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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Milky Way Alliance" Yields LactoYIELD

Thank the Dutch. Dutch firm Gist-Brocades invented the process that made lactase drops and lactase pills commercially available. Now two more Dutch firms, the Chr. Hansen/Novozymes joint venture they call the "Milky Way Alliance," says they've invented a new way of ridding dairy of lactose.

In their press release, the details of the new process are revealed:

The Chr. Hansen/Novozymes strategic alliance which was formed in 2002 debuts a new solution marketed under the name LactoYIELD™. LactoYIELD™ converts lactose into lactobionic acid, LBA, in an enzymatic process. An advanced enzyme innovation with unique opportunities both inside and outside the food area.

"Jointly, Chr. Hansen and Novozymes have developed a process that enables industrial application of lactose oxidase, a member of the cellobiose oxidase enzyme class," explains Per Munk Nielsen, Senior Science Manager, Novozymes. "The proprietary enzyme and enzymatic process enable 100% conversion of lactose — of which the biggest cheese producers out there have a lot — into LBA. Until today LBA has been produced by costly non-enzymatic chemical reactions and primarily in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics areas."

Proof of concept
Treading new ground, the enzyme alliance has proof of concept within cheese production. "This new, proprietary process allows cost-effective manufacturing of large amounts of LBA from the whey stream in a cheese processing plant," explains Hans Christian Bejder, Marketing Director, Chr. Hansen. "LBA can be added as a dry matter into pizza cheese without influencing the properties of the cheese."

Lactobionic acid (LBA) has the chemical formula C12H22O12. Lactose has the chemical formula C12H22O11. They're both disaccharides, that is made of of two simpler sugars. Lactose is of course glucose and galactose; LBA is gluconic acid and galactose. Gluconic acid is a natural sugar found in fruit and honey.

A process that turns lactose into another similar sugar should be valuable for the dairy industry and maybe for consumers as well. No telling when we'll see the results in commercial products, but any time you can glibly throw around lactobionic acid in a post is an opportunity to be treasured.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Little Bay Baking Company

The Little Bay Baking Company is a baker of gluten-free and casein-free products.
Little Bay Baking Company was started with one simple idea - to produce a gluten free casein free line of products that provide celiacs and others with a gluten or wheat intolerance with foods that "taste like you remember".

I have been on the celiac gluten free diet since the spring of 1980 and have spent the last 28 years reinventing my family's favorite recipes so that I could cook once and we could all enjoy it. After attending a national celiac conference with my adult children and tasting many of the gluten free products, they encouraged me to put those recipes "in a bag and make them available to other celiacs". I am now pleased to share our family favorites with you in the form of baking mixes so that you can enjoy that just baked taste.

Since many of us also have sensitivities to lactose and casein, all of our products, when made according to the package directions, are free of casein and lactose. For those of you who do not have a dairy issue, regular milk can be used in place of rice milk and butter can be used in place of the dairy free margarine.

Little Bay Baking Company is a member of the Gluten Intolerance Group and the Celiac Sprue Association of America. We are proud to be a member of NH Made, the official statewide organization that promotes the quality, variety, and availability of New Hampshire products and services, products made with Yankee pride.

We moved into our new larger production facility in Dover New Hampshire in November 2008 and continue to produce our products in a dedicated gluten free dairy free environment.

You may have to live without gluten but you don't have to live without foods that "taste like you remember".

Helen Sanders
Little Bay Baking Company

They also have an interesting DVD:
GF Cooking from Scratch DVD
Gluten Free Cooking from Scratch is an easy to follow DVD. With tips and tricks for setting up a gluten free kitchen, GF Baking Mix recipe and 8 gluten free, casein free recipes like mini coffee cakes, chicken nuggets, flourless chocolate cake and more... . INCLUDES RECIPE CARDS
New Price - $15.95

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gelatissimo Frozen Dessert to Debut for Passover 2009

I try to cover kosher foods because there is a category of products called parve (sometimes spelled pareve) that are "neutral" foods, foods that contain neither meat nor milk.

Apparently some new ones will be introduced at a big food fair, Passover 2009, said The Gourmet Retailer.

A slew of new kosher product introductions -- many with a healthier, more upscale appeal -- are set to debut in time for Passover 2009, according to Menachem Lubinsky, editor of Kosher Today and co-producer of Kosherfest, the largest international kosher food and beverage trade show. Passover 2009 begins at sundown on April 8-April 16.

"Passover '09 will very much follow in the tradition of the last few holiday seasons where there were many new products introduced, including healthier and more upscale foods," said Lubinsky. "The notable exception will be that the industry is making an effort to produce items that offer more value, taking into consideration the large number of customers who have been adversely affected by the recession."

And in particular:
Organic, gluten- and lactose-free Gelatissimo frozen dessert

I can't find any additional information about this product, and I wonder whether it will still have the same name when it comes to market.

After all Gelatissimo is a major real gelato ice cream made in Australia and marketed throughout Oceania.

And there is a gelato store named Gelatissimo in New Canaan, CT. And a separate one in Washington D.C. and another in Encinitas, CA. Again, all serve real Italian-style gelato which is a real ice cream product.

Google is your friend.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Yugoslavian Lactose-Free Milk

Seems to be a boom in European products for the lactose intolerant. Following yesterday's discovery of a Dutch manufacturer of lactase capsules comes the announcement of a new lactose-free milk.

What looks to be a press release is brief but to the point.

Imlek has presented a new product in its portfolio, Moja Kravica lactose-free milk, for all persons with intolerance to milk sugar, i.e. lactose.

This easily digestible product of Imlek will enable all milk consumers to enjoy its taste and beneficial effects, free of discomfort caused by lactose in ordinary milk.

Moja Kravica lactose-free milk is rich with calcium, proteins, vitamins, and lactic acid, and in addition to a good taste, it is ideal for any time of a day and for all those with developed intolerance to lactose and people who take care of a healthy and balanced lifestyle and consumption of milk, as an important source of calcium.

Imlek the company is located in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Those familiar with the language can take a look at the company's website and tell me what exactly the crocodile superhero is promoting.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New European Maker of Lactase Products

Remko Hiemstra, the owner and founder, emailed me to let me know about DISOLUT® (DIetary SOLUTions), founded last July 2008.

He's lactose intolerant himself and so he created the firm knowing about the need for more lactase products in Europe. He's starting with DISOLACT® lactase capsules. In a few months he also plans to introduce DISOLACT®-drops, lactase drops.

For now the company only sells through the Internet and though some Dutch pharmacies. He hopes to increase the availability in the future.

The Dutch lactose intolerance site did a review of the product for those of you who speak Dutch.

He does have an English language site and you can order a free 3 capsule sample from that site.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Shabtai Gourmet Gluten-Free Bakery

Andrew Itzkowitz, of the Shabtai Gourmet Gluten-Free Bakery, let me know about his father's "amazing cakes & cookies that are gluten free, casein free, soy free, lactose free, dairy free and corn free, as well as certified Kosher Parve & Kosher for Passover."

He has been baking for about 30 years, and has perfected his take on All-American gluten-free desserts. Items such as Ring Tings, Brownie Bites and Devils Food Seven Layer cakes are all award winning and taste just like the type of junk food items one could purchase at a 7-Eleven or at any gas station in America. Our sweets have been compared to Little Debbie & Hostess cakes, the major difference being that all of his sweets are free of multiple allergens! Many who suffer from gluten allergies usually need to avoid other key ingredients as well.

We are a family owned and operated bakery based in Long Island, NY. My mother Cindy is President and founded the company in 2001. My father is the genius baker behind the gluten-free recipes. My younger brother Devin (age 10) attends sales meetings with my mom, most recently at a Wal-Mart corporate office in South Florida, and has a cake named after him - "Devintown Railroad Cake," because he loves trains. My sister Stephanie was the inspiration for Shabtai's Marzipan Sushi creation. Sweet Stephie's Samba Sushi won first place for best new Kosher for Passover & gluten free dessert at last year's Kosher-fest Convention! I have been working on sales and marketing, along with my mother.

You can find the Bakery's website at or at They say they give free shipping on all orders within the continental United States.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Lacky Award: Special Oscar Milk Edition

Since the biopic of gar rights activist Harvey Milk was released, you can't possibly imagine how many bad lactose intolerant puns I've have to endure.

So I'm going to help you.

Here are some of the worst that have appeared in newspapers by writers of little imagination across this once-great country of ours.

Lactose tolerant: this milk isn't sour

I think on Sunday fans of "Milk" are going to find out just how lactose intolerant Hollywood really is.

"Milk" -- To gain millions in advertising dollars, executives of struggling auto companies scheme to replace the traditional drink of a lactose-intolerant Indianapolis 500 winner with a Valvoline/STP mixture. Rating: One dipstick and one cookie.

I found I was lactose intolerant to this cinematic cheese!

ON PAPER, Milk sounds like a low-fat proposition. ... Surely the film should come with a product description that says watery, thin, but good for our collective constitution. ... Milk is the full-cream deal

And the winner of the Lacky Award goes to:

As with so many leaders, Milk’s legacy becomes immortalized when he faces the lactose intolerant, Twinkie chomping Dan White (Josh Brolin).

Ron and Leigh Martel, movie reviewers for The Friday Flyer, win the coveted award for embedding the overused pun in a sentence of such utter incoherence that Strunk & White gave it two thumbs down.

Thanks, Ron and Leigh. We're not sorry you couldn't be here for the ceremony.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Allergy Safe Family Food

Allergies are a worldwide problem. According to this Reuters article, Australia has the highest incidence of food allergies, with 5% of children suffering from food allergies.

As always, a concerned parent took the lead in developing a range of foods her children could eat.

A registered nurse and midwife, [Suzanna] Paxton started collecting recipes from friends and family after her son and daughter were found to be allergic to 7 of the 8 foods that cause problems: nuts, eggs, milk, soy, sesame seeds, wheat, fish and shellfish.

Paxson wrote a 185-recipe cookbook, Allergy Safe Family Food. She designed it to make substitutions simple.
"My goal has always been to put together a meal that's good for my family, that doesn't cost the earth, that looks good, tastes good, is easy to prepare and is safe. And once you've been diagnosed by a doctor and know what you're allergic too, there are a range of substitutes and also ways of getting around it. Every recipe is coded, so you quickly see if it contains something you're allergic to, and also there is a shopping guide and information about anaphylaxis. I wanted to make information easily accessible."

Here's the book's page from the publisher, HarperCollins Australia.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Most People Need Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements

Here's a phrase that the quack supplement industry hates: "Your body doesn't absorb extra vitamins. All you get from taking vitamin supplements is expensive urine." There are many web pages devoted to "debunking" this as a myth. What none of them bother to mention was that the phrase came about to combat the supplement quacks who were pushing megadoses of vitamins as "cures" for all what ails ya. They were truly ripoffs.

After the megadose crazy faded, the antioxidant fad began. Large doses of Vitamins A and E were supposed to protect from heart disease and cancer. Except that they don't.

You do need some vitamins, of course. Getting the RDA of all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is essential. A good diet would provide those, if only more Americans had good diet habits. Since most don't an ordinary multi-vitamin pill couldn't hurt.

Are there any supplements you should take? Yes. As I've posted many times, you probably aren't getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Dr. Marc Siegel backs me up on this in an article from Fox News.

Vitamin D
A lack of vitamin D is associated with heart disease, muscle problems, a loss of mental acuity and fertility problems, Siegel said.

“Everybody should consider taking a vitamin D supplement,” Siegel said. “You need at least 400 international units per day. You should have your doctor check your levels (through a blood test).”

Siegel said proton pump inhibitors (medicines like Nexium or Protonix), which treat acid reflux symptoms, may block the body's absorption of vitamins B12 and D, so anyone on those medicines should have their levels checked regularly. ...

You should take 500 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day, especially if you are a post-menopausal female, Siegel said. Calcium is essential for keeping bones strong and preventing them from breaking.

Women should continue to get their calcium from outside sources, even if they are taking a supplement, Siegel said.

Strict vegans may be at risk for low levels of vitamin B12 so that's one additional supplement worth taking by them.

You can find additional confirmation of the vitamin myth in Tara Parker-Pope's article, Vitamin Pills: A False Hope? in The New York Times.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lactose-Free Milk Lasts Longer

Lactose-free milk is actual real cow's milk, exactly like regular milk in every way. Except one. Maybe two.

First, of course, lactose-free milk is lactose-free. Chemically and nutritionally, that's not a big difference. The lactase enzyme is used to break down - digest - the complex sugar lactose into the simple sugars galactose and glucose. That makes the resulting milk slightly sweeter. It's an oddity of sugar chemistry that both components of lactose are sweeter individually than when combined. Everything else about the milk stays the same.

Like almost all other commercially-available milks in the U.S. lactose-free milk is both homogenized and pasteurized. Homogenization breaks down the fat globules in milk and disperses them so that they don't separate and float up to the top. In the old days, the fat - in the form of cream - could be skimmed off the top of milk. That left the rest of the milk with uneven and constantly changing amounts of fat. People preferred milk with a set and regulated amount of fat, so homogenized milk is standard. Pasteurization is also standard. Indeed, mandated by law. Pasteurization kills the microorganisms that can make you sick from milk, and not lactose intolerant sick but deadly ill sick.

There are a number of types of pasteurization. The McClatchy newspaper syndicate had a column on milk that covers some of these types.

Q: What's the difference between milk that expires in 7 to 10 days and milk like Lactaid that lasts for more than a month?

A: First, remember that the date on the milk isn't an expiration date, it's a sell-by date. The store has to sell it or pull it by that date.

That doesn't mean you can't continue to use the milk. Milk is vulnerable to very slight temperature variations, always a problem in home refrigerators, which may not stay below 40 degrees or where the door may be opened and closed constantly.

But as long as your milk is kept cold in a container that blocks light, it usually will keep past the date.

The difference in the sell-by date on milk products is in how they were pasteurized.

In addition to regular pasteurization, where milk is heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds to kill bacteria, there is low-heat pasteurization -- 145 to 150 degrees for 30 minutes -- and ultra-heat, in which the milk is heated to as high as 250 degrees for less than a second.

Ultra-high heat is used for many specialty milk products, such as lactose-free milk and even some certified-organic milks, to extend their shelf life.

Those products are usually transported longer distances or kept longer before they're sold.

The simple truth is that lactose-free milk sells in tiny quantities compared to regular milk. And the average consumer of lactose-free milk uses much less than the many families with children that go through gallons of the regular milk every milk. So fewer people buy lactose-free milk less often. That's powerful incentive to make milk that keeps for as long as possible. The ultra-pasteurization process can make tiny changes to the taste of the milk that some people notice, though most don't. There should be absolutely no difference in any nutritional value, though.

Some regular milk also comes ultra-pasteurized, including some other types of specialty milks and also so-called "shelf stable" milk that needs no refrigeration. Ultra-pasteurized milk is also much more common in Europe, which is why many tourists find the taste of milk different there.

You can do anything with ultra-pasteurized milk that you can with regular milk. And in comes in all forms, whole, 2%, 1%, fat free, chocolate, fortified, flavored. It just lasts longer. And that's a good thing.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Low Vitamin D Levels in Arab-American Women

Everybody needs more Vitamin D. Some groups are particularly at risk. The elderly and those who live in northern climates often don't get sufficiently sun, which helps create vitamin D. Others, like African Americans, don't get enough calcium because their lactose-intolerance lowers the amount of dairy they drink.

So what if you don't get much sun and don't drink much dairy? That's the plight of many Arab-American women. The largest concentration of Arab Americans is in Michigan, a northern state. Researchers there compared women who wore lighter and more revealing western-style clothing to those who wore the traditional skin-concealing garb. Both groups have serious vitamin D deficiencies, but the those wearing traditional dress have only half the vitamin D levels of the other women according to a study released by Henry Ford Hospital researchers.

Medical News Today carried their press release.

Researchers found that all 87 women involved in a small study showed vitamin D levels averaging 8.5 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) for those who wore western dress to 4 ng/mL for those who wore the hijab, modest dress with a headscarf. A healthy vitamin D level is 30 ng/mL or higher.

Also, the women consumed little dietary sources of vitamin D. Forty-seven women reported drinking any milk on a weekly basis, but the amount they consume isn't significant enough to boost their vitamin D levels, researchers say. ...

"When people live where the weather is colder and they are more covered with clothing, they depend on their diet for their vitamin D," Dr. Hobbs says. "Unfortunately, most food with the exception of oily fish and vitamin D fortified milk has very little vitamin D. The women in our study drank very little milk, fortified orange juice and had decreased sun exposure because of their dress."

Vitamin D supplements would help. So would getting more sun. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the easiest problems to alleviate. All it needs is more publicity.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Are Natural Flavors Milk?

Here's a question I used to get much more frequently before the labeling laws got changed in 2006. It's one that probably still puzzles a lot of people though.

If an ingredient list for popcorn, specifically Pop Secret homestyle popcorn, contains "natural and artificial flavor" is it possible that those unidentified "flavors" contain dairy? If so, aren't there laws against non-disclosure of allergy information?

I responded:
It's possible, but as you suspect it would be illegal under current labeling laws. If milk is present in any ingredient, the ingredients list must say so and an additional warning of the presence of milk, or any other of the eight major allergens, must be attached.

So I doubt if any manufacturer today uses milk in its generic ingredients. In addition, the amount of lactose that would be present even if the label said milk would be so small that it's highly unlikely to affect you.

The question came from someone who suspected an LI reaction, so that's how I answered it. The small amount of unlabeled dairy might be enough to trigger an allergic reaction in someone very sensitive, though. The possibility of allergic reactions to hidden ingredients is exactly what triggered the change in the labeling laws. While still not perfect, they are far better in the U.S. than they have ever been in the past.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Right to Breastfeed Act

Wisconsin could soon become the forty-second state to legalize breastfeeding in public. State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, and Rep. Sheldon Wasserman, D-Milwaukee, authored "The Right to Breastfeed Act" after being contacted by a supporting constituent who had a negative experience while breastfeeding in public in a shopping mall.

An article by Julie Sherman on the site titled Legislation Proposed to Protect a Woman's Right to Breastfeed in Public gave details:

This law, should the bill pass, will protect a mother's right to feed her infant anywhere, and will include punishment for those who choose to harass or discriminate against that right. "If a person was harassing a woman who was breastfeeding, she now - if this bill passes - would have a legal right to complain and that individual would be arrested and fined," Risser said. If found in violation of this law, the punishment would be a $200 fine.

This particular bill is modeled after the laws in 30 states, and seem long overdue. "Babies deserve the best nutrition they can get, anytime or anywhere they want it." said co-author Wasserman. I hope few will disagree with that.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

LI Celebrity Alert: Steven Pinker

It feels great to write about a celebrity who is also a scientist. There are so few of those around.

But Steven Pinker is pretty close to a bona fide celebrity. He's written five books for a general audience, The Language Instinct (1994), How the Mind Works (1997), Words and Rules (2000), The Blank Slate (2002), and The Stuff of Thought (2007). And he has the best scientist hair since Einstein.

He was a guest on The Colbert Report this week to talk about how he had his full genome read and all the genetic traits and tendencies that revealed. One of them was that he was lactose intolerant.

Watch the whole interview by clicking here.

A bit of searching found that he wrote about this in a very long essay in the New York Times Magazine. There he calls the appearance of the gene for lactose intolerance a "wrong prediction" since he tolerates ice cream just fine. And he also has the gene for a high risk of baldness.

That's the good news for those of you who get nervous thinking about what's hidden inside your own personal genome. You are not your genes. They guide but they don't rule.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Kosher Vegan Chocolate

When I run across two separate and totally independent articles coming out the same day both praising the same chocolate bars, I take it as a sign. Of course, a headline that reads Best frickin’ chocolate on the planet is a pretty good sign too.

Taylor Eason was the one who said this. Since he's not talking about the super-premium Swiss or Belgium chocolate that easily available these days he's probably talking through his hat, but hey, how many of those are kosher and vegan?

I’ve spent easily hundreds of dollars - and about two years of effort - finding the best dark heaven and uncovered it, not at some gourmet, hoity-toity place but at grocery stores in Tampa. The winner is:

Endangered Species Supreme Dark Chocolate… the one with the sad looking chimpanzee on the package. At 72 percent cocoa content, it's elegant and creamy and tastes like homemade bittersweet cocoa pudding. It coats the tongue, melting in your mouth (but also in your hands if you dilly-dally), leaving a slightly sweet yet bitter residue that keeps on giving like a well-structured wine.

Best of all, it's enjoyment relatively without guilt. Their website says:

"This 3oz. dark chocolate bar is made with all-natural, shade-grown, ethically traded supreme dark chocolate… The chimpanzee artwork from Judi Rideout is printed on recycled paper. The chocolate is ethically or fair traded guaranteeing the workers fair wages and humane working conditions. This product is also certified Kosher by Orthodox Union. On the inside of the label you can learn about the plight of the chimpanzee as well as additional information on Endangered Species Chocolate’s core value, Reverence for Life, conservation tips and coupons for other Endangered Species Chocolate products."

That website also notes that it's vegan and gluten-free.

Lisa Snyder of the Ventura County Reporter had similar praise in an article titled More than just a Valentine indulgence -- chocolate can be good for you.
I am partial to the Endangered Species line of chocolate bars, which are fair trade, mostly organic, and 10 percent of the net profits help support species, habitat and humanity. Try the organic smooth dark chocolate with the Karner blue butterfly on the outside of the wrapper, which is 70 percent cocoa, vegan and kosher.

There you are. Encomiums from coast to coast. What more can you ask for?

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

I've Got a Loverly Bunch O' Coconuts

The dairy-free world has gone coconut crazy. No sooner than I reported the fifth example of a coconut-milk based dairy alternative than The New York Times reporter Melissa Clark gives a recipe for making a rich, creamy hot chocolate at home using coconut milk. Here's her original article in case you want to read about what not to do.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Detox, Shmeetox

If you need something a bit lighter to tamp down your anger from yesterday's junk science post, I found it in a Time magazine article by Alice Park, Detox, Shmeetox.

The subject is still pseudoscientific nonsense designed to do nothing to your body except to make your wallet lighter. But Park has the right idea. Most of the time the proper medicine to use on the woo-woos and nutcases is ridicule.

Those commercials you see for foot pads that suck toxins out of your body?

But it turns out that detoxing does very little de-anything. The brown color on those foot pads? That comes from chemicals in the pads that change color whenever they get wet--even if the moisture comes from something as toxin-free as distilled water. "There is no science behind these detoxification services," says Dr. Christine Laine, deputy editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Says Dr. Bennett Roth, chief of gastroenterology at UCLA: "This is the 2009 version of the snake-oil salesman."

Colon cleansing? Crap, and not the good kind. Oh yeah, and a badly done colonic can "result in punctures in the intestinal wall."

Is there any science at all behind this nonsense? None. If you catch them off guard on a good day, they'll admit it themselves.
Even detox practitioners acknowledge that there is little evidence of the effectiveness of their work. "We would love to have that kind of good research, but that takes time and money, " says Mark Toomey, director of the Raj spa in Fairfield, Iowa, which offers cleansing oil-based massages, enemas and diets.

It's snake oil. Ridicule them off the face of the earth. When the gullible suggest it to you laugh in their faces. Wave around the money you save by not giving it to the quacks.

Save your anger for the quacks who misuse science to scare parents. And kill children.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Junk Science Exposed Too Late for Some

The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) triple vaccine does not cause autism.

That's not a terribly original or controversial statement. The consensus of virtually all mainstream doctors was that vaccination was critical for children and that no link could be found between MMR and autism.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) said so as far back in 2001 when they published AAP panel finds no link between ASD, MMR vaccine.

The report concludes, "The available evidence does not support the hypothesis that MMR vaccine causes autism or associated disorders or IBD" (Pediatrics. 2001;107:e84). It also says pediatricians need to work with families to ensure children are protected from these preventable diseases.

"Pediatricians should feel comfortable using MMR vaccine and recommending it for their patients," said Neal A. Halsey, M.D., FAAP, co-chair of the panel that wrote the 64-page report.

With all the available medical evidence om one side, you wouldn't think this would become a major issue. Yet it's not merely major but tragic.

It all stems from an article in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet.

Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis,
and pervasive developmental disorder in children
A J Wakefield, S H Murch, A Anthony, J Linnell, D M Casson, M Malik, M Berelowitz, A P Dhillon,
M A Thomson, P Harvey, A Valentine, S E Davies, J A Walker-Smith
The Lancet, Volume 351, Number 9103 28 February 1998

Background We investigated a consecutive series of children with chronic enterocolitis and regressive developmental disorder.

Methods 12 children (mean age 6 years [range 3-10], 11 boys) were referred to a paediatric gastroenterology unit with a history of normal development followed by loss of acquired skills, including language, together with diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Children underwent gastroenterological, neurological, and developmental assessment and review of developmental records. Ileocolonoscopy and biopsy sampling, magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and lumbar puncture were done under sedation. Barium follow-through radiography was done where possible. Biochemical, haematological, and immunological profiles were examined.

Findings Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another. All 12 children had intestinal abnormalities, ranging from lymphoid nodular hyperplasia to aphthoid ulceration. Histology showed patchy chronic inflammation in the colon in 11 children and reactive ileal lymphoid hyperplasia in seven, but no granulomas. Behavioural disorders included autism (nine), disintegrative psychosis (one), and possible postviral or vaccinal encephalitis (two). There were no focal neurological abnormalities and MRI and EEG tests were normal. Abnormal laboratory results were significantly raised urinary methylmalonic acid compared with age-matched controls (p=0·003), low haemoglobin in four children, and a low serum IgA in four children.

Interpretation We identified associated gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression in a group of previously normal children, which was generally associated in time with possible environmental triggers.

We describe a pattern of colitis and ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia in children with developmental disorders. Intestinal and behavioural pathologies may have occurred together by chance, reflecting a selection bias in a self-referred group; however, the uniformity of the intestinal pathological changes and the fact that previous studies have found intestinal dysfunction in children with autistic-spectrum disorders, suggests that the connection is real and reflects a unique disease process.

We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.

If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there is a change in incidence or a link with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

Doesn't sound like much, does it? A study of a mere dozen children. Carefully worded findings. No evidence of a connection. More study is needed.

Yet, this study by itself caused the hysteria over vaccination over the past decade. Even though no link was made between MMR and autism, use of the MMR vaccine declined sharply, especially in Britain, and even the single disease vaccines that showed no connection whatsoever dropped in popularity.

The result is predictable and inevitable. Children died.
After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire "herd immunity" from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated.

Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.

That's from an article by Brian Ross of The Times of London. His actual accusations are much worse than causing hysteria. He says that the original article was fraudulent.
It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

To be fair, here is a .pdf of Dr. Wakefield's response.

Wakefield has been practically elevated into a god by the fringe nutgroups that regularly attack all mainstream medicine. The leader of the nut groups is Age of Autism, who awarded Wakefield their first, and I believe only, Galileo Award as a persecuted Man of Science. You won't be too surprised that autism diet-fad activist Jenny McCarthy and her husband Jim Carrey were Age of Autism's 2008 Couple of the Year.

The fact that many autism activists advocate a casein-free, gluten-free diet for their children, despite the lack of any solid medical evidence for its effectiveness, gives me the tie to write about this autism junk science. In truth, I would have written about it anyway. It displays, in unmistakable, deadly terms, the dangers of junk science, pseudoscience, and the war against mainsteam science that I have to write about all too often.

My lessons are simple. Science and medicine are consensus disciplines. One paper - especially a paper with a small number of subjects, without double-blind testing, without confirmation - is not science. Even if it makes newspaper headlines, one paper means nothing by itself. That's true for all science, all medicine, all nutrition. In a few, rare instances a huge, multi-year, carefully monitored study may reveal a danger that is so severe that you need to change your life in response. An after-the-fact study of a dozen people that states in so many words that no link was made is not one of these instances.

Wakefield was not ignored, or ridiculed, or prosecuted or persecuted by other doctors. The medical community checked out his claim and found there was nothing to it. That should have buried his work, like a thousand other preliminary articles that never get confirmation. The British government and its medical arms, along with the British press, apparently botched the response. The American press hasn't been much better. They reported the controversy rather than the science.

That's not good enough. Controversy sells, but conspiracies of the entire medical community don't exist. (The conspiracies are usually on the other side. Wakefield has been accused of taking large sums of money from lawyers who wanted to sue the vaccine manufacturers.)

The medical community is not always right. There are huge amounts we don't know yet. Those daring mavericks and loners who are opposed to the consensus? They're almost always wrong. They're almost always out to take your money. Some of them are real medical doctors. More have no expertise at all except for their ability to scare you and fool you.

This is why I do this blog. I hope that by reading it you can look at the fraudsters and tell them to go to hell at first sight, before they can do their damage.

Children are dying of measles in the U.K. They are dying because of ignorance and fear. While cases of measles have shown a slight rise in the U.S. because of parents not vaccinating their children, deaths are still rare. Worldwide, however, measles is still deadly, killing an estimated 197,000 children in 2007. Massive as that number is, it's still a 74% decline from 2000. Why? More vaccinations. Measles vaccinations worldwide pushed over 80% in 2007. That's right. There are now more parents vaccinations their children in the third world than in Britain.

The junk science brigade is trying to turn Britain into a third world country. Maybe now they have less chance to succeed. Let's hope more children don't have to die to prove them wrong.

UPDATE: News broke today that U.S. courts will deny accusations that the MMR vaccine caused autism.
A special U.S. court ruled against three families on Thursday who claimed vaccines caused their children's autism.

The Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding ruled against the parents of Michelle Cedillo, Colten Snyder and William Yates Hazlehurst, who had claimed that a measles, mumps and rubella vaccines had combined with other vaccine ingredients to damage the three children.

"I conclude that the petitioners have not demonstrated that they are entitled to an award on Michelle's behalf," Special Master George Hastings, a former tax claims expert at the Department of Justice, wrote in the Cedillo ruling.

They also declared that the vaccines with the mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal did not cause autism symptms.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Temporary Lactose Intolerance

Few people realize that writers seldom get to choose their own titles for their work. That's especially true for newspaper and magazine writers. They never have any idea how their articles will wind up formatted on the printed page, so editors, not writers, have to create headlines that fit the appropriate space.

Even though space is not a problem on the Internet, this old habit is too ingrained to be broken. So when you see a particularly stupid or obvious headline, don't blame the poor writer. He or she is probably seeing it for the first time when you do.

I say this because of one of the stupidest headlines I've ever seen, a headline irritatingly idiotic because it may prevent you from reading what is really a good article on a subject of importance and interest.

Lactose intolerance symptoms not always present from birth.

Well, duh. In fact, lactose intolerance are virtually never, ever, ever seen at birth. As I recently explained, what's known as Congenital LI is exceptionally rare. Although doctors are discovering a few more cases of it, it probably happens in less than one in 100,000,000 births. Most doctors will never see a case in their lifetimes.

What doctors do see, and what parents do need to watch out for, is what is known as Secondary or Temporary LI. Temporary is the better name for it, because it's usually caused by a simple and normal gastrointestinal problem that knocks out the lactase-making ability of the intestines. This is easy to do in children, but fortunately easy to recover from. Once the intestines heal, which takes a few weeks, the child can go back to drinking milk.

Dr. Helen Minciotti, the columnist stuck with that appalling headline, explains all this fairly well in her article. Go read it. Then explain it to the editor.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Organic Food Bar -- ONE

The new product Organic Food Bar -- ONE is "a bar more delicious than a morning muffin and loaded with beneficial probiotics to boost the immune system and promote good digestive health with ten times the active cultures of yogurt." Wow. That's prose so tasty it must have been baked up in a press release.

OK, I'll bite. The result seems chewy enough to serve to you.

Organic Food Bar -- ONE products are 100% certified organic and dairy- free and contain no preservatives, trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, refined sugars or Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). ...

Organic Food Bar -- ONE comes in three varieties: Blueberry Muffin Crunch, Raspberry Muffin Crunch and Chocolate Macaroon Crunch.

Organic Food Bar -- ONE Chocolate Macaroon Crunch contains a special component: Probiotics, or "good bacteria," improve the balance of one's intestinal microflora, which has been shown to promote digestive health and boost immunity. Organic Food Bar -- ONE Chocolate Macaroon Crunch contains ten times the active cultures of yogurt.
Organic Food Bar -- ONE will retail for $0.99-cents and will be available in your favorite health, grocery, convenience and drug stores nationally beginning March, 2009. Pre-orders are available by calling (800) 246-4685 or online at:

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Katz Gluten-Free Is Dairy-Free

All sorts of interesting tidbits in this article by Lisa Kelvin Tuttle in the The Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

She attended the Jewish Food and Community Expo, in Philly of course, and reported on the vendors exhibiting there. I always take note of new kosher foods. Kosher has the concept of Pareve (or parve) foods, foods that are neutral in that they contain neither milk nor meat. Pareve foods are closely regulated and are both vegan and dairy-free.

And, possibly, also gluten-free, as in the following:

For those who love baked goodies but can not tolerate the gluten found in most types of flour, Katz Gluten Free has come to the rescue. Unlike many of the gluten-free products on the market these days, Katz really does live up to its motto, "Bringing a New Dimension of Taste to Gluten Free," believing gluten-free should not be taste free. Katz's booth in the vendor area gave visitors a chance to sample several varieties of cookies, challah, and cakes. I found each one to be moist and delicious, with a texture and "mouth feel" just like wheat-based pastry. To say the least, I was greatly impressed! Katz Gluten Free, based in Monroe New York, is the proud winner of the "Best Baked Goods" Award in the Breads, Grains and Cereals category at the prestigious Kosherfest '08 New Products Competition held in New York City. In addition to challah, whole wheat and white bread, sandwich rolls, cakes, cookies, muffins, rugelach and coffee cake strips, Katz Gluten Free also makes farfel, kishka kugel, pizza crust, and breadcrumbs. All certified Gluten-Free products are dairy free and have OU kosher certification.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

KōV Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert

Who's the hottest person in the entire food business? Some anonymous food chemist who figured out a process for turning coconut milk into a non-dairy base is my guess.

Consider. Within the past year I've posted about Sid Wiggy's Coconut Creations (sweetened with agave), Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss (sweetened with agave), Turtle Mountain's So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and Purely Decadent coconut milk frozen dessert (sweetened with agave), and Stogo's vegan ice cream alternative (sweetened with agave).

Coincidence? Four in one year? All of them sweetened with agave? I don't think so. I mean, how many people even know what agave is? (It's the juice of a Mexican cactus, a form of fructose sugar called inulin.) I guarantee that some chemist figured out the combination of coconut and agave and has been peddling the rights all over the country.

Four? Let's make that five. My latest find is KōV Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert. It uses a cococut milk base and it's sweetened with agave. That's less coincidental than getting a straight flush in poker.

Our delicious and creamy non-dairy frozen dessert is made from all natural ingredients like coconut milk and agave. Flavored with fresh ginger root, ground vanilla, fair trade cocoa powder and pure peppermint extract, KōV [pronounced cove, and standing for kosher, organic, and vegan] delights the taste buds. Even better, KōV is vegan, kosher, has fewer calories, carbs, and a lower glycemic index than ice cream and other non-dairy frozen desserts.

Like Sid Wiggy's and Stogo's, KōV is another local product, found in stores in and around Philadelphia. They plan to introduce more products in the future.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Nuttelex: Australian Dairy-Free Margarine

I regularly get emails from various outposts around the world imploring me for information about local lactose-free products. Even with the whole Internet in front of me, I come across that information all too rarely.

I happened to stumble upon an Australian product new to me, however, so I'm displaying it here in hopes that it may be new to some of you in Australia as well.

The product's name is Nuttelex, a vegetable oil margarine and butter alternative. It's not exactly new. In fact, it's been around for 75 years. (I warned you I was a bit behind, didn't I?) Despite the name there are no nuts in Nuttelex. It's strictly vegetable oils with a bit of salt and water, plus the usual stuff needed to make a commercial product. They make it five flavors, or flavours: Original, Lite, Olive, Kosher, and Pulse. Pulse is the only variety that contains soy. All are gluten-free and vegan.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blood Tests Overdiagnose Allergies

Tara Parker-Pope's [corrected name] column in today's New York Times makes a point that every parent of an allergic child - or possibly allergic child - should read.

The blood tests that many parents are turning to as an easier and faster diagnostic for food allergies than the old skin prick tests aren't reliable. They identify many children as being allergic when they really aren't. These are known as false positives.

A 2007 issue of The Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology reported on research at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, finding that blood allergy tests could both under- and overestimate the body’s immune response. A 2003 report in Pediatrics said a positive result on a blood allergy test correlated with a real-world food allergy in fewer than half the cases.

“The only true test of whether you’re allergic to a food or not is whether you can eat it and not react to it,” said Dr. David Fleischer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at National Jewish Health. ...

Blood tests may be unreliable because they fail to distinguish between similar proteins in different foods. A child who is allergic to peanuts, for instance, might test positive for allergies to soy, green beans, peas and kidney beans. Children with milk allergies may test positive for beef allergy.

Nobody is saying that the blood test shouldn't be used. Instead, it should be used as a first method of screening for allergies. A quick, easy test that shows up negative means that your child is spared longer or more invasive tests.

However, further testing is necessary if a number of allergies are detected. Usually this testing involves food challenges. Foods that have been removed from the child's diet because of a positive result are put back into the diet, carefully and in small quantities, to see if a reaction occurs. Reactions to actual food are the best evidence of an actual allergy. Remember that very young allergic children often outgrow allergies to milk as well as to eggs, soy and wheat.

Reintroducing food should only be done under the supervision of a doctor. If the child remains allergic a severe reaction could occur and doctors can control this.

The risks of a serious allergic reaction are real. However, so are the risks of taking children off of common foods unnecessarily. Cases of malnutrition have been reported from overly restricted diets. And the chances of a reaction when the food is reintroduced - deliberately or accidentally - are increased.

Allergies are increasingly widespread. That also means that some parents are assuming allergies where they don't exist, creating a vicious cycle. Doublecheck all positive results from testing, especially from blood tests. And make sure they are real tests from the best trained doctors. There are too many quacks preying on peoples' fears to take any chances with your child's health.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Chocolate Peanut-Butter Lactose-Free Shake

I love it when readers send in lactose-free recipes. I love sharing them just as much. If you have a recipe you've tried and loved, please send it to and mark it as something that I can post here on Planet Lactose.

The following comes from Marian.

Here’s my recipe for my favorite dessert: 1 cup of lactose free skim milk, a couple of scoops of lactose free vanilla ice cream, a scoop of chocolate sorbet, chocolate syrup to taste and a heavy teaspoon of peanut butter. Blend and enjoy.

The chocolate sorbet is really an interesting touch. Thanks, Marian!

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