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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great Chefs Cook Vegan Cookbook

The name Carper has inspired both derision and doubts about my authenticity - I was a critic and book reviewer for years - but at least it's fairly rare. Try searching for Linda Long and see how many irrelevant hits you get.

I just wanted to be sure that I hadn't already mentioned her new cookbook here. I haven't, though I'm not sure how I missed it. I found it just in time to include in with other cookbooks released in 2008 because of a press release that announced an award it won:

For her cookbook Great Chefs Cook Vegan, a compilation of high-end vegan-cuisine recipes from an elite array of renowned chefs, New York resident Linda Long has won the Best Vegan Cookbook category in PETA's Sixth Annual Proggy Awards. Long will receive a framed certificate and will be featured on PETA's award-winning Web site PETA's Proggy Awards ("Proggy" is for "progress") recognize animal-friendly achievements in commerce and culture. Long shares the honors with Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman, authors of the best-selling vegan cookbook Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.

Long has put together the finest creations by the finest chefs, including Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Suzanne Goin. Great Chefs Cook Vegan is filled with recipes for three- to four-course meals from culinary A-listers who have omitted the animal products that they usually work with in order to create 100 percent vegan menus. The book's high-end cuisine - including zucchini boxes provençal, grilled king oyster mushrooms, and avocado carpaccio with charred jalapeño oil and caramelized silken tofu brûlée - will have vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike asking for seconds.

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

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Everybody Needs More Vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for many reasons, not least because it helps the body absorb calcium better. I've been telling you You Need More Vitamin D with Your Calcium and that there are Vitamin D Deficiency Problems in Teens and Adults.

Now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has announced that it is doubling the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents.

The previous recommendation, issued in 2003, called for 200 IU per day beginning in the first two months of life.

The change in recommendation comes after reviewing new clinical trials on vitamin D and the historical precedence of safely giving 400 IU per day to the pediatric population. Clinical data show that 400 units of vitamin D a day will not only prevent rickets, but treat it. This bone-softening disease is preventable with adequate vitamin D, but dietary sources of vitamin D are limited, and it is difficult to determine a safe amount of sunlight exposure to synthesize vitamin D in a given individual. Rickets continues to be reported in the United States in infants and adolescents. The greatest risk for rickets is in exclusively breastfed infants who are not supplemented with 400 IU of vitamin D a day.

Adequate vitamin D throughout childhood may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. In adults, new evidence suggests that vitamin D plays a role in the immune system and may help prevent infections, autoimmune diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Adults may be higher recommendations as well, according to an article by Carol M. Bareuther on the Triton.
On the heels of the AAP’s announcement, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) is set to review its recommendations for adults. Currently, adults up to age 50 should consume 200 IUs per day, adults aged between 51 and 70 should have an intake of 400 IUs, and adults aged 71 and over should consume 600 IUs.

I've noticed that major brands like Caltrate and the store brands that copy its lead have labels proclaiming "advanced levels of vitamin D" on its bottles of Calcium 600+D calcium supplement. That means 600 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D in each pill.

Be careful not to overdo the D. There are warnings associated with amounts of 2000 IU per day and over.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gluten-Free French Toast?

Following yesterday's post on a chef who apparently didn't know the meaning of dairy-free, I find another chef who apparently doesn't know the meaning of gluten-free. UPDATE: I should have pointed the finger of blame at the reporter, not the chef. See the comments.

Becky Coffey of the Harbor News, wrote about Russell Marcello, chef at and co-owner of the Paperback Cafe in Connecticut.

"Introducing the gluten-free menu is helping to support the restaurant by selling more meals than I otherwise would have," said Marcello. "My customers are enthusiastic, too. Some customers that would just pick up a cup of coffee at the counter before now have been converted to dining room customers; others are completely new customers."

And what are among his gluten-free choices? French toast for breakfast–soy milk can be substituted for cow's milk for those who are also lactose-intolerant. Or for lunch, it's Chicken Parmesan. And for dessert, customers can choose from either brownies or crème brûlée.

Gluten-free French toast? It's not impossible, of course, but you have to start with a gluten-free bread, something that's not mentioned anywhere in the article. The kind of bread used for French toast would be a fairly important specific for those seeking to avoid gluten. Gluten-free brownies are also possible, but again need special attention.

And despite the possibility of getting soy milk in your French toast, the rest of the items mentioned are hardly friendly to the lactose intolerant. Chicken parmesan? Crème brûlée? Crème brûlée is heavy cream with egg yolks and sugar.

Look, creating a gluten-free menu is a fine gesture, and not an easy one for a chef to manage at a busy restaurant. The details are crucial, however. Maybe it's just in the way that Coffey wrote the article, but I would want far more reassurance than I'm given that the meals are safe. She may have done Marcello a disservice. Or she may have inadvertently alerted people to a problem.

As always, check for yourselves, and don't take claims for granted.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Three-Course Dairy- and Gluten-Free Dinner

"A deliciously light healthy meal" is the article called this complete dinner, created by Maria Cachia.

The starter, a delicate pumpkin soup which may be served either hot or cold with Parmesan shavings is the perfect comfort food especially coming in after the cold and rain.

With Dean Martin’s let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, softly playing in the background we moved onto the main course, tuna steaks marinated in a mustard sauce which went perfectly with the roasted green and orange peppers offering a balance between the two.

To finish off the great evening, the dessert, a wonderful apple crumble with vanilla pods and small blobs of custard was the perfect end to the dinner, without leaving you feeling too full or bloated but comfortably satisfied.

The complete recipes for the dinner can be found in the article.

Translations into American:
Aubergine = eggplant.
Courgettes = zucchini.
Castor sugar = superfine sugar.

Skip the parmesan shavings. And doubly note that goat's butter is exactly as much dairy and lactose as cow's butter. Somebody must have hit Ms. Cachia over the head with bad British nutritional advice. Stick to dairy-free margarine.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Speaks

From an apparently authentic interview with Santa Claus. I mean, it was printed in a paper, so it has to be real, doesn't it?

Q: Do you have any nut allergies or are you lactose intolerant?

A: No! Ho Ho Ho! But I won’t eat the peanut butter cookies right away. I take them home and eat them there so that I don’t contaminate other cookies - just in case someone else is allergic!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Diet Coke Not Functional Food

Functional foods are growing to be the next big food fad. Adding nutrients or probiotics, or claiming that they have extra nutritional value, makes a regular food "functional."

You know that this will be a huge fad because it is already being abused.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called Diet Coke Plus "misbranded … because the product makes a nutrient content claim but does not meet the criteria to make the claim."

Diet Coke Plus does have nutrients added. In the Atlanta Journal Constitution Joe Guy Collier wrote that:

Its labeling says that each 8-ounce serving provides 15 percent of the daily reference value for niacin, B6 and B12 and 10 percent of the daily reference value for zinc and magnesium.

This is about as meaningful as adding a sprinkle of vitamins to a kid's cereal and then claiming that it's healthy.

Diet sodas are slightly better for you than regular sugared sodas, but mostly are expensive carbonated water. Nobody should have such a ridiculously unhealthful diet that a smidgen of nutrients added to diet soda would make a difference. It's total marketing hype and not worth your dollars.

Be a smart consumer and think about any "healthy" claims that products make. A label plastered across a package touting its wonderfulness isn't always going to be real. If a food really isn't functional, don't bother with it. And don't believe that functional foods will magically make you healthier. Only a good, balanced diet will do that.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Dairy Free Cool Soups

You know what the next big trend in foods will be? Pre-packaged, drinkable soups-to-go. They don't even need to be heated to make them palatable.

Go Appetít is one of the firms jumping in on this game. And all their soups seem to be dairy free. At least that's what their press release tells me.

Go Appetít makes three delicious Cool Soup flavors to help support a healthy weight-loss plan. All are shelf-stable and need only be chilled. Drink them out of the bottle or pour them into a bowl and garnish with fresh herbs or whole wheat crackers:

rich vegetable gazpacho
$2.99/8 oz bottle
Go Appetít's take on this classic Mediterranean chilled soup is silky smooth, flavorful and nutritious. Cool Soup's rich vegetable gazpacho contains cucumber, tomato paste, green bell pepper, onion, olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and garlic. 100 calories. Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Peanut and Tree Nut Free.

creamy mango spice
$2.99/8 oz bottle
This refreshing, vitamin-packed soup contains mango, peaches, coconut cream, sweet potato, apple juice concentrate, mint and hint of chili pepper. The surprising touches of chili and mint elevate this soup to an exotic little indulgence. 110 calories. Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, and Peanut Free. Contains coconut.

luscious carrot bisque
$2.99/8 oz bottle
Go Appetít's newest flavor features a savory blend of carrots, sautéed onions, sweet potatoes, chicken stock and olive oil to give it a rich, silky smooth body and weighs in at only 60 calories. This vitamin A rich (380% of the daily requirement!) bisque is best served chilled and enjoyed right out of the bottle, making it perfect for an on-the-go energy boost or as a low calorie meal replacement. 60 calories. Dairy Free.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lots and Lots of Vegan Recipes

Bryanna Clark Grogan's Vegan Feast Kitchen has a seemingly endless number of vegan recipes, with detailed instructions and pictures.

She also has a website with even more stuff on it, and lists of special holiday-themed recipes.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Follow-Up on Hidden Allergens

I did a series of posts last month, including Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled and Good Intentions May Still Hide Allergens, based on the major investigation of food ingredients and labeling that the Chicago Tribune instigated.

The Tribune ran a follow-up to that earlier article today with Tribune investigation prompts stores to pull food items, by reporters Sam Roe and Ted Gregory. They detail what happened when they contacted the dozens of companies which their investigation found to not have accurate or complete food labels.

Most complied instantly. A few just didn't seem to get it.

Please read it. This is an important piece of work.

Just a hint of the results:

A snapshot of findings from the Tribune database:
47: Percent of products recalled for hidden allergens since 1998 were not announced to the public.
5: Average number of products recalled each week for hidden allergens.
7: Percent of consumer complaints that result in mislabeling recalls.
One third of all products recalled for hidden allergens are cookies, candy, ice cream or snacks.
36: Number of firms with five or more recalls for hidden allergens since 1998.
50: Percent of allergen recalls involving undisclosed milk or eggs.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Divvies Holiday Allergy-Free Tips

Divvies is a dedicated nut- and dairy-free gourmet bakery. Owners Lori and Mark Sandler are masters of promotion and publicity as well, putting out press releases with amazing frequency. Fortunately, their releases have more meat to them than most. Like this long list of " simple ideas to help make the Holiday's [sic] more palatable for children with food allergies."

1. R.S.V.P. as soon as your family receives an invitation. You want to make sure you give your hosts (and yourself!) plenty of time to comfortably work out allergy-free solutions. This gives them the opportunity to purchase "safe" foods (like those offered by or prepare foods using allergen-free ingredients.

2. Bring an allergy-safe and delicious dessert that everyone will enjoy. Make sure the dessert you bring not only tastes great but looks intriguing and festive. And that means serving platter included. Don’t bring over something the hostess has to scrounge around for a platter to put it on. She’s busy, don’t add to her work.

3. When home baked foods show up at your home as gifts and you are not sure of the ingredients, have alternative "safe" foods available for your child, so she doesn't feel left out of the celebration. These should be special treats, not the usual fare.

4. Ingredients in packaged goods sometimes change due to the season or recipe changes by the manufacturer. Always check ingredient lists and manufacturing practices on packaging to make sure that foods are still safe.

5. If you are the host for a large gathering where there are a lot of children and close supervision of what is being eaten might be difficult, steer clear of offering any items known to be highly allergic (e.g. peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, etc.). Make the whole table largely allergy-safe so everyone can relax and enjoy.

6. If you are a host for a smaller gathering where close supervision is less of an issue, serve a variety of food, but make sure the items, that are free of common allergens, are well-marked.

7. When hosting parties, know your guests and don’t be afraid to ask if anyone planning to attend your party has any allergies. Find out ahead of time and avoid making guests feel self-conscious about their allergies during the party.

8. Say, "Thank you!". After the party make sure to express your appreciation for all that your host did to make the event a safe, fun and inclusive occasion.

My tip: hire PR firms that are literate or at least can hire someone to proofread their releases.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jean Duane GFCF Videos

Jean Duane bills herself as the Alternative Cook. Her latest discovery is that some people are gluten intolerant and dairy allergic.

The press release said:

The Alternative Cook helps those who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Autism, Crohn's Disease, IBS, ADD, ADHD, gluten and dairy intolerance. Children with Autism reportedly improve on the Spectrum when following a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Nursing mothers can reduce colic in their babies when following this type of diet.

Sounds good. Unfortunately, there's more that I'm not so enamored of:
Casein is a protein found in dairy products. People who think they are lactose intolerant may actually be reacting to the protein rather than the sugar (lactose) in dairy products. Protein reactions can be severe and can cause long-term health problems.

It's true that some people mix up lactose intolerance and milk protein allergy, but that's probably a very small percentage of the whole. GFCF is the latest fad diet and is probably unnecessary for many people. Her intolerance quiz is one of those pseudoscience compilations that ascribe all sorts of common, everyday complaints - low energy, aches and pains, an "unclear" mind - to whatever ailment they're purporting to clear. And it doesn't matter what the doctors say:
Even people who pass all of the doctor’s tests report that they feel significantly better and loose [sic] weight on a gluten-free and/or dairy-free diet.

Heads, you go on my diet. Tales, you go on my diet.

However much nonsense the rest of the site might be, I suppose it's worth presenting to you because it's certainly helpful to have more good milk alternative and substitute recipes available. Check out her Alternative Cook website and the video streams page for the recipes and cooking instructions.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Other Milk Alternatives

We hear about soy milk all the time these days. But "milks" can be made from a huge variety of nuts and plants.

The latest Earth Talk column from the editors of E/The Environmental Magazine covers some of these "milks."

Other tasty and healthy alternatives to cow’s milk include those made from rice, almonds, oats—and even hemp. According to the health and wellness website, almond milk is rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium and "may be one of the more nutritious milk alternatives on the market." It is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. Rice milk, Sixwise reports, is mainly a source of carbohydrates, and should not be considered a nutritional replacement for cow’s milk, though it is "a useful replacement for milk for taste and cooking purposes."

Hemp milk, which is made from the seeds of hemp plants but contains none of the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana, can be a good source of protein, calcium, omega fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals. Another good alternative is oat milk, which is high in fiber, free of cholesterol and lactose, and contains vitamin E, folic acid, and other healthy elements and minerals.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Food Faddist Nonsense Redux

"Dairy products are thought to put extra pressure on the liver."

That bit of total absolute idiocy, the most flagrant food faddist nonsense I've seen in many a moon, comes to you courtesy of The UK. I should have known. Is there anyone in the country dispensing food advice that isn't a crackpot? Females, please put this site last.

Once they scraped me off the ceiling I put iron bands around my stomach to keep my gorge from rising and set off to investigate how such a loony tunes notion could come into being.

The clue came from the article's title, "Christmas Countdown: Festive Detoxes." I've railed against detox diets before, in Detox Your Brain, Not Your Diet.

Somehow the detox numbskulls and the "milk is poison" dimwits have met head on, presumably crushing the one brain cell left between the groups. Take a look at the nonsense packed into The Problem of Meat and Dairy Products, a page that is the equivalent of an internet black hole because when you get that much fraudulence packed into that small a space, no intelligence can escape.

Meat is harder to digest than plant foods and continues to putrefy in the digestive tract, taking about 4 to 4 1/12 hours to be absorbed in the intestines versus 2 to 2 1/2 for grains and vegetables. Purification produces toxins and amines that accumulate in the ,liver, ...

That's cut and paste from the site, BTW.

Look, meat does not putrefy in your intestines. Colon cleansing is a scam. Milk does not affect the liver. You can't detox the body because there is nothing to detox.

Don't get taken in by these quacks and fraudsters. Don't even listen to them. Don't allow them to poison the inside of your brain. Take a stand now.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookbooks for More Than Cooking

Megan McArdle's "Holiday gift guide: Cookbook edition" in The Atlantic is the type of cookbook guide I really go for. She looks at books that teach you about cooking and food far more than books than merely compile recipes. The difference between following a recipe and making good food is knowing how to cook, and what affects taste.

This is especially true for specialty cookbooks, because it's far harder to cook when the palette is restricted. She mentions three vegan cookbooks that she particularly likes.

Vegan with a Vengeance and Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are, by far, the most fun vegan cookbooks I own. The recipes really are delicious, easily enough to recommend them to non-vegans. I've made brunch for non-vegans a ton of times who never recognized that they were having a vegan meal.

The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-
Goudreau. Indispensible. Vegan baking is tricky--it turns out eggs are really, really useful. This book explains what it's doing and why, and incidentally, produces some pretty amazing desserts. The tofu chocolate mousse is the fastest, easiest, most elegant dessert you can whip up on absolutely no notice.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. If anything, even better than the original omnivore book. Not all the recipes in here are vegan, but many are, and they're clearly marked. A number of others are veganizeable. But really, don't think of this as a book for vegetarians; it's a book for everyone who eats vegetables.

All these cookbooks can be found in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Anaphylactic Reactions Than Previously Reported

A Mayo Clinic study reported that anaphylactic reactions reported in emergency room visits increased from 30,000 to 50,000 over the decade from 1990 to 2000.

The study, entitled "The etiology and incidence of anaphylaxis in Rochester, Minnesota," by Wyatt W. Decker, M.D., chief of emergency medical departments at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and his team, reported that there were 50 emergency room visits per 100,000 population per year caused by anaphylaxis.

The actual increase is probably smaller than a two-thirds rise because reporting was much better than in earlier studies.

"We don't think the incidence of anaphylaxis has doubled, but through the Rochester Epidemiology Project we were able to much more meticulously identify cases which in other studies might not have been identified," says Dr. Decker. "So this study gives us a more accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem. Still, we did see about a 10 percent increase in cases of anaphylaxis over the 10-year period of the study."

Other findings from the study include:
-- Children ages 0 to 19 are at the highest risk for anaphylaxis.
-- Insect stings accounted for 19 percent and medications for 14 percent of cases. The rest were due to some other cause (e.g., cats, latex, unknown).
-- None of the medical records involved a fatal reaction.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Science of the Human Past

"The Science of the Human Past." Doesn't that sound cool? It was a symposium recently held at Harvard.

At it Mark Thomas, of University College, London, "presented evidence about one of the strongest forces that has driven human evolution in Europe over the past 20,000 years: milk." according to an article by Alvin Powell of the Harvard News Office. Here's his summary of what Thomas had to say.

Thomas' research showed that a gene variant for "lactase persistence" (LP) that allows humans to digest milk into adulthood — uncommon in most adult animals and in many human societies — swept across Europe sometime in the last 20,000 years.

To spread so rapidly, Thomas said, the gene must have conveyed an extraordinary survival advantage to those possessing it. Though science has not yet identified the specific advantages at play in early Europe, there are several potential candidates. Among them is that milk provides a ready source of calories, protein, calcium, and fat, particularly during the winter or during crop boom-and-bust cycles. It also provides an uncontaminated source of fluids, perhaps lessening illness and parasitic infections; and obtaining it may be a more economical use of lands than farming.

"In Europeans, this is probably the most strongly selected part of the genome in the last 20,000 years," Thomas said.

Thomas found that the gene variant coincided well with the rise of animal domestication, indicating that humans became dairy farmers almost as soon as they began to keep animals.

To track the gene's spread across Europe, Thomas designed a computer model that took into account both archaeological and genetic data. He then ran multiple simulations, randomly changing other variables and looking for patterns that matched what is known today.

The closest matches pegged the rise of milk-drinking Europeans to about 7,400 years ago in central Europe. The spread matched the known rapid spread of Europe’s first farmers, the Linearbandkeramik culture.

"The spread of the LP variation was shaped by selection and by an underlying demographic process, the spread of farming," Thomas said.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Neanderthals Were Lactose Intolerant

I'm written many times that the ability to drink milk as an adult is a recent cultural phenomenon. All mammals who manufacture lactose as the sweetener for their mother's milk produce the lactase enzyme, the one that digests lactose, only up through the age of weaning. After that the lactase production stops, since the body naturally thinks that the animal won't drink any more lactose after being weaned from it.

Nature didn't reckon with humanity's ingenuity. For one thing humans developed ways of milking other mammals. And they fermented or cultured the milk so that it would last longer in warm climates, making products such as yogurt and kefir and cheese. Yogurt and kefir and cheese also happen to be naturally much lower in lactose than regular liquid milk.

So people started eating dairy products.

Here's another odd fact about the human body. A small percentage of humans have a spontaneously mutated gene on Chromosome 2. That mutated gene never sends the signal to turn off lactase production. That means that those people can have all the dairy products they want, even regular unprocessed milk, all their lives.

Milk, no matter how many crazy claims you hear, is a really healthy product, full of vitamins and nutrients, especially calcium. People who can have loads of milk tend to be healthier than those who don't. It's not a huge difference, but even if only 5% of the population with the mutated gene out-reproduces the rest of the populations, the mutant gene will spread rapidly, in historic time.

That's why northern Europeans tend to be lactose tolerant. It all started around 10,000 years ago, with the first instances of dairying and herding and milking and milk processing. Before that time you would expect almost all humans to be lactose intolerant. Natural selection would have no pressure to drive the mutant gene through any population.

Can we get any confirmation of this hypothesis?

Just out is a statement that Scientists have decoded half of the Neanderthal genome. The Neanderthals, another species of humanity that are now thought to have been wiped out by modern humans, died off well more than 10,000 years ago. And analyses of 38,000-year-old Neanderthal DNA "suggest that Neanderthals were lactose intolerant, hardly surprising since the ability to digest dairy products in adulthood only became common in humans after the domestication of cows, 10,000 years ago."

Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalis probably didn't interbreed, and the Neanderthals didn't evolve into us. We were two different species that happened to share the earth at one time. We outcompeted them. Happens to animals all over the world in every time in history.

That either makes us very special or very ordinary. Let the philosopher in you decide which.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bloggers Drive Me Crazy

Here's a story that is intended to make your eyes pop out of your head.

From Axis of Logic:

Manna Storehouse began 9 years ago as a small ordering group called the Stowers Co-op. At the beginning, it was run by John & Jackie Stowers and their 2 oldest boys, Chris & Chad. Eventually we expanded from 3 families to over 60 regular customers. Within the last 3 years, we have gone through a major transition time. We began ordering on a weekly basis, plus splitting cases for our customers and selling the left over items as retail. Thus, the Stowers Co-op became Manna Storehouse, creating what is now a non-working food co-op. ...

On Monday, December 1, a SWAT team with semi-automatic rifles entered the private home of the Stowers family in LaGrange, Ohio, herded the family onto the couches in the living room, and kept guns trained on parents, children, infants and toddlers, from approximately 11 AM to 8 PM. The team was aggressive and belligerent. The children were quite traumatized. At some point, the “bad cop” SWAT team was relieved by another team, a “good cop” team that tried to befriend the family. The Stowers family has run a very large, well-known food cooperative called Manna Storehouse on the western side of the greater Cleveland area for many years. There were agents from the Department of Agriculture present, one of them identified as Bill Lesho. The search warrant is reportedly supicious-looking [sic].

Agents began rifling through all of the family’s possessions, a task that lasted hours and resulted in a complete upheaval of every private area in the home. Many items were taken that were not listed on the search warrant. The family was not permitted a phone call, and they were not told what crime they were being charged with. They were not read their rights. Over ten thousand dollars worth of food was taken, including the family’s personal stock of food for the coming year. All of their computers, and all of their cell phones were taken, as well as phone and contact records. The food cooperative was virtually shut down. There was no rational explanation, nor justification, for this extreme violation of Constitutional rights.

Doesn't that make your blood boil? It's designed to. It's almost perfect propaganda. The Axis of Logic site is run by people who "identify 'Corporate Global Empire' as our common foe and the enemy of the people. We believe that all current, viable political parties in the U.S. are in service to the empire and do not represent the people." They tackle the stories the mainstream media won't tell you. They are from a number of countries, but this particular article appears to be written from Venezuela, where the Axis is a supporter of Hugo Chavez.

That's not the problem here. After all you can find any number of American blogs that contain or reprint this story in all its gory details: the SWAT team, the children with guns pointed at their head, the recriminations for the crime of not cooperating with the evil government.

There seems to be one slight problem with this scenario. It may not be true. Not even close to the truth.

It took more than a week after the raid for the police side to get out. When the police are at fault in a situation - and they often are - the aftermath is almost consistent: defensive tones, attacks on the victims, implications of huge crimes committed and/or prevented by their actions. These are so futile they work about as well as writing GUILTY on their foreheads.

That's one reason I find the police statement more convincing than the bloggers.

Here's what the Cleveland Plain Dealer, admittedly one of the mainstream newspapers, has to say.
[T]he Lorain County Sheriff's Office, which conducted the "raid" along with the county Health Department and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is puzzled by the outcry over what it calls the "very uneventful" execution of a simple search warrant. ...

[Sheriff's Capt. Richard] Resendez said four deputies conducted the search over three or four hours - not the nine claimed on some sites. There was no SWAT team and no semiautomatic weapons.

"We don't even have semiautomatic weapons," he said.

One officer carried a shotgun, Resendez said, and the family was kept in one place to control the area, as is standard for any search warrant.

"Nobody was held at gunpoint," Resendez said. "That's definitely something that didn't happen."

Why did the "raid" take place?
Assistant County Prosecutor Scott Serazin said any business that sells perishable foods must be licensed and follow regulations covering those who store and supply food. There is no exception in the law for a co-op, Serazin said, and Manna cannot ask customers to waive safety regulations.

So what we have is the same public who are currently screaming at the banks and financial institutions for running their companies into the ground and at the government for not regulating the industry or providing proper oversight or protection of consumers now screaming at the government for trying to regulate an industry and trying to provide oversight and protect consumers. Only this time it's consumers who want the government to keep out of their affairs and allow them to buy unregulated foods.

Right. These are people who want the government to protect us fro tainted milk coming from China, but not to even investigate any foods grown here locally. The government can't be trusted for them, so it can' be trusted for us, although it should do their jobs properly for them. Or as a Rush Limbaugh tribute site says:
The freedom to purchase food directly form [sic] the source is increasingly under attack. For those who have food allergies and chemical intolerances, or who are on special medical diets, this is becoming a serious health issue. Will Americans retain the right to purchase food that is uncontaminated by pesticides, herbicides, allergens, additives, dyes, preservatives, MSG, GMOs, radiation, etc.?

The irony is killing me. It may eventually kill all of us if we don't get our heads clear and realize that we can't be against regulation and for it at the same time, and that the interests of companies are all alike, whether they are tiny co-ops or multinational corporations.

If there was ever a time in the history of the U.S. where government regulation has been shown to be badly needed, but butchered and diminished by anti-government zealots working within government to benefit corporations, this is the moment. I want more food regulation, and not less. I want the government to check foods coming into the country from abroad and I want the government to check the foods coming from local growers who want the power to do whatever the hell they feel like doing with our food, according to whatever idiot notions of food and nutrition may have leaked into their minds. I want it both ways.

I want to know what's in food and have it labeled properly so I can make my own decisions. Are you a raw milk freak who think you can magically keep your cows healthy when no one in history has managed to do so? I want to know that. Does this mean you may need to get a license? Pass an exam? Allow inspectors on your property? Fine with me. You should do all that and much more.

Before you run off and read more blogs ranting on this subject, remember this: as of today we still don't have full statements from the Stowers family and we don't have full statements from all the police who took part. We don't have full information on the supposed violations or the laws that were allegedly broken. We don't have any evidence of police vandalism and we don't know what was or wasn't taken.

Personally, I'd like to have that information before I make up my mind. But I'm not your typical blogger, apparently.

Good thing for you.

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Most Consumers Never Think About Soy

What we don't know can hurt us.

Ignorance about soy and soy products is depriving the majority of Americans from the benefits of soy products and soy alternatives to milk.

That's the conclusion of a study conducted by 8th Continent soymilk owner Stremicks Heritage Foods, reported on by

The article by Shane Sterling said:

More than 50 per cent of consumers polled in a recent survey admit they know very little about soy with less than one in five consuming soy products on a weekly basis, according to a new survey.

Less than one in 10 said they had discussed the health benefits of soy products with doctors or health care providers, while 36 per cent of adults and 41 per cent of parents had never tried a soy food or beverage. ...

But only 17 per cent consume soy products on a weekly basis; 34 percent monthly.

About 37 percent have drunk soymilk with about 40 percent of respondents saying they have never tried it because they believe it tastes bad. A quarter said they found it to be too expensive or felt they did not know enough about its health benefits.

Of course the study is somewhat self-serving. 8th Continent will be launching a product fortified with the additives that consumers already try for by other means. It's still helpful to have some concrete information on the alternative market, one that few outside the industry have any facts about.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and comprised more than 2000 US adults. About a quarter of these had children under 18 years old.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Don't Water Down Baby Formulas

Here's a sad and frightening article, Too much water not good for infants by Dan Kelly of the Reading Eagle.

A Florida woman brought her infant son, unconscious and convulsing, into the St. Petersburg Hospital emergency room.

The diagnosis: Water intoxication.

The mother told doctors she had been adding water to her infant's formula to conserve the powder.

"Basically, babies do not need water," said Dr. Mary Ann Mancano, chairwoman of St. Joseph Medical Center's pediatrics department. "The side effects of too much water go all the way to seizures, coma and death."

The Johns Hopkins Hospital issued a warning that, if a baby is given too much water over time, the child will become malnourished and underweight. Symptoms may include irritability or sluggishness; their face may swell and their eyes may flutter hours before the child goes into convulsions.

This is a dismal side effect of the current recession. Desperate parents try to make every food stretch and can unwittingly do their children harm.

The article makes the good point that breastfeeding is cheaper than formula and always healthier than watered-down formula could ever be.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Parma! Vegan Parmesan Cheese Replacement

Mike Adams of the Natural News raved about Parma! Vegan Parmesan, a non-dairy vegan parmesan cheese substitute.

It's sold in a shaker, just like conventional parmesan cheese, but it's made from plants, not dairy. Just pure, simple, all natural ingredients with no MSG or yeast extract.

The combination is shockingly similar to real parmesan cheese. Really, the taste will absolutely fool you. And here's a secret recipe I discovered that functions as a kind of "cheese replacement" in your cooking:

Just take several heaping spoonfuls of regular hummus (made from chickpeas), then sprinkle on a generous serving of this Parma! product. Mix it up with a fork and slather it on top of a corn tortilla covered with organic quinoa and spicy black beans. Pour some fresh salsa on top and sprinkle with fresh cilantro. You've got "cheese" tortillas!

Parma! comes in Original and Chipotle Cayenne flavors. You can find out more about the products and locations you can purchase it at the Eat in the Raw website.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Canadian Allergy Alerts Page

You all have the US alerts page,, bookmarked, I hope.

I want to remind you that the Canadian government maintains a similar site. Look for the What's New links on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency page.

You'll see a number of alerts about such items as undeclared milk in various foods.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

LI Celebrity Video: Devin Hester for Berry Chill

I first wrote about Berry Chill a few months ago when the store opened in Chicago.

Barry Chill Yogurt Bar press release.

Berry Chill opened its first location in [Chicago in] January 2008. Two more locations are planned to open in the upcoming months. Berry Chill provides their customers with a daily menu of Original chilled yogurt and rotating flavors that include Chocolate Amaretto, Pina Colada, and Pink Guava (lactose-free). Customers can customize their yogurt or choose from a list of signature creations.

Review of Berry Chill from the Chicago Maroon.

Berry Chill apparently is trying to get a lot bigger than just a few local stores. They recruited football star Devin Hester and put a 30-second commercial up on YouTube. You can see it above.

And the cool thing is that Devin Hester is lactose intolerant.

Berry Chill, Chicago's first all natural yogurt bar, today launches a 30-second digital video commercial starring Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester. Hester is known for his lightning-quick decisions on the field, earning him the nickname "Anytime" -- the inspiration behind the 30-second online video available now at

The Berry Chill video opens with Devin Hester on the football field for the kick-off. As the ball comes toward him, he decides whether to "wave fair catch," "take a knee" or "run like hell," and graphics show his thought process as computerized options. Later, he applies the same precise decision-making at Berry Chill, only this time he's choosing his favorite toppings. "I've been a fan of Berry Chill yogurt since this summer, when I discovered that it's lactose free," said Devin Hester, who is lactose intolerant. "It's the first time I've been able to enjoy chilled yogurt, and I really appreciate that it's high in protein, too."

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Friday, December 05, 2008

New Go Dairy Free Cookbook

Alisa Fleming runs the other big website about lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and all things generally dairy free, and it's called GoDairyFree.

She has news big enough to warrant a press release.

Alisa Fleming, creator and chief editor of the informational website, has released her second book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Fleming’s first book, Dairy Free Made Easy, sold out within six months, but rather than reprint, she opted to expand the guide to include an entire cookbook section. In the process, she also dramatically increased the already sizable dairy substitutes section to be the largest available in any guide or cookbook, and updated with the latest health information and more tips on dairy-free living.

Recognizing various dietary needs, Go Dairy Free caters to individuals who are also vegan, egg-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, and nut-free, with special diet tips throughout the guide and an easy to read food allergy chart of the 200 plus recipes.

The recipes cover homemade dairy alternatives, meals, desserts, and everything in between, offering a unique blend of comfort food appeal and nutrition. To fulfill cravings, readers will find numerous recipes for stovetop macaroni and "cheese," lasagna, enchiladas, creamy soups , "milk" shakes, and "ice cream." For everyday needs, there are also recipes for breakfast foods, such as homemade granola and pancakes; celebrations, such as birthday cakes with various types of frosting; and quick snacks, such as instant puddings and easy dips.

In order to make the information available to as many people as possible, Go Dairy Free is being offered in both paperback and ebook formats. Both the physical book and ebook can be purchased directly from In addition, Go Dairy Free is available via,, and Amazon Kindle for kindle subscribers.

I constantly send people over to her site to check out the huge array of information she has. If you haven't already been there, what are you waiting for?

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vegan à Go-Go!

Sarah Kramer had one of the cookbooks featured in last year's Bestselling Vegan Books post, about's bookstore's bestsellers.

She's back this year with a small oddity, Vegan à Go-Go! A Cookbook & Survival Manual for Vegans on the Road. It's a "best-of" plus, a "compilation of recipes from her first three vegan cookbooks, along with 20 new recipes."

Kramer, a Canadian who lived in Victoria, B.C., got featured by the CBC in a feature article by Shaun Smith titled "Non-traditional holiday fare from Canadian cookbook authors."

The new pocket-sized volume is designed to help vegans overcome cooking challenges while travelling. "These are recipes for surviving that visit to your family who live in Meat-ville," she writes.

Even better, Kramer's vegan Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe got its own page.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

FAAN Names New CEO

I write about FAAN, The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, or its many programs, almost every month, it seems. They've been around almost as long as I have, which means they were early adopters in the allergy biz.

They describe themselves as:

the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially fatal condition that afflicts about 12 million Americans, or one out of every 25. A nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., FAAN has 30,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 62 other countries. It is dedicated to increasing public awareness of food allergy and its consequences, to educating people about the condition, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by it. FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials. For more information, please visit FAAN at,, and

I automatically associate Anne Munoz-Furlong with FAAN. And why not? She was FAAN's Founder, and has acted as CEO for its first 18 years. She and FAAN seem interchangeable.

And yet, 18 years is an era. And so Anne and her husband and FAAN co-founder Terry Furlong, will be stepping down from the day-to-day operation of the organization, although Anne will stay on the Board of Directors

To replace her, FAAN has chosen Julia E. Bradsher as its new CEO.
Dr. Bradsher brings to FAAN extensive knowledge of anaphylaxis, a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction. For the past six years, as Senior Director of Marketing, she led the marketing team and strategic planning for all Dey Pharmaceutical products, including EpiPen(R), an autoinjector device containing epinephrine, a drug that can stop an anaphylactic reaction. In that role, she has dealt extensively with leaders in the allergy-related scientific community. She has also conducted research on the needs of those who suffer from food allergy and anaphylaxis. ...

Bradsher holds a Ph.D. in medical sociology from the University of Miami and a master's in business administration from the Sawyer School of Management at Suffolk University in Boston. She has authored 10 journal articles, seven book chapters, and other solicited publications, and she has held research and faculty appointments in private research institutes and universities.

So, a welcome to Dr. Bradsher and a hope that she understands the very large responsibilities she has taken on. I use FAAN as a constant resource, which means that it is one of the few places I trust to give me accurate information. On the Internet that's a very high compliment indeed.

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Allergies May be Genetic

I hate it when newspapers run press releases and make them appear to be real articles. It happens a lot more than people think. Sometimes the paper will rewrite the article to lessen the connection, but other times, especially in smaller papers, the release is run just as is.

I quote from press releases all the time to alert you to new products and services. That's not the issue. When I tell you I'm getting information from a press release that should make you understand that you are getting only one side, and that side with the most positive spin possible. The product may still be a good one, but you should realize you need to check it out more for yourself.

Many people believe that this is what newspapers do for them. Not so. Very few critical articles, examining both sides of an issue, are run by smaller papers. They don't have the time or the expertise, and they don't want to offend advertisers. Filling space is often their main concern.

I'm saying all this because I find what sure looks to me like a press release, not rewritten, not critically examined, on the North Florida NewsDaily website.

Titled "Are Food Allergies Genetic?" with a slug line of "Courtesy of ARAcontent" rather than a reporter's byline, the article is basically an ad for Neocate, a hypoallergenic "elemental" amino acid-based baby formula for infants who, for various reasons, cannot handle milk-based or soy-based baby formulas. I talked about Neocate before, most recently in Dairy Allergies Damage Parents Too, for which I did some research and discovered that the Act Against Allergy website was another arm funded by Neocate. They have good promotional and marketing people. The product is a fine one as well, as far as I know. Just remember that different arms of the same firm are recommending it.

And here's one more arm of the same octopus. The NewsDaily article ends:

If you suspect your child might have a food allergy, visit for a free test and information you can download and discuss with your baby's pediatrician.

You guessed it. is yet another Neocate site. The test, which you can receive free by giving them your name and email address, may even be a legitimate test. But I'll bet that whatever the results say, you'll also get a pitch about how wonderful Neocate is for milk or dairy allergy.

Neocate, you might want to know, is made by Nutricia North America, a huge pharmaceutical company that is itself only the United States division of SHS International, a United Kingdom-based global leader in clinical nutrition since the 1960s. They have lots more money for marketing than I have time to track down all their arms. A peek beneath the octopus is all I can do.

Bottom line: Neocate is one of a line of important elemental baby formula products. They may be useful for a highly allergic baby. Or they may be expensive overkill. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before going further.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

First Non-Dairy Starter for Smoothies and Desserts

Nasoya tofu introduces a soy-based non-dairy starter, according to this press release.

The first ever non-dairy "dessert starter", new Silken Creations from Nasoya is naturally flavored, dairy free, low in fat and calories, has no cholesterol and is gluten free. It comes in the three most popular flavors for smoothies and desserts: Dark Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry.

Chef, nutrition educator, and cookbook author Maribeth Abrams enjoys the versatility of "Silken Creations". She says, "Silken Creations adds a rich chocolate flavor to Chocolate Mousse and cake recipes. The smooth and creamy consistency of the Vanilla really gives a boost to Key Lime Pie, puddings, frosting, and fillings. The strawberry makes every fruit smoothie taste delectable." ...

Made from whole soybeans and sweetened with cane juice, Silken Creations is low in calories (only 110-120 per half cup serving), low in fat (only 1-1.5 grams) and is a good source of protein (3 grams).

Designed for placement in the fresh produce aisle, Silken Creations has a suggested retail price of $2.49-$2.89 per package. For ordering and further information, contact Nasoya Sales at (978) 772 6880.

About All Natural Nasoya:
The first brand of authentic tofu brought to North America, Nasoya has been one of the top-selling tofus for 30 years. It is produced by Vitasoy USA Inc., the soyfoods pioneer which is committed to producing delicious, innovative foods that promote our health and well being. Look for the company's premium tofu, soymilk, Asian noodles and wrappers, and non-dairy salad dressings and sandwich spreads under the brand names Vitasoy® and Nasoya®. For more information and quick and easy recipes, visit and

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Entrepreneur of the Year

From an article by Heidi Lees-Bell on the UK's Institute of Commercial Management website.

A Dorset businesswoman and founder of Nutrichef, Barbara Cox has been voted the winner of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) Entrepreneur of the Year Award. ...

Each of the winners received a certificate at the gala dinner, and GD Environmental Services, the winner of the Award for Outstanding Business Achievement also took home the top cash prize of £50,000 courtesy of RBS Group.

Barbara Cox, founder of Nutrichef Ltd., is a member of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce, and won the Staples-sponsored award because of her innovative, healthy meal-delivery service business.

Her niche business provides freshly-prepared, wheat-free, dairy-free meals direct to customers’ homes – including people fighting serious illnesses such as cancer, individuals trying to lose weight and sportsmen and women.

Congratulations, Barbara. Sounds like an excellent business and an excellent service.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Milk Free Bookstore Big Update

Books as presents? What a wonderful idea! Easy to shop for, easy to send, easy to keep for yourself if you decide they're too good to give away to your lowlife relatives.

Here's the deal. I finally, after much too long, got around to updating my Milk Free Bookstore in my website, Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse.

I first put the bookstore together almost ten years ago, when I discovered and its crazy, quirky, utterly frustrating search engine. Trying to find books on lactose intolerance, on lactose-free, dairy-free, or milk-free cooking, on dairy or milk allergies required a million searches on a variety of keywords.

I knew that you out there didn't have the time to slog through all that, so I did it for you.

At the time I found around 50 titles that would qualify as of interest. I've expanded that list over the years to over 220. They now sorted into ten categories:











I went through my blog for all the cookbooks I mentioned so far in 2008. With a couple of exceptions that either did not show up or were too peripheral to count, I've made sure there's a link to each of them in the Milk Free Bookstore.

You can link directly to Amazon by clicking on the picture of the book cover.

Of course, I'm just pointing out the availability of these titles. This is not an endorsement of the books, the authors, the publishers, or Amazon. I'll endorse good old fashioned hardcopy print books, though. Those are great.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Digestive Advantage Muffins?

I've been writing for the past couple of years about functional foods, foods that have probiotics - beneficial bacteria - added to them in order to create supposedly healthier foods.

And I've been writing for years about Ganeden, the maker of Digestive Advantage, a probiotic pill taken by many of us who are lactose intolerant.

I suppose I should have foreseen that the two would intersect at some point.

Still, it took me by surprise when I saw this article by Mary Vanac of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

A company in Mayfield Heights is marketing a probiotic that might help the health trend already accepted in Europe and Asia catch on in America.

It's selling its healthy bacteria as a food ingredient -- one that unlike most other probiotics remains effective even when it's baked, boiled, frozen or squeezed.

The company, Ganeden Biotech, has teamed with two dozen food companies since January to incorporate its probiotic in everything from muffins to health bars to energy drinks -- even ice cream.

Main Street Gourmet in Akron recently began adding GanedenBC30 to the raisin bran muffins in its Isabella's Healthy Bakery line under the label Activate: Probiotic Enriched Muffins.

You can't buy these muffins in Ohio yet. But foods with the GanedenBC30 logo could start hitting the shelves of local grocery and drug stores by early next year. ...

That's where Ganeden may have a leg up on many of its competitors. The company's patented strain of Bacillus Coagulans -- GanedenBC30 -- generally survives processing and digestion, and is stable in items on store shelves for up to two years.

So instead of drinking a few ounces of probiotic-rich Yakult dairy beverage every morning like Japanese people do, Americans soon may be able to get their daily dose of probiotics in breakfast cereal.

Yes, the not being available yet in stores part is disappointing. I'll keep following the story and let you know when and where they do appear.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Arla Lactose-Free Yogurts

Arla, the British company that makes the Lactofree line of lactose-free milks, has added some new lactose-free yogurts to its product list.

A press release announced that:

The flavoured yoghurts are available in raspberry, strawberry and a natural variety, and have been developed for consumers that are lactose intolerant, the company said today (27 November).

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Good Intentions May Still Hide Allergens

I've posted twice this week on a major investigative report run by the Chicago Tribune, the original story in Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled and a pat-oneself-on-the-back press release, Enjoy Life Comments on Hidden Allergens.

Here's a self-congratulatory statement very much like that from Earth Life, this one from the renowned upscale grocery chain Whole Foods:

"Good manufacturing practices," the labels stated, were "used to segregate" potential allergens such as tree nuts, soy or milk.

They tried. Yet:
In 2007, a year after the "good manufacturing" label was put on the bars, a child with food allergies had a reaction after eating the candy, which contained tree nuts. Two recalls followed and the label was changed earlier this year.

That's from another piece of the multipart series, in which the Tribune details how difficult it is for any company not using its own private dedicated plants to make such a statement. Whole Foods relied on contractors to make its products, in this case a Swiss chocolate company. That company continued to make different products on the same line, a violation of the claims Whole Foods made.

Earth Life does use dedicated bakeries. Yet it must reply on suppliers for its ingredients. Those suppliers must guarantee their compliance with cross-contamination standards.

That sounds good and is, in fact, as reliable as reasonably possible. No company can both grow all its own ingredients, as well as bake, package, and ship the final products. There are always potential weak links in the chain.

The final line of the Tribune article reads:
Asked why such scrutiny did not catch fundamental problems at the Swiss candy factory, [Whole Foods' director of private brand development, Nona Evans] said, "It's a continual education."

It is. Companies get smarter and better all the time. Consumers know more about what to look for and what questions to ask. The number of children affected by cross-contamination continues to fall.

I'm sure that would be no consolation if it were your child who fell ill. All you as a parent can do is to be glad that the risks are getting smaller. And to ensure that you stay as watchful as need be and as informed as you must be.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Healthiest Airport Food

I'm not a big fan of the The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). They're a fanatical anti-milk and anti-animal-as-food organization.

Because they're militantly vegan, though, they can occasionally be of help to those who are looking for healthy dairy-free food, as long as you remember to read their findings through the lens of their bias.

They just published their eighth annual PCRM Airport Food Review, perfect timing for those about to embark on airline travel this holiday season. You can find the full report on this page. It's not very long.

During this season of increased air travel, where can a hungry traveler find a healthful meal? Nutritionists with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) surveyed meals in 15 of the nation’s busiest airports and found that 80 percent of airport restaurants now offer at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian option. ...

A restaurant was rated as healthful if it served at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free breakfast, lunch, or dinner option. Healthful options at airports covered in this report include the Mediterranean platter at La Tapenade Mediterranean Café at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the vegan stromboli at French Meadow Bakery & Café at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and the roasted veggie ciabatta at Brioche Dorée at Los Angeles International Airport.

(Note: Where menu items include cheese or other dairy products, to ensure a healthful meal, travelers should request that these meals be prepared dairy free.)

Here's the summary report on the top two airports, a tie, to show you what you might find if you check the rest.
1. (tie) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (95 percent): DFW increased its score by one point and remains in first place this year. Health-conscious travelers will find nearly 40 restaurants that offer at least one low-fat, zero-cholesterol meal. Healthful offerings include the vegan smoked tofu, broccoli, and mushroom burrito at 360 Gourmet Burrito, the portable portobello wrap (hold the feta) at UFood Grill, the Sonoma veggie wrap (minus the cheese) at Camille’s Sidewalk Café, and the guiltless black bean burger at Chili’s Too.

1. (tie) Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (95 percent): After two years in second place, Detroit increased its score by two points and tied with Dallas for first place. The addition of new low-fat menu items—like the vegetarian pita at National Coney Island Express—drives the Motor City into the number one spot. Zero-cholesterol items with an international flair include the tabouleh, hummus, and veggie burger at Online Café Bar and Grill, veggie and tofu rolls at Sora Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, and the fattoush (a salad made from vegetables and pita bread) or the veggie wrap at Waterworks Bar and Grill.

Anyone who flies and has tried to find reasonably healthy food at an airport knows that the choices are often limited, although far better today than in the past. The report gives scores for the previous years of the survey. As recently as 2001, four of the ten airports surveyed had scores of 50% or below.

This report seems like reasonable advice, which is why I'm passing it on despite the source.

Just a quick dig I can't resist slipping in. When you have two items tied for number one, what comes next? That's right, number three. Except for the geniuses at the PCRM. Chicago O'Hare ranked just below Dallas and Detroit. It's ranked number two.

Where's the slap your head smiley?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Enjoy Life Comments on Hidden Allergens

Boy, that didn't take long. Hardly did the big Chicago Tribune expose of hidden allergens I posted about yesterday hit the newsstands than Enjoy Life sent out a press release to proclaim how wonderfully careful they are.

According to [Scott Mandell, President, CEO and Founder of Chicago-based Enjoy Life Foods], that's why Enjoy Life Foods has invested in a dedicated nut- and gluten-free bakery, requires all ingredient suppliers to complete extensive cross-contamination statements, assigns a risk rating to all incoming ingredients based on suppliers' statements, and further tests specific ingredients to ensure strict allergen control standards are met. Additionally, all Enjoy Life products are certified gluten-free by the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO), a third-party certification group. The GFCO follows a 10 parts per million (ppm) standard for gluten, which is lower than the proposed FDA standard of 20 ppm.

Complete and accurate product labeling is also an extremely important safety factor for Enjoy Life Foods. "We know it's hard for people with dietary restrictions to find foods that they can safely eat. Food labels and allergen advisory warnings can be confusing and ingredient statements don't always contain all the information they need," Mandell says. "That's why we go out of our way to make sure Enjoy Life Foods' product labels are clear and provide the information our food-sensitive consumers need to make informed decisions about what they can and cannot eat."

That all sounds good, and I'm not denigrating Enjoy Life products in any way. I simply have a feeling that the CEOs of most of the companies affected by recalls could have written similar statements. Most reputable firms today try very hard to ensure that their products are not subject to costly, embarrassing, and public recalls. They happen anyway.

To keep an eye out for recalls, the government has a handy site,, that lists all products that the FDA and USDA have jurisdiction over. If you are allergic or are the parent of an allergic child, be sure to bookmark the page.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled

In the last few weeks Vegan Rella Cheddar Block, Wegmans Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce, and muffin tops from Seattle's Favorite Gourmet Cookies & Dessert Co. have all been recalled by the FDA because they turned out to contain undeclared milk products.

They're small pieces of a bigger problem. Many products marketed and targeted at children, including big names like Oreos, Pop-Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Jello-O and Campbell's SpaghettiOs, have been recalled for hidden allergens in recent years.

The Chicago Tribune did a major investigative piece on this issue, titled "Children at risk in food roulette." They found that an average of five products a week are recalled because of hidden allergens. And the government does not take action even against repeat offenders.

Nor do a significant number of parental complaints result in recalls:

The Tribune examined 260 complaints to the FDA since 2001 where people with known food allergies--many of them children who had to be treated at hospitals--reported a reaction from products they claimed were mislabeled. Yet just 7 percent resulted in recalls.

Even when authorities concluded a product was at fault, the regulatory wheels moved slowly. On average, it took 32 days to issue a recall.

The article is worth reading in full.

In addition:
To determine the full scope of the problem, the Tribune created an unprecedented computer database of 2,800 recalls related to food allergies over the last 10 years.

You can search the database by clicking here.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Amazake Brown Rice Drink

The SF Foodie column at reminded that I haven't written about Amazake, one of the oldest and most widely distributed rice-based milk alternatives.
Brown rice is a delight in the clutches of Emeryville's Grainaissance, which makes 14 different versions of its naturally sweetened, dairy-free and gluten-free Amazake Rice Shake.

Grainaissance, despite the labored pun, is a major player in the field.

Since 1979, we at Grainaissance have been dedicated to making great-tasting, nutritious products from brown rice. Starting with organic, whole-grain brown rice (we do not used milled rice), we add almonds, raisins, non-dutched cocoa, cinnamon and an abundance of other whole foods to create our distinctive flavors. We never use oils or animal products; we keep salt and even natural flavor concentrates to a minimum. Also, all of our products are certified kosher. We think eating should be fun, and we're proud to say that our products are not only healthy and delicious, but are entertaining as well! Our products stem from a long line of traditional Japanese foods, and we employ time-honored Japanese methods to produce them.

And Amazake comes in fifteen flavors.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Ecological Ain't the Same As Good for You

I found this bizarre press release today.

When leaders of the 21 economies that comprise the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum formally launch their annual meeting Saturday, their greatest temptation might well be "Divine Sin." The "Divine Sin" in question is actually a cocktail that Peruvian expert Eladio Espinoza has created from two products that Peru is most proud of: Pisco, a liquor and chirimoya, a type of custard apple.

APEC leaders were to be offered the treat at lunch and dinner.

"All its ingredients are ecological, with a low content of alcohol, sugars and lactose, so that they can be taken by people who suffer from intolerance to lactose or diabetes," Espinoza said.

Peru, whose prestige in gastronomy is on a remarkable rise, sees the APEC summit as a chance to further enhance its reputation.

First, notice the claim that it's low in lactose. It's nice that people are thinking of us. That's a huge change from earlier years. But for Pete's sake. This is a cocktail. It contains liquor and fruit. Of course it doesn't have lactose. Neither does a martini or a daiquiri or a margarita. Or a hurricane or a screwdriver or a Long Island Iced Tea.

It's true that some liqueurs - not liquors - contain real cream. Irish Cream in all its variations is the prime example. And some cocktails are made with liqueurs added. A screaming orgasm is made with kahlua, amaretto, vodka, and Irish Cream. You can even find mixed drinks - I hope that not even the most rabid Sex and the City fan would dare call them cocktails - that have ice cream at their base.

Creme, it needs to be said, is not real cream. Creme de cassis, Creme de Noyaux, Crème de cacao, Creme de violette, and Creme de Menthe all do not contain any real cream. I can't guarantee whether all concoctions named creme are truly cream free, though. The site lists abominations like Creme De Cachaca, made with Irish Cream; Creme de Cafe, made with light cream; and Ponche De Creme, made with condensed milk.

Even so, liquor is milk-free and fruit is milk-free. I'm not sure who you think you're enticing.

My other peeve is calling a Divine Sin ecological. Perhaps the word is the victim of a bad translation from the Spanish. But remember folks, we're talking about a cocktail here. Liquor and fruit. I'd drink it. I'm not condemning the concept of a cocktail, though I don't drink many. Ecological may be many things to many people, but you're simply perverting the notion when you apply the term to a cocktail. With fruit or pure Pesco.

And where did this bizarre perversion of the Earth movement appear?

On The Earth Times Online Newspaper. The Earth Times, a environmental legend that has for years preached about ecology, sustainability, the green movement, organic products, and all the things that might cause some to label them as archetypal treehuggers. Pushing ecological Peruvian cocktails doesn't seem to fit in their mission statement.

We all make compromises for our causes. Some are subtle; others are all too obvious. I don't raise my drink in salute.

UPDATE: I thought the original article was bizarre. The follow-up is ten times so.

As I was writing this posting, President George W. Bush was in Peru for the 2008 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Here's an official picture of him from the festivities sounding the event.

That's pisco that he's drinking.

An amusing coicindence except for the fact that pisco is an alcoholic beverage. This has caused a huge flurry by the punditry and in the blogosphere.
With the cares of office soon to be behind him, has George Bush started drinking again? The US President, who gave up alcohol 22 years ago, has been dogged by a recent spate of rumours that he has gone back on the sauce, and while attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Peruvian capital Lima at the weekend he was photographed downing a glass of Pisco Sour (pictured), a brandy-like alcoholic drink.

It could be that Bush was unaware that Pisco Sour was alcoholic, or that he merely took a sip so as not offend his hosts – the beverage is the country's national drink – but drink it he did.

Anyone who has sampled a Pisco Sour will know it needs to be approached with extreme caution. It was invented in the 1920s as a variation of the whiskey sour by an American expatriate called Victor V. ‘Gringo’ Morris at the Morris Bar in Lima, and packs quite a punch.

It can't be satire. Satire is obsolete before it gets written these days.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Casein Not in All Sodium

I received this email the other day.

Concerning pre-packaged luncheon meats. I was told, maybe incorrectly, that "salts or sodium can have hidden Casein in them." I can't find an answer so far on the internet. I hope you can help me.

Here is a list from one package: sodium phosphates, sodium ascorbate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, potassium lactate, sodium diacetate.

I replied:
The answer to your question is that casein salts will always be listed that way, as sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate or even, though rarely, potassium caseinate. The sodium part doesn't matter for dairy allergies. (It does if you have high blood pressure and need to avoid sodium, but that's a different issue.)

Caseinate will always be listed. And modern labeling laws require that any product that uses casein say it is a milk product or a milk derivative. Caseinate can't be hidden.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kosher Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

I wasn't familiar with the Boulevards brand of hot chocolate mixes, but that's what a press release is for.

Boulevards LLC announces availability of two new certified organic, kosher hot chocolate mixes: a dairy-free mix and a sugar-free/dairy-free mix. "Our delicious sweet-dark instant mix is now available to consumers in a dairy-free version. Plus we now have a smooth, chocolaty mix that is both sugar-free and dairy-free," says Boulevards founder Don Meyers.


Neither of the two new products contain milk powder, so they are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. The consumer can use fresh milk, soy milk, rice milk, or coffee to enjoy these new mixes. The sugar-free version uses the organic sweetener erythritol. This sweetener is found naturally in several kinds of food and is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. "Erythritol is much better than other sugar substitutes", says Don Meyers, "compared to the others there's very little risk of digestive problems."

On the Boulevards website I found descriptions of the two products.

Our dairy-free sweet-dark hot chocolate removes the milk from our original mix, providing more options for you and your family.

Enjoy the rich full flavor with milk, soy milk or rice milk. Add 2 tablespoons of mix to 8 oz hot milk.

This hot chocolate is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Certified organic and kosher.

10 servings per can.

Sugar-Free & Dairy-Free

Our sugar-free & dairy-free hot chocolate cuts out the sugar and calories. Lightly sweetened with organic erythritol (fermented glucose).

Enjoy the rich full flavor with milk, soy milk or rice milk. Add 1 tablespoon of mix to 8 oz hot milk.

This hot chocolate is vegetarian and vegan-friendly. Certified organic and kosher. Its also low in calories. Only 20 Calories per serving.

20 servings per can.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Better Lactose Makes Better Lactose-Free Milk

I've found that few people with lactose intolerance know much of the history of lactose intolerance. For example, except for those few who read every word of my book, Milk Is Not for Every Body, even the best-informed American doesn't know the name Maxilact, although Maxilact was the first lactase product to be put on the market.

Maxilact is still being made, though now by a company that took over the firm Gist-Brocades mentioned in my book, the Dutch food ingredients manufacturer DSM.

And they're still working to improve lactase, judging by this press release.

Maxilact LGX is the new, breakthrough pure lactase enzyme from DSM Food Specialties. Created to reduce the off notes that can develop at the end of a lactose free product’s shelf life, Maxilact LGX also guarantees an even higher quality and clean flavour throughout the product’s lifespan than any other lactase on the market today. The first ingredient of its kind to deliver these benefits, Maxilact LGX is a pure and consistent lactase which offers the potential to extend the shelf life of premium low lactose milk products.

The latest addition to the Maxilact range of neutral lactase preparations, Maxilact LGX is isolated from the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis. It hydrolyses lactose into two monosaccharides – glucose and galactose – and yields a naturally sweet, low lactose milk product. The product is developed in such a way that no detectable side activity is present to cause off flavour formation in lactose free milk. Using Maxilact LGX simply ensures an even cleaner taste – especially at the end of a product’s shelf life.

Ardy van Erp, Product Manager Dairy Enzymes, DSM Food Specialties, commented: "An increasingly broad consumer base is looking for low lactose and lactose-free products. Many people are adapting their diet with a view to improving their health and wellbeing. Individuals looking for ease of digestion and those with a lactose intolerance are embracing the low lactose trend – resulting in a growing market."

This sounds like very good news for those who drink lactose-free milks. Let's hope it's adopted by many milk processors soon.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Anti-Milk Moron

I found this article reprinted on News Blaze, whatever that might be.

It's an unfortunately standard food nonsense diatribe. Here's the nuttiest piece, from our point of view.

Ron McCormick, a native of Oregon, was raised on a 22,000-acre ranch. McCormick was used to eating what he calls "the all-American diet" - steaks, milk, cheese and bread. ...

"Milk is full of sugar and lactose from the cow. It's full of impurities and antibiotics. Babies who are breastfeed are in a much better situation because the mother's milk is in an alkaline state," said McCormick.

Sugar and lactose? No. There is only one sugar in cow's milk, just as there is only one sugar in mother's milk. And that's lactose. Sugar always means sucrose, at least on all ingredients lists in the U.S. There is no sucrose in any milk, unless it is added after the fact.

And mother's milk? Mother's milk has the highest lactose content of any known mammal's milk. If lactose in milk is bad for you, the absolute last thing you would want to do is recommend mother's milk.

If you have a stomach strong enough to read further in the article, which appears to be more of an infomercial, you'll find to no surprise at all that McCormick is pushing his own line of quack products.

Don't buy them. Ignore him and everything he says. Do it for your sake and your children's sakes.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yogen Früz Comes to Rochester - and Lots of Other Places

Yogen Früz may be the largest chain of yogurt franchises in the world, with over 1100 stores in 20 countries. And they're expanding like mad.

From their press release:

The Yogen Früz menu is comprised of its signature "Blend It" frozen yogurt offering a combination of low-fat, non-fat or no-sugar-added frozen yogurt with an extensive variety of flash-frozen fresh fruit custom blended for each customer. Yogen Früz also offers their Tart "Top It" soft serve frozen yogurt, a refreshing yogurt with the customers' choice of a wide range of delicious fresh fruit and dry toppings. Other menu selections include yogurt and non-dairy smoothies, as well as a variety of healthy additions and beverages. This contemporary menu design and packaging subtly reinforce the healthy snack brand positioning and point of difference.

A unique ingredient to all Yogen Früz low-fat and non-fat yogurt products as well as the dairy smoothies is that all are packed with Probiotic cultures. Probiotic cultures have been shown to promote a healthy digestive system, improve mineral absorption, fortify the immune system, manage lactose intolerance and even help lower cholesterol. Yogen Früz has more than 17 million live Probiotic cultures per gram compared to as few as 69,000 for other brands, making their great tasting healthy snack alternatives even healthier. In a further market innovation, Yogen Früz maintains an industry leadership position by proudly placing key nutritional information on its menu for everyone to see (calorie and fat content).

Where will you see these new stores?
Yogen Früz plans to open stores in Hawaii, Orange County, Los Angeles, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Upstate New York.

Did you catch that Upstate New York bit? For a rare change, Upstate New York means Rochester. Why do I care? I live here. I've been watching the revived yogurt craze from a distance, wistfully. And now I get to take part.

The first Yogen Früz store in the area will open in Eastview Mall on November 28. Plans are for 15 additional stores to be built in the area.

Fifteen? Fifteen new yogurt stores in Rochester? And 100 in upstate over the next five years? That's what the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Yogen Früz must think that it's the best and most addictive yogurt in the universe to support that many stores. Admittedly, the chain started in Canada and so they must know the part about the six-month long winters. I'm still flabbergasted.

Check back in five years to see how they do.

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