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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lactose On Labels - And Not

Here's an email I just received.

I read labels carefully since I am very sensitive to lactose. Is it possible that contents may be changed before the label is changed? Several times I've had the typical symptoms of L.I. in products that do not indicate the presence of any lactose-containing substances.

A whole pile of issues are compressed into this short email. Let me try to sort them out.

First, to answer the direct question about change: over the years I've seen documented reports of recipes being changed but the labels lagging behind. It happens but so seldom and sporadically that it's unlikely you've encountered it personally several times.

What does happen more frequently is that a batch of food accidentally gets cross-contaminated by exposure to potential allergens during processing or that a label is incorrectly rendered. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) compile these notices and make them available to the public. Their format is not the easiest, and I'd recommend that you look at the Kids with Food Allergies Alert page for an up-to-date and readable compilation.

Of course, those notices cover all eight of the most serious allergens: milk, peanuts, nuts, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Milk alerts occur only about once a month. Again, it would be rare for any one individual to consume a number of these very random products.

So that brings up the final issue. Digestive upsets have numerous causes. Even if you're lactose intolerant, other foods may cause problems for any number of reasons. If you notice a pattern in foods that normally don't contain lactose, try to determine what other food or ingredient or circumstance may be the real cause of your distress.

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