. They contain sugars humans can't break down. "So it's automatic that they're delivered to your large intestine, these sugars, where they churn out and make gas," Levitt says.

Levitt noted that there's really nothing you can do to cut down your normal production of gas. Swallowing less air would help, but swallowers generally don't know that they're doing so. Extremely low carbohydrate diets produce little gas, but those can be extremely unhealthy.

Of course, those with lactose intolerance can take lactase pills. And its chemical analog, Beano, will help reduce flatulence from beans.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Are Food Labels Giving the Right Info?

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2006, requires foodmakers to identify, in plain language, the presence of any of the eight major food allergens. For example, a product that contains casein must specify that it contains a milk derivative.

Most firms go much farther than that. You'll commonly see statements about possible cross-contamination at the bottom at a food label. Take Newman's Own Organics' Fig Newmans, one of Paul Newman's product line. There's wheat and milk in the ingredients and those are noted. But underneath the label is a statement that the cookies are made on "equipment that may process products containing peanuts, other nuts and milk powder."

Great, right? Even the possibility of the presence of an allergen is covered. What more could anybody want?

Well, nothing satisfies everyone. And complaints are being raised even about this vast improvement over the old labeling, says an article by Julie Schmit in USA Today.

One complainer is someone I frequently quote, Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). She's worried that manufacturers try to game the system by putting overly-broad disclaimers on the packages so that they don't have to closely monitor their manufacturing processes.

Munoz-Furlong gives one example:

Some Harry & David products include an advisory that is so broad FANN's Munoz-Furlong calls it "ridiculous." The statement: "May contain peanuts and/or trace amounts of allergens not listed in the ingredients."

Harry & David do gourmet food packages, making 571 different products in one facility. They counter by saying:
The company has "robust quality systems" checked by two sets of outside inspectors, [senior vice president Thomas] Forsythe says. Equipment and production lines are sanitized to minimize contamination risks.

Schmit continues:
Still, Harry & David had four allergen recalls in the past year. Three resulted from the wrong labels being applied. One cause was never identified. Three recalls covered products other companies made for Harry & David. Two of those companies are no longer used, Forsythe says. The other stepped up its label-control procedures, as did Harry & David. No illnesses were reported in any of the recalls.

I agree that saying merely "other allergens" is not living up to the spirit of the regulations. The impression I get is that Munoz-Furlong wants Harry & David to identify each possible cross-contamination for each food. From the limited information given in the article, it's not clear to me how the firm could effectively do that. Some compromise might be needed here.

As a general rule, however, I'm not seeing massive wrongdoing. Given that somebody always has to be the worst case in any line of work, I don't doubt that somewhere out there some firm is not keeping the highest quality standards.

The reality is, though, that the worst firm would be the worst firm regardless. And a broad label does keep the most sensitive away. It may keep too many away, to be sure, but I don't see that that's a bad thing. Before labels were required the worst firms were doing all the worst things and not warning people at all. The current system has to be an improvement over that.

The other worry in the article is that the new warnings are confusing for consumers or that they collectively drive up fears about the safety of the food supply.

Again, I'm dubious. People who have experience in checking labels should find the information given to be clear and direct and vastly better than the way things used to be. Those first encountering the world of specialty diets may be overwhelmed at the beginning but I guarantee you that this was equally true when I learned I was LI back in 1978 and I would have shouted for joy to be given labels with the current information on it.

Fearmongers might be using allergy warnings to scare consumers. I read far more articles from people who appear to think that the need to have these warnings at all is ludicrous. They're wrong. More info about our food is a good thing, and the extra line at the bottom of some ingredients lists is about as scary as the Munsters.

Munoz-Furlong has done fine work in the past. She many be seeing examples that I haven't and that USA Today didn't bother to mention. Reality is a constant compromise. We're currently at a pretty good balance, superior to where we were pre-2006. Tweak the system if necessary but keep it going. It's good for all of us.

Bookmark and Share

PETA News That Sounds Like a Joke

When are vegans finally going to disavow PETA for embarrassing them?

Here's the latest, from the Australian site

CUSTOMS officials in the Philippines have seized inflatable sex dolls meant to be used for an international campaign against animal cruelty, an animal rights group said.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it had planned to use the sex toys as props in its Asian campaign against alleged abuses of chickens by a major US fast food chain.

The dolls were to have gone on a tour of red light districts in the Philippines, Thailand and Japan where they would be displayed with a banner reading "KFC Blows", PETA said.

Vegans will not get the respect they deserve until their most public representatives stop these infantile publicity stunts.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

China Discovers Dairy - and LI

Dairy is not historically a part of Chinese cuisine, at least for many of the main regional specialties that are thought of as being Chinese cuisine. The reasons for this are varied, but it is fair to say that milkable animals were never favored in eastern China where the bulk of the population has always been. Anthropologist Marvin Harris wrote about these historic trends in several of his books. (See my tribute to him and some links to his books here.)

With everything else in China being rapidly westernized, it's not surprising that the Chinese are also starting to accept more dairy in their diets. But since the Chinese are mostly lactose intolerant, that means that many of them are now discovering that dairy gives them the gas and other symptoms that those of us who are LI know so well.

So the China Daily put together an article on lactose intolerance for its readers. A very good article it is, too, and in English.

Those wanting a brief introduction to the subject should take the time to read the article for some good basic info.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kosher Food Fastest Growing

Which claim did you see most on new foods next year? "All Natural?" Nope. "No Additives or Preservatives?" Uh-uh.

The answer is kosher. Mintel's Global New Products Database, which monitors worldwide product innovation in consumer packaged goods markets, found that 3,984 new kosher food products and 728 kosher beverages were launched in the past year.

Michael Lando of The Jerusalem Post wrote that Americans alone spend $10.5 billion on kosher products. They include a much wider segment of the population than the two percent who identify themselves as Jewish.

In a survey conducted by Mintel in 2005, 55% of respondents who bought kosher foods said they thought they held a higher mark of health and safety than non-kosher items, 38% were vegetarians and 16% said they eat halal.

Mintel identified the demand for dairy- and meat-free products as the driving force behind market growth. Moreover, food that is certified as kosher is also suitable for Muslims who follow a halal diet.

Americans are fortunate in this broad selection of foods. About 20 times as many new kosher products were launched in the United States and Canada in the past five years than in Europe.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 24, 2007

Subsidized Food Program Recognizes Lactose Intolerance

Poor people in the U.S. eat some of the unhealthiest diets. They aren't helped by government programs that provide standardized food baskets that fail to take heed of special diet needs.

A recent announcement provides welcome news. The Women Infants and Children (WIC) program is changing its policy.

WIC provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

An article at the Athens Banner-Herald by Benjamin Price details some of the changes.
Federal changes to the Women Infants and Children subsidized food program will add fresh fruits and vegetables to its list of free food packages, improving the diets of thousands of local mothers and their children, said Vicky Moody, nutrition services director for Northeast Health District.

"It's a big deal because it's a problem we've been complaining for a long time - that the cheeses are high in fat and there's not enough fruit and vegetables or whole grains (on the list)," Moody said.


Currently, the families are offered only milk, cheese, eggs, cereal, juice and a choice of peanut butter or a pound of dried beans. Women who breastfeed also can get tuna and carrots. The packages don't include fresh fruits and veggies.

"There were not enough fruit and vegetables or whole grains for the parents," Moody said. "You have an overweight mother and you're telling her to eat more fruits and vegetables, but you're not giving her any help to do that."

Earlier this month the USDA finally added fruits and vegetables to the WIC food packages, along with rice, whole grain bread, tofu and soy milk.

In addition to offering a more balanced diet, Moody said adding soy and tofu gives an important alternative to dairy for lactose-intolerant women.

The federal WIC web site has additional information on its FAQ page

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Sweet Vegan

Teens creating special diet recipes must be all the rage in the cookbook world.

I just posted Yummies for Sensitive Tummies a few days ago.

Today I found My Sweet Vegan by Hannah Kaminsky. Kaminsky is an 18-year-old who began a vegan for ethical reasons about four years ago and seems to have done nothing since except experiment with making vegan desserts.

According to Andrew Brophy of the Connecticut Post:

She's already created more than 150 desserts without the traditional ingredients a baker would use, such as milk, eggs, cream, cheese, gelatin and yogurt.

Those desserts include coconut creme pie, chocolate chip cookie pie, triple threat chocolate cheesecake, silken chocolate mousse cake and golden glazed donuts.

Kaminsky's recipes for vegan desserts, which fall under the broad categories of cakes, cookies, tarts, pies, fudge and toffee candy, are in "My Sweet Vegan," which was published Dec. 3 by Fleming Ink.... Kaminsky created all of the recipes in "My Sweet Vegan" and photographed all of the desserts.

You can find the book in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Vegan Fusion World Cuisine

Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, by Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi, one of's Bestselling Vegan Books and winner of 9 international awards including "Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the USA," has been published in a less expensive paperback version.

According to the press release ('tis the season):

More than a cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine is a transcendent, gorgeously illustrated, work of art with tantalizing dishes that form the cornerstone of a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's choice for "Best Vegetarian Cookbook" includes a powerful call to action from Dr. Jane Goodall and endorsements from Deepak Chopra, Pierce Brosnan and John Robbins.

In addition to over 200 world class recipes, this one of a kind cookbook from the chefs of the internationally acclaimed Blossoming Lotus Restaurant on the island of Kauai, is filled with inspirational quotes, and loads of resources, practical tips and techniques for an enlightened lifestyle. Proving that enticing vegetarian meals, beautifully presented, are easy and satisfying each recipe includes simple, well-detailed instructions and mouth-watering photographs.

The authors, chef Mark Reinfeld, and entrepreneur Bo Rinaldi popularized the innovative fusion of international cultures and healthy gourmet cookery, which is the signature of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant. Their upcoming book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw," is due to be released in July of 2008.

You can find the book in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 21, 2007

Learn to Make Soymilk at Home - From YouTube

How many kabillion videos are there on YouTube? I'm sure not even the YouTubers know, because while you just read that sentence another jillion or so were uploaded.

It didn't occur to me to turn to YouTube for getting cooking demonstrations, but then I'm probably the last American never to have seen a show on the Food Channel either.

But a random link alerted me to videos about making soymilk at home. And a quick search showed that some two dozen options are available.

The first one to come up is from a blog, The Daily English Show, which describes itself as "The Daily English Show is the world's first daily online English language show."

Anyhow, show #424 is titled, simply, How to make soymilk.

The Everyday Dish people also have one called Homemade Soymilk. Don't you love informative titles? Everyday Dish is a vegan cooking show that shows its audience how to prepare "meals with whole grains, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, along with tofu, tempeh, seitan and to die for desserts."

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dairy Ease Lactose Free Milk

It's been so long since I've seen Dairy Ease Lactose Free Milk on the shelves that I had come to believe it was no longer being made.

Wrong. I just encountered it while traveling in a Trader Joe's store.

So I sought out its website and lo and behold there it is,

Dairy Ease comes in whole milk, 2% reduced fat and fat free varieties. Each is 100% lactose free by the addition of lactase to the milk. It is real cow's milk, not a milk substitute.

Dairy Ease is manufactured and distributed by WhiteWave Foods Company. Yes, that's the same company that makes Silk brand soy milks. And International Delight nondairy flavored creamers. You won't see that on the front of the package. Look at the top and you'll see the familiar name and logo of Land O'Lakes, the butter people. No conspiracy here. All these brands are owned (or marketed) by the giant Dean Foods Company, the largest dairy processor and distributor in the world.

So why can't the largest milk producer in the U.S. get its lactose free milk into more stores? Beats me. Maybe not enough of you ask your local supermarket for it.

Dairy Ease makes it easy for you with a printable request form at:

For other information, either go to the Dairy Ease contact page or use the following non-Internet methods.

1-800-878-9762 (weekdays 8am to 5pm CT, excluding holidays).

WhiteWave Foods Company
Consumer Affairs
12002 Airport Way
Broomfield CO 80021

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stalking the Elusive Kosher Cheeseburger

A kosher cheeseburger is a mythical beast, almost perfectly oxymoronic. Observing Jews cannot have milk with meat. A cheeseburger is the epitome of the code's violation.

Ingenious humans know that there is an answer for every problem. Just put quotes around "meat" or "cheese" and voilà! A substitute for the real thing that satisfies all technicalities.

Except, perhaps, for the one of taste. Real cheese on meatless patties won't work for vegans or the dairy allergic, and for many of the rest of us is mostly a waste of real cheese.

Soy cheese on top of real beef is also a nonstarter for many. The flavors don't meld together.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a New York chef with the proper industrial-strength equipment to grab flavor by its chemical feet and dangle it slowly over a fire.

That's the story of Effie Nagar, owner of Talia’s Steakhouse on New York's Upper West Side, who experimented with soy cheese to the point where he is now advertising New York's first kosher cheeseburger. (I have my doubts that no one's thought of this before, but puffery in the restaurant business goes back before time and is even legal.)

Peri Grabin Leong wrote about Nagar in the NY Blueprint, the urban Jewish event guide.

After many attempts to melt the cheese, they found the right temperature in a 1950 degree (F) broiler. A broiler so hot it can cook a steak in minutes. After taking my order (Effie recommended mozzarella over American cheese) Effie took me into the kitchen and offered me a taste of the soy cheese. I overcame my natural fear of fake cheese to find that I was right... it doesn’t taste like cheese. As the chef placed my burger back in the broiler I watched the cheese melt over it (yes, very impressive for soy). He placed it on a toasted bun topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles and I walked my burger back to my table.

Like myself, Effie, had never had a cheeseburger before, so he brought some non-Jewish friends to try out his new burger and they loved it. He told me that he’s had some lactose intolerant, non-kosher, customers order the burger. “It’s interesting for them too. It’s the only place they can have [a cheeseburger]. Show me another place [in Manhattan]” he said “I don’t know of one."

Ingenuity like this shouldn't be left to mere restaurant-owning chefs. Every one of us who have to avoid some food in our diets should be looking at experimental variations. Why deprive ourselves? Find the best foods for your personal tastes and indulge.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lactose in Sweeteners

A long, long time ago, before the Net - yes, kiddies, such a dark age did exist - doctors' offices would give out sheets of information on products containing lactose.

I never found out where the information in these sheets came from. Probably they emanated from whatever the equivalent of old wives' tales and urban legends were in medical schools. They were usually inaccurate, misleading, and overly scary.

Most of them had a notation that sugar substitutes contained lactose.

If that was ever true, few commercial substitutes with lactose were on the market even back in 1984 when I wrote my first book on lactose intolerance. As far as I know, those too went away and the problem didn't exist, to all intents and purposes, for over 20 years.

But food technology changes, and old established brands mutate into new forms.

On a recent trip to a supermarket, I found new versions of both Splenda and Equal on the shelves. Splenda Minis and Equal Tablets come in pocket-sized dispensers, perfect for holding over a cup of coffee or unsweetened ice tea or anything that will dissolve a tiny tablet's worth of sugar equivalent.

Handy, but.

The same technology must be involved in both cases because the first ingredients - before the sucralose in Splenda's case and before the aspartame in Equal - is... lactose.

None of their other variations in granular or packet form contain lactose, and I checked several other competitors and found no lactose there either. It's only in the tablets.

These are truly tiny tablets. We're talking maybe 5 mm or 3/16 of an inch. The amount of lactose in any one tablet is so small that they can still legitimately claim that the tablets have 0 calories.

Still, I think you should know. The addition of lactose means that the tablets cannot be considered vegan and they are no longer pareve. Those with dairy allergies who avoid the presence of lactose in medications should also avoid these tablets.

A useful item. Just not for everyone.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Milk, Egg Allergies "Worse Than 20 Years Ago"

A major study of children with milk allergies was published in the November 2007 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (November 2007, Volume 120, Issue 5, Pages 1172-1177), "The natural history of IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy" by J.M. Skripak, E.C. Matsui, K. Mudd and R.A. Wood. I wrote about it in the post Milk Allergies May Last For Years.

A follow-up to that study, concentrating on egg allergies, was just published in the December 2007 issue of that journal. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (December 2007, Volume 120, Issue 6, Pages 1413-1417), "The natural history of egg allergy" by J.H. Savage, E.C. Matsui, J.M. Skripak and R.A. Wood.

Lead investigator Robert Wood said that the twin studies showed that allergies are indeed worse than they were even as recently as the 1980s.

"The bad news is that the prognosis for a child with a milk or egg allergy appears to be worse than it was 20 years ago.

"Not only do more kids have allergies, but fewer of them outgrow their allergies, and those who do, do so later than before."

Based on this trend, allergies are predicted to become even more severe and long-lasting in the future.
"We may be dealing with a different kind of disease process than we did 20 years ago," says Wood.

"Why this is happening we just don't know."

Individual cases, however, appear to be less predictable in their outcomes, as well as more aggressive.

A summary of the findings can be found in an article on Nursing in Practice.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Superfoods: Are You Being Taken Advantage Of?

Functional foods - foods that have been enhanced with nutrients or cultures that are supposed to promote health - are something I've written about extensively in the past.

They may be the next big thing in commercial foods - in fact, they almost certainly are. The real question is whether they are just expensive but worthless add-ons or a real boost to health.

Alex Renton of The Guardian's food section has an intriguing article on the subject, centered around talks he had with leading scientists and firms at the annual Food Technology and Innovation Forum in Dublin.

The rooms were filled with scientists and salespeople from GlaxoSmithKline, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, General Mills, Unilever, Tate & Lyle, Cadbury, Mars, Tesco, Kellogg's and Allied Bakeries - all of them companies planning to make greater profits out of an increasingly nervous public's health concerns. The irony is that, in many cases, it was these companies' products, sugar- and fat-laden, massively processed and brilliantly marketed, that started those health fears in the first place.

'It is not fair to say that these companies are driving the health scares for profit,' says [industry analyst Peter] Wennstorm, whose own organisation, Health Focus International, analyses consumers and health trends for clients like PepsiCo and Tetrapak. 'But they are certainly exploiting consumers' frustrations. "Eating for health" is the biggest growth area in this market - and companies here are looking forward to a world where 100 per cent of consumer food spending is focused on the belief that you can go to the supermarket and buy health and wellbeing.'


The consumer actually wants to buy health and beauty while remaining on the sofa: our lifestyle is less active than it has ever been. Also, the consumer is prepared to pay the same, or more, for less, in terms of energy. These conundrums are exciting a novelty-obsessed industry. That's why Coca-Cola, a company once famous for employing virtually no scientists but armies of marketing guys, is currently carrying out 20 clinical trials on new health beverages, targeting hydration, heart health, bone health and beauty.

And the marketing methods in More and Less products are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Danone, the first brand to specialise in dairy products sold entirely
on their health benefits, this year launched Essensis, a yoghurt drink with antioxidants and Vitamin E 'to nourish your skin from within'. Danone also owns Evian, another brand that's peddling the idea that you can drink yourself beautiful.

The entire article is quite long, but well worth the read.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 14, 2007

Turkey Stuffing for the Super-Allergic

Gastrointestinal illnesses can do severe harm to your intestines and to your ability to digest - break down - foods. One form of lactose intolerance (LI), called secondary lactose intolerance to distinguish it from primary LI, or the type that occurs just from aging, occurs when an illness damages the lining on the inside of the small intestine. That's where the lactase enzyme is made. If that sensitive area is damaged, then lactose won't be digested, either until the area heals properly (so the problem is sometimes known as temporary LI) or permanently.

Other problems can also be caused. But I've never heard of damage as bad as happened to the poor gentlemen who wrote in to Chef Heston Blumenthal's cooking column in the UK's Independent newspaper. Yet there seems to be an answer for everything, even for the extremely severely allergic.

Q. After an illness, I have been left dangerously allergic or intolerant to: gluten, wheat, corn, yeast, nuts, lactose, fructose, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes etc), soya and other legumes. How can I stuff the turkey?

A. Barley's usually OK for people with allergies, as are oats. You could make stuffing with meat from the leg of the turkey, cooked with some onions, garlic, barley, chopped liver, a few oats and a little bit of sage or rosemary.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Yummies for Sensitive Tummies

When Mary Claire McGlynn was seven her gastrointesinal problems were ovewhelming. She was diagnosed with gastrointestinal reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance.

As with many families, the McGlynns didn't know how to cope at first. They served soup until the other sisters rebelled.

That's when they started experimenting with making their own recipes.

Seven years later, Kathleen, Madelyn, and Mary Clair have put together 50 of those recipes into a cookbook, by kids for kids, called The Yummies for Sensitive Tummies Cookbook. Yes, of course there's a website.

You can get the cookbook for $8.99 plus $2.00 shipping or you can try a taste first with an order of a Yummies for Sensitive Tummies 9-Recipe Laminated Cookbook Sampler! for $3.99.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookbooks as Giving Gifts

I know writers don't get any respect, but this is ridiculous. Some poor soul put together an intimate list of cookbooks with special meaning for special groups on the Atlanta Journal Constitution's website and then doesn't even rate a byline. What's the point of an anonymous article written in the first person?

To make up for him or her, here are some of cookbooks mentioned that seem like good tips for my audience. I know I've mentioned some of them before, but that just shows that anonymous has good sense.

Do you know someone who is a vegetarian or wants to learn more about it? Then consider "The Vegetarian Cook's Bible" (by Pat Crocker and published by Robert Rose, $22.95). The first 130 pages are devoted to the benefits of whole plant foods and how good nutrition can affect every body system — from the digestive system to the nervous system. The recipes range from herbed feta dip to apricot apple bars and will appeal to vegetarians as well as those who simply want to include more plant-based recipes in their meals.

Want a book full of beautiful color photographs and recipes that can help you protect your family from disease? Then buy the "The Great American Eat-Right Cookbook" by Jeanne Besser and Colleen Doyle (American Cancer Society, $29.95). Besser is a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and has written four cookbooks. Doyle is the director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society. The 140 recipes adhere to the American Cancer Society's dietary guidelines, but just because they are healthy don't think they aren't tasty. The book also offers three easy steps to make all of your meals healthier. Try the rosemary popcorn for a different twist on the classic snack.

Do you know some one with celiac disease or who is lactose intolerant?
Check out the "Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook" by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt (Robert Rose, $22.95). This book provides a comprehensive review of gluten-free and lactose-free cooking. Individuals with celiac disease need to avoid anything made with wheat, including most breads, cereals, and pastas. This book explores the use of grains less commonly used in the United States, like amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, and teff (Ethiopian millet). It also contains plenty of recipes for rice, a staple for those with gluten-sensitivity.

For those who are always on the run and want to get dinner on the table in a hurry (who doesn't?), try "Quick Meal Solutions" by Sandra Nissenberg, Margaret Bogle, and Audrey Wright (John Wiley & Sons, $15.95). All of the authors are registered dietitians so you are sure to find recipes that are healthful with the added bonus of being easy to prepare. Using the 2005 Dietary Guidelines as its foundation, all of the recipes and meal plans are built around this theme.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 10, 2007

You're All Mutants Out There - And That's A Good Thing

The fantastically swift and widespread mutation that gave 30% of the world's humans tolerance to lactose as adults is one indicator that human evolution has speeded up in recent years.

That's the conclusion that anthropologist Gregory Cochran and his team from the University of Utah has drawn in a highly controversial new study that just appeared in the online version of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here he is quoted by David Biello of Scientific American:

"We found very many human genes undergoing selection. Most are very recent, so much so that the rate of human evolution over the past few thousand years is far greater than it has been over the past few million years."

Ann Gibbons at ScienceNow summarized some of the conclusions.
Evolution has accelerated in 1800 human genes, which encompass about 7% of the human genome, [paleontologist Harry] Harpending's team reports online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Most of the mutations resulted from dramatic population booms, they suggest. As populations expand, the number of mutations increases, boosting the chances for a beneficial genetic variant that can improve survival and sweep through a population (in the same way that a large population of insects develops a gene for resistance to a pesticide faster than a small population).

Although the researchers don't know the identity of most of the genes, they say quite a few appear to be responses to changes in diet and a new wave of virulent diseases that swept through human populations as they began farming. Some examples include mutations that allow adults to digest starch, fatty acids, and lactose in milk, including mutations that arose in Europeans. Others improve the resistance to diseases, such as malaria, AIDS, and yellow fever in Africans. Several genes related to the production of human sperm also have been under selection in the past 10,000 years. Overall, "the pace of change has accelerated a lot in the last 40,000 years, especially since the end of the Ice Age," says Harpending.

The ability to drink milk as an adult has obvious survival advantages, especially in locations with otherwise poor resources and access to important nutrients, such as calcium. Far from milk being a poison, it helped spread humanity across the globe.

Cochran also said:
"We believe that this can be explained by an increase in the strength of selection as people became agriculturalists—a major ecological change—and a vast increase in the number of favorable mutations as agriculture led to increased population size.

Biello reports that:
Roughly 10,000 years ago, humanity made the transition from living off the land to actively raising crops and domesticated animals. Because this concentrated populations, diseases such as malaria, smallpox and tuberculosis, among others, became more virulent. At the same time, the new agriculturally based diet offered its own challenges—including iron deficiency from lack of meat, cavities and, ultimately, shorter stature due to poor nutrition, says anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, another team member.

"Their bodies and teeth shrank. Their brains shrank, too," he adds. "But they started to get new alleles [alternative gene forms] that helped them digest the food more efficiently. New protective alleles allowed a fraction of people to survive the dread illnesses better."

Milk drinking equaled survival. It's still not a bad way to get your nutrients. It's not essential, and no one is claiming that it is today. But it's certainly not poison. Or something that is only for baby cows. Science indicates otherwise.

Note: the controversial part of the study is only whether the speeded up evolution is to be found in so many many parts of the genome.
"I don't deny recent rapid selection," says geneticist Kenneth Kidd of Yale University. "But I am not yet convinced that so much rapid selection at so many places in the genome has occurred. ... I think we need much more data."

The conclusions about milk are all my own. They may be controversial to some, I suppose, but seem obvious and solid to me.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Divvies Delivers

You might remember Divvies from my post Divvies Dairy-Free Halloween.

Now more good news, sayeth their press release.

Due to great customer demand, Divvies now ships their nut- and dairy-free bakery cupcakes anywhere in the continental United States in wonderfully clever packaging -- that does double duty as a cupcake "kit" as well as a gift box. You can decorate your Divvies cupcakes with creamy chocolate and vanilla frosting that comes in the traditional colors as well as this season's festive green, blue and red. The most satisfying element of these gourmet cupcakes is that everyone, with or without food allergies to nuts and dairy, loves Divvies cupcakes and can gather around to join in the celebration with no worries of adverse allergic reactions.

In addition to cupcakes, Divvies is baking up mouth-watering cookies and popping their special recipe popcorns without using four major food allergens peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and milk. What ingredients they've left out, have been replaced by double dollops of the good and the gooey-like chocolate, oatmeal, molasses and caramel, making these confections not only safe to eat for those allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and milk, but absolutely delicious for those without food allergies.


Divvies cupcakes and other fun-foods are Kosher and vegan, and available to share with families and friends across the country by ordering through their website, The products are carefully packed and marked with a clear and easy-to-read list of ingredients. Because Divvies are made to share, they make great gifts packaged in big, festive boxes with bows and cards even for those without food allergies.

The cupcakes come in chocolate or vanilla with various colors of frosting. They're shipped 3-day delivery for freshness. The price is $24/dozen, which includes shipping.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Turtles All the Way Down ... the Gullet

Long, long ago, the dairy lobby got federal and state laws and regulations galore to ensure that no substitute product could ever be mistaken for the real thing. So the soy world is stuck with descriptions like "Organic Soy Delicious non-dairy frozen dessert of the chocolate chip variety."

It's a mouthful, albeit one that many people find flavorful. Like Sarah Jowett at the American Chronicle.

What it REALLY is, in simple terms, is an ice cream cookie sandwich with vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies... but with no dairy products in the ice cream or cookies, and made with USDA certified organic ingredients.

Located in Oregon, Turtle Mountain has been making natural and organic dairy-free products that are distributed throughout the US and other countries like Japan and the UK since 1987. I am not sure this product is made anymore as it's no where on their web site but they do have regular organic non-dairy ice cream sandwiches in vanilla, chocolate, mint and Neapolitan.

So why write about then?

Never mind, I probably don't want to know the answer.

Anyway, Turtle Mountain products are found on the website.

They include the Its Soy Delicious, So Delicious, Purely Decadent, and Sweet Nothings brand names. I don't see any Soy Delicious cookie treats on the website either. In fact, the "ice cream" sandwich equivalents are from the So Delicious brand. Its Soy Delicious are all pints of non-dairy frozen dessert.

Products come and go. The cookies were first announced in 2002 and apparently have been discontinued since then. I'll be taking them off my Nondairy Milk Alternatives - Frozen Desserts page in my Product Clearinghouse.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mrs. Crimble's Goes Dairy-Free

With a name like Mrs. Crimble's, has it got to be good?

Don't know, but the UK baked goods firm is now making many of its product dairy-free as well as gluten-free and wheat-free.

You knew there was a press release around here somewhere:

Following the successful launch of its wheat and gluten free 4 pack Bakewell slices last year the Mrs Crimble's brand has expanded its 4-pack cake range further with 2 new tasty additions.

Mrs Crimble’s 4 Country Slices and 4 Lemon and Coconut Slices which are both wheat and gluten free but also now dairy free!

Mrs Crimble’s has now established itself as the UK’s key wheat and gluten free brand with many of its products now dairy free as well.

It already boasts the top selling wheat and gluten free cake in the UK with its Mrs Crimble’s Large Choc macaroons and has used simple and innovative marketing campaigns to build consumer loyalty.


The 4 Mrs Crimble’s Lemon and Coconut slices have a moist sponge base, a tangy lemon jam filling and are topped with glazed lemon pieces. Whilst the Mrs Crimble’s Country Slices are a rich moist fruitcake slice packed with sultanas and sprinkled with sugar.

Both these high quality products come in 4 packs and they retail at £1.49p.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nog It In A Non-Dairy Way

Oh, no! How could I have put off my annual holiday article on non-dairy egg nog? Oh, well, sometimes even Homer nogs.

As usual, Vitasoy has rolled out its Holly Nog for the season. Lactose-free, gluten-free and dairy-free, Holly Nog is soy-based and vegan.

Silk also puts out a seasonal Silk Nog which is similarly dairy and egg free, with soymilk, sugar and flavorings the only ingredients.

The VeggieBoards discuss the merits of Silk and Vitasoy and also offer some recipes for making your own vegan nogs.

For a more traditional nog aimed at those who are only lactose intolerant, Brenda at provides a recipe using eggs and Lactaid milk. Of course, any lactose-free milk will do.

(Lactaid itself introduced a seasonal Lactaid Egg Nog in 2005, but I can't find any evidence that it is being produced this year. Let me know if you see it in stores.)

Last, and very odd, is Rebecca's modification of a Cooking Light recipe to make a non-dairy, lactose-free Eggnog Cream Cheese Pie. Looks too advanced for me, but cooks out there should try it and dazzle their friends.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Award Winning Wheat/Gluten and Lactose Free Ginger Mini Loaf

Over in the UK, the Caterer and Hotelkeeper Excellence in Food and Drink Awards, first given out in 2001, in association with 3663 First for Foodservice, held its annual award ceremony at London’s Dorchester hotel. Celebrity chef-restaurateur Aldo Zilli was host. The awards honor (or honour) the achievements of manufacturers and suppliers to the food service industry.

A full list of the winners is available at

The reason I'm taking notice is the winner in the Healthy, Organic and Ethical Products category. That would be Delicious Alchemy's Wheat/Gluten- and Lactose-Free Ginger Mini Loaf. (Which beat out Delicious Alchemy's own Wheat/Gluten-Free Rolls among others shortlisted.)

As CatererSearch elaborated:

This moist, sticky cake - hailed by the judges as "a great dessert product" - was the first to be designed for the food service, conference and eating-out markets covering the UK's largest allergy group.

It is estimated that 10% of hotel and restaurant guests avoid wheat, gluten and/or lactose, and the retail market for these products is worth £81m out of the total £90m market for the entire free-from sector.


This is all very worthy, but the proof is in the eating, and the judges backed up Delicious Alchemy's claims that the cake tasted just like a "normal" version, concluding that it "compares well with ones that are not gluten-free". They were lavish in their praise for both the look of the loaf ("looks nice" and "cute" with "a good top") and its taste and texture, which was described as "very pleasant", "summery", "very moist" and with a "strong ginger flavour".

Delicious Alchemy normally sells only to institutions like hotels, but it looks like you can order smaller quantities from it's web site. It looks like all of its products are both gluten and lactose-free.

Why do I keep saying "looks like"? Because its web site is so badly done that the pictures and text overlap each other to make the information unreadable, in two different browsers. Please, spend some money on a web designer, and fast.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chocolate: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Vegan... is the brainchild of Stephane Barbier, born in France and with a European love of fine chocolates.

In the New York Sun article by Carolyn Slutsky, Barbier is quoted as saying that the site is for people who prefer quality over quantity, always a code for "expensive." He plans to host chocolate-tasting parties in New York City over the next few months.

"I do believe chocolate is the next wine connoisseur thing," he said. "People don't know much about it and, as much as wine has made inroads — people know about it, and they go to tastings — I think chocolate has reached levels where people will come."

A look at his website shows that he has specialty chocolates for many special needs, although the selections are not huge.

For example, there are only two choices under dairy-free chocolates, the Vosges Haut-Chocolat Chocolate Bars Bundle and a 5 pc. KeKau Olive Oil Origins. "Single estate olive oils are paired with single origin chocolates resulting in a "to die for" experience."

Vegan chocolates include the Vosges Haut-Chocolat Exotic Mini Candy Bar Library Box; Theo Chocolate Sipping Chocolate, Chipotle Spice; Vere Fruit + Nut Tile Box, 12 pc.; and the Vosges Haut-Chocolat Chocolate Bars Bundle.

Most of the above are also gluten-free, along with several other goodies, and there are a few MarieBelle selections that are kosher.

Chocata is offering free ground shipping this week with the purchase of any of the box assortments listed on that page.

For more information email them at

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 03, 2007

Levana Cooks Dairy Free!

Levana Kirschenbaum is another chef who writes cookbooks. She's co-owner of the Levana Restaurant in New York and a native Moroccan who uses her heritage in her kosher cookbooks.

Her latest is Levana Cooks Dairy-Free! Natural and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite "Forbidden" Foods.

Book Description

Fifty million Americans are mostly or completely lactose intolerant. The majority assume that steering clear of dairy means giving up their favorite dishes. Respected caterer, baker, and restaurateur Levana Kirschenbaum sets out to change that perception with this collection of creative and luscious recipes, all significantly leaner than their dairy-rich counterparts and made with natural dairy substitutes such as soy, rice, oat, and almond milks. Enjoy delicious foods such as Avocado Cucumber Soup, Blueberry Scones, Salmon Tomato Quiche, Tofu Spinach Lasagna, and Chestnut Almond Pudding with Chocolate Sauce. With a wide selection of both vegetarian and meat meals, these recipes will surprise and delight both the casual cook and the five-star chef.

You can find her book on the Lactose-Free Books and Cookbooks page in my Milk-Free Bookstore.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lactose Free Cheese From Canada

I received an email from Pierre Gattuso of Gattuso Inc. letting me know about Biobio Certified Organic Cheese.

The best part about Biobio is not the name (sorry) but that most of the cheeses they offer are lactose free. True lactose free cow's milk cheeses. Those include:

Medium Cheddar
Extra Sharp Cheddar (aged 1 year)
Extra Sharp Cheddar (aged 3 years)
Extra Sharp Cheddar (aged 5 years)
7% Cheese [low-fat]
Grated Parmesan

Two other cheeses contain less than 0.5% lactose:

Mild Cheddar

How do they do that, you ask. The FAQ explains:

Q. Why are biobio cheeses either lactose-free or 99.5% lactose-free?

A. Biobio organic Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses are made with organic raw (unpasteurized) milk. The lactose normally found in milk is digested by the bacteria naturally present in raw milk and by those added to it (lactic culture) during the aging of the cheese.

The 7% and Mozzarella cheeses are also 100% lactose-free, but for a different reason. Made with pasteurized milk, the lactose is washed out with water during the cheese-making process.

The mild Cheddar and the Swiss are 99.5% lactose-free because they are not aged long enough for the lactic culture to eliminate all of the lactose.

Apparently 3 to 6 months of aging is not sufficient to remove all the lactose. It takes at least 6 to 9 months to do so. Take that, Jeffrey Steingarten.

Biobio cheese is available in stores all over Canada but seemingly not in the U.S. I don't know about their shipping policy, but here's their contact information:

1100 de la Gauchetière Street West
Suite 253
Montréal, Québec H3B 2S2
Telephone: (514) 875-2222
Web Site:
Linda Deschenes, Sales Coordinator:

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy Tenth, Me

Just about this time of year in 1997, Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse went up onto the net. It's been running continuously since. I don't feel like a pioneer, but that has to be longer than about 99% of the web sites in existence today.

The idea behind the site was simple. My book, Milk Is Not for Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance, had been published in hardback in 1995 and in trade paperback in late 1996. Research for the book had taken me forever to compile, yet I knew that much of it would be outdated as soon as the book hit print. Even back then the appeal of the internet as affording opportunities to continually update information was obvious and overwhelming.

The site contained just a few pages at first, mostly summaries of information for quick perusal. Posting was easy, except for the one slight hitch that I didn't yet know HTML. A few HTML books later, some web experience, questions from readers, and better understanding about what I could do online, a revised site looking pretty much like what you see now went up in...

Heck, I don't remember. You think I keep good records or something? Let's say 1999.

The site has had more than quarter million hits (I changed web counters at some point and lost track). I've received literally thousands of emails from people in more than 30 countries, many of them extremely complimentary. I feel like I've helped many people and that's why I wrote my book and set up the site in the first place.

Those who have gone to the website know that in 2005 (that date I know) I had a stroke. The Clearinghouse was already getting huge and unwieldy, almost impossible to update and actually impossible to keep current and correct. It needed an overhaul, a remodeling, a modernization, and a sweeping out of the cobwebs. Right. Like I do that stuff even on my real house.

I had already started this blog a couple of months earlier. When I regained the ability to type with two hands I had to make a decision. You know the result. I opted to make the Planet Lactose Blog my main site, post a single article a day, and make spot changes accordingly on the Clearinghouse without the comprehensive restyling that it needed. While some days that feels like GM getting into the go-cart business, mostly it's a zippy relief.

The Clearinghouse is still there. Still has loads of info on LI Basics and Dairy Facts. Still lists every single book in print and available on Amazon (over 200) on every subject of interest in the Milk-Free Bookstore. Still lists hundreds of reduced-lactose and milk alternatives in the Product Clearinghouse. And more stuff can be found tucked in every corner and behind every clickable link.

Not a bad legacy even for ten years. And with well over 500 posts here on Planet Lactose, there's enough material for a thick book to flip through when you get tired of browsing the Clearinghouse.

A thick book. Hmmm.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, November 30, 2007

Intolerance of Intolerance: Follow-up

Opinions have consequences, as Jay Rayner has discovered. I posted yesterday's Cheese and Lactose about his screed in the British Guardian newspaper, full of uninformed opinions and dubious alleged facts. Commenters continue to eviscerate him for as much how he said it as for what he said, and he's posted a defense which I'll get to.

First, I have to introduce to you Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. She's a chef and the co-author of the formidable Leiths Techniques Bible, an 800-page "ultimate cookery reference book."

More specifically, however, she's the author of the piece in the Guardian's food section that put Rayner on the high horse that he is in the process of the long fall down from.

The article told of Lucinda's experience as a mother of two sons, the first who had egg and dairy allergies, the second who grew out of those allergies only to face a lifetime with gluten intolerance.

The result was, of course, a book, detailing the recipes she developed for kids with multiple food allergies, How to Cook for Food Allergies: A Guide to Understanding Ingredients, Adapting Recipes and Cooking for an Exciting Allergy-free Diet. You can find the book on The book is technically available on the American but not deliverable before Christmas. [Added 12/2: It's the British edition of the book that can be ordered through Amazon now. The American edition, from Reader's Digest books, will be launched in January.]

Lucinda listed a number of dairy substitutes in her newspaper article that are sensible, if basic for more experienced readers.

· Use soya or rice milk with cereal and to make white sauce, batters and mashed potato.

· Use olive oil instead of butter for frying, grilling and roasting.

· Use 2 tbsp vegetable oil to replace every 40g butter for making a roux to thicken soups, sauces and stews.

· Use dairy-free hard-baking margarine instead of butter in cakes, dough and crumbles.

· Use soya single cream instead of whipping or double cream in homemade ice cream.

· Use mayonnaise as a base for dips and sauces.

Rayner, meanwhile, is in deepest doo-doo for his infelicitous, not to mention brain-dead, line, "I suspect the vast majority of coeliacs are actually attention-seeking frauds, as with so many of the people claiming food intolerances and allergies," which followed the smarmy "where were all the coeliacs when we were kids? Where were these battalions of people who couldn't eat bread or pasta because it made their tummies hurt? Locked up in their parents' attics?" It's incredibly hard to eliminate gluten from the normal British or American diet. Wheat is in everything. (More so than lactose, but thanks for the thought, Lucy.) I tried a gluten-free diet back in the days when my IBS hadn't been properly diagnosed, let alone mitigated, and it was a trial I was happy not have to endure for more than a few weeks. I imagine that not even the trendiest of food faddists would gladly voluntarily pretend to have coeliac disease just to posture at posh parties.

Rayner has the tiniest smidgen of a point, though. I posted How Sick Are You, Brits? almost a year ago, when Allergy UK reported that more than a third of the population believed itself to have food intolerances. I haven't let up since. (See Brit Docs: It's All In Your Minds and "Rubbish" Says Dr. Miriam and even Doctors: Learn to Diagnose Celiac Disease!)

In a comment on the comments, Rayner tries to distinguish between his disdain for the faddists and for those with genuine illnesses:
I feel for anybody who is genuinely Coeliac or who suffers from a genuine food allergy. Happily I have none of these serious conditions and I can eat anything I like. For food, that most comforting of things, to be the very cause of pain, distress and illness is terrible.


There are people out there regularly claiming food intolerances they don't have. I regularly meet people who tell me they can't eat dairy, or eggs or chocolate or coffee or, sod it, the whole bottom half of most peoples' fridges. ... It is faddism of the worst kind and if I was one of the people who has come on to this site spitting tacks because they are a genuine sufferer I would also hate them.

I feel the same way. Or I would if I thought there existed the number of people making these complaints that Rayner imagines. We must live in worlds even more violently different than I would have taken for granted, however, because I never seem to encounter these fakes. Perhaps my table manners prevent me from getting invited to the sort of parties that Rayner frequents, but here amongst the common folk, people don't avoid major food groups unless they are forced to by genuine suffering.

Can Rayner and I settle our differences, since we seem to agree on the main point?

Not hardly. He also went on to write this magnificent piece of bent wisdom:
(Don't get me started on the lactose in cheese thing; we'll have to agree to disagree).

Pistols at dawn, Rayner!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cheese and Lactose

Lately it seems as if I've found at least one anti-food ailment crusader spreading his or her whine about cheese across the internet. Today's was Jay Rayner's I refuse to tolerate food intolerances on The Guardian's food page.

I suspect the vast majority of coeliacs are actually attention-seeking frauds, as with so many of the people claiming food intolerances and allergies. How many times have you heard someone claim at dinner that they couldn't eat cheese because they are 'lactose intolerant'? When, as the great American food writer Jeffrey Steingarten has pointed out, there is no lactose in cheese. The very process of cheese making removes the lactose.

I don't know who Jeffrey Steingarten is because I avoid food writers as assiduously as Rayner avoids fussy eaters, at least fussy eaters who aren't his type of fussy eater. I bet Rayner can be a terror at a dinner, sneering at the arugula or scorning the foie gras or smiling as a truffle he had nosed out of the ground earlier now appears shredded delicately over a quail's egg.

I do know that Steingarten is wrong. Not as wrong as Rayner would have him, however, but still wrong. Since unlike Rayner I do research everything I write, I found Steingarten's original statement. It's from his book The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits.

I know several people who have given up cheese to avoid lactose. But fermented cheeses contain no lactose! Lactose is the sugar found in milk; 98 percent of it is drained off with the whey (cheese is made from the curds), and the other 2 percent is quickly consumed by lactic-acid bacteria in the act of fermentation.

It's true that most cheese comes from the protein-heavy curds after the lactose-laden whey is drained off. The process of aging cheese yields a hard cheese that normally has much of its lactose removed. So much so that a few cheese makers can advertise a true milk-based lactose free cheese. See the examples on my Reduced-Lactose Milk Products page on my Product Clearinghouse site.

There's a contradiction between all cheese being lactose free and only a very few making this a selling point by billing themselves as such. The reason is simple. Most cheeses are not lactose free.

(I need to make a quick side point here. Several brands of cheese that I don't list on my Reduced-Lactose page claim on their labels that they have 0 grams of lactose per serving. That claim is true but possibly misleading. U.S. law allows manufacturers to claim 0 grams of an item by rounding down from an actual value of less than 0.5 grams per serving. That doesn't sound like much. However, a serving of cheese in those cases is 1 ounce or 28 grams. If you assume that 0.4 grams of lactose remain, the lactose percentage of the serving is 1.4%. Not large, but not negligible either. How do I know that the actual amount is not really 0.3, 0.2, or 0.1 g per serving? I don't. I wish I did, but that specific number is not going to be made available to me or you or any consumer. I'm positive that the actual number is not 0.0. That's because another U.S. government regulation mandates that any food on whose package appears the words lactose free must be completely lactose free. If they could say it they would. It would be great for sales. Since they don't...)

Now, four reasons why the claim that all cheese is lactose free is wrong.

1) Not all cheese are made from curds. There are whey-based cheeses, the most familiar of which is ricotta, brown Norwegian cheeses like brunost, and German quarg. All are soft cheeses and are likely to have a lactose percentage approaching those of some liquid milks.

2) Some cheeses are not aged or hardened and produce familiar smooth or curdish cottage cheese, and cream cheese in the U.S. and has variants as paneer in India and Queso Blanco in Mexico. All of these soft cheeses normally have 3-4% lactose contents.

3) Even hard, aged cheeses show remarkable variation in lactose percentage when formally tested. I have a page I call the Really BIG List of Lactose Percentages in the Dairy Facts section of my web site. Cheese ranges were taken from Samuel A. Matz: Ingredients for Bakers, McAllen, TX: Pan-Tech International, 1987. A few averages I couldn't find in Metz appeared in Newer Knowledge of Milk and Other Fluid Dairy Products, rev. ed., National Dairy Council: 1993. As you can see for yourself, virtually every cheese shows a range of lactose from 0.0% up to a remarkable 5.2%, as high as the whey cheese ricotta.

Mozzarella, the pizza cheese often eaten in mass quantities, shows a range of 0.0-3.1% lactose. Some quick Googling found that the standard cheese pizza slice has 12-13 g of protein. Multiplying by 8 slices yields a minimum of 100 grams of cheese, maybe not far from a quarter pound if a generous hand was used, leading to the inescapable conclusion that a large pizza contains about 3 grams of lactose. I won't overstate that quantity, but I will remind people that cheese is also often added to the sauce and butter to the dough. 3 grams of cheese can cause someone sensitive to lactose to have a sore and mightily complaining intestinal track for the rest of the evening.

4) Nor does that eliminate all the cheesy comestibles. Americans have cheese food. We are entering a a realm that reinvents foods the way the witness protection program reimagines mob families.

Steve Ritter at the Chemical & Engineering News is our source scholar.

For pasteurized process cheese, the final product can have a maximum moisture content of 43% and must have at least 47% milkfat. An interesting twist is that the product alternatively can be labeled as pasteurized process American cheese when made from cheddar, colby, cheese curd, granular cheese, or a combination of these; when other varieties of cheese are included, it must be called simply American cheese.
[My Note: American cheese can have a truly wide spread, anywhere from 0.0-14.2% lactose. That's a concentrated lactose cheese product packing three times the lactose of a glass of milk per equal serving.]

Here are some of the other definitions:

Pasteurized process cheese food is a variation of process cheese that may have dry milk, whey solids, or anhydrous milkfat added, which reduces the amount of cheese in the finished product. It must contain at least 51% of the cheese ingredient by weight, have a moisture content less than 44%, and have at least 23% milkfat.

Pasteurized process cheese spread is a variation on cheese food that may contain a sweetener and a stabilizing agent, such as the polysaccharide xanthan gum or the Irish moss colloid carrageenan, to prevent separation of the ingredients. The cheese must be spreadable at 70 F, contain 44 to 60% moisture, and have at least 20% milkfat.

Pasteurized process cheese product is process cheese that doesn't meet the moisture and/or milkfat standards.

Imitation cheese is made from vegetable oil; it is less expensive, but also has less flavor and doesn't melt well.

For the record, Velveeta is pasteurized process cheese spread and Velveeta Light is pasteurized process cheese product. Cheez Whiz is labeled as pasteurized process cheese sauce, although that type isn't noted in the Code of Federal Regulations. A Kraft spokeswoman confirms that the word "sauce" just seems to be an add-on.

Eating heavy amounts of lactose may not occur very often in a formal cheese tasting among cubes of hard cheese. That may be the world of Steingarten and Rayner.

It's not mine. I know that much cheese served for the American palate has been cheapened by the use of oils or of milk fats and milk solids, each designed to return a dairy sort of taste to the final product.

Jay Rayner may never deign to enter American food blow-outs. Steingarten may choose to keep his innocence hid about the mysteries of the foods sucked down by the plebeians. Maybe the expensive, hand-labeled, personally-shipped delicacies of the garden that are dropped upon his massive center table, round and with arrow scars that carry stories that go all the way back to Guenevere and Lancelot even if the table truly was distressed by a pair of Welsh in the back of a furniture shop, maybe the good stuff sits there alone and distresses nobody.

Only Jay Rayner does. For he is a snob, and an ignorant snob at that, and worse, an ignorant snob who appears not to have learned a single thing over the past two or three years since he wrote his original column he thought so much of it and us that he reprinted it now.

Those giving him comments are giving him hell. I don't see any of the wounds doing more than glancing off, but collectively they may give him a belly ache that he'll open some comfort food for, perhaps a big can of beans on toast.

Don't tell him about Beano. It would just confuse the poor lad.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Milk: No Mucus, No Asthma

Today I found not one but two separate and independent articles debunking some of the myths that are associated with milk (and sometimes deliberately promulgated by the anti-milk community). Good going, newspapers: there may be hope for you yet.

One was from Australia's

The National Asthma Council has teamed up with Dairy Australia to encourage people with asthma to dip into dairy this summer and bust the myth that dairy foods can trigger or exacerbate asthma.

"The fact is, dairy foods do not cause asthma," said the council’s director, Dr Janet Rimmer, a respiratory physician and allergist from Sydney.

"There is no medical evidence to connect the two – but despite this, some people with asthma cling to the old wives’ tale and may restrict or completely remove dairy foods from their diet.

And in the U.S. Contra Costa Times, Ed Blonz knocks down the oft-repeated nonsense that milk causes a buildup of mucus.
There was a study in the February 1993 issue of the journal Appetite that tested for a milk-mucus effect in 169 people, 70 of whom believed that milk produces mucus. The scientists compared milk with a soy-based drink that tasted identical. (They had done a pre-test to establish that people could not identify the different beverages.) They found that there was no difference in the subjects' perception of mucus production. The scientists concluded that it was the sensory characteristics of the beverage -- and not the presence of milk -- that gave rise to the sensation of coating of the tongue and throat.

Skip ahead to December 2005, and a supplement to Journal of the American College of Nutrition focusing on many aspects of the relationship between dairy consumption and health. One of the articles in this issue reviewed evidence that milk consumption might lead to an increased production of mucus, or that it might contribute to asthma. All participants were prescreened for a milk allergy. The paper concluded that there was no support for a connection between milk and mucus production, or milk and asthma.

Meanwhile, back in Australia:
"What tends to happen is that people confuse the coating that milk can leave on the back of the throat with mucus," Dr Rimmer explained.

Simple confusion, and another myth debunked.

A good day's work for all.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ah, Soyabella

Making soymilk is not the easiest process at home. Of course, these days there are gadgets that will do anything for your except pick up your socks.

The Soyabella Soymilk Maker by Tribest is designed to make making soymilk quick and easy, so its ad copy says.

The Soyabella Soymilk Maker is the elegantly easy way to make fresh soymilk and a variety of other delicious recipes in your own kitchen. Simply add soybeans and water to the Soyabella Soymilk Maker and you get fresh soymilk in about 15 minutes. Soyabella is also great for making milk from a wide variety of beans, as well as for making fresh rice milk, rice paste, sesame paste, and porridge. It can even be used as a coffee grinder and mill by using included accessories. Plus, the Soyabella Soymilk Maker is extremely easy to clean.

Tribest, the site I linked to, is the maker of the Soyabella. It can be purchased there for $129, but a quick Google search shows that it is available elsewhere for less.

Tribest contact information:
Toll-Free (888) 254-7336
International +1 (714) 879-7150

You can also go to the Tribest site and find information about distributors in Germany, the UK, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lactose-Free Airline Food

Not that long ago, anyone traveling with lactose intolerance had to trust to luck and a pocket full of lactase pills.

Today's travel is much easier, at least with regard to that small aspect. noted that:

Singapore Airlines comes top for the most diverse range of meals, boasting 14 different categories, including kosher, Muslim, Hindu, vegetarian, diabetic, fat-free, gluten-free, low sodium, low calorie, non-carbohydrate and lactose free.

Admittedly, short hub trips within the U.S. normally don't serve any meals at all these days. However, longer in-country trips and almost all overseas flights will include meals.

Make sure you contact the airline before your flight and inquire about food options. (Well before, not last minute.) If lactose-free or dairy-free is not a direct option, ask about kosher, Muslim, vegan, or gluten-free meals. One of the alternatives will probably work.

If not, trust to luck and a handful of lactase pills.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen

The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen: Delicious and Nutritious Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Dishes is a new paperback by Donna Klein. Its list price is $18.95.

Book Description
Tasty and easy-to-prepare meals-without meat, wheat, or gluten-from the author of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

Whether due to food allergies, celiac disease, or dietary preferences, many people want to eliminate gluten from their diet. Now it can be done without losing the zest. Limiting or cutting out grains can seem daunting, but The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen makes good use of other vegetarian foods that don't contain gluten-like fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans, oils, legumes, rice, and gluten-free flours. With appealing recipes and food options, vegetarians can maintain a satisfying, well-balanced diet.

The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen provides:

- More than 225 gluten-free recipes from appetizers to desserts
- Tips for successful gluten-free cooking and baking, with explanations and definitions of terms and ingredients
- Nutritional analysis of calories, protein, saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sodium
- Vegan and low-carb options

You can find The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen on the Wheat & Gluten-Free Books page in my Milk-Free Bookstore. Klein's The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook: 240 Healthy and Easy No-Prep Recipes for Busy Cooks, along with her The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Italiano: Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Dishes from Sun-Drenched Italy are all listed on my Vegan Books and Cookbooks page.

Bookmark and Share