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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Heather Mills Buys Vegan Foodmaker

What is Heather Mills doing with her divorce money? Good things, so stop the jokes right now.

A press release told the world that Mills acquired the Redwood Wholefood Company, award-winning producer of natural plant-based, animal-free foods.

Recently ranked highest in the Ethical Company Organisation’s list of vegetarian foods suppliers for the third year running with an overall score of 95%, Redwood produces more than 50 different animal-free foods under the Cheatin’, VegiDeli and Cheezly brand names at its headquarters in Corby.

Among the many foods produced by the firm are Cheatin’ ‘meats’ in ‘bacon’, ‘chicken’ and ‘beef’ varieties, meat-free ‘roasts’, pâtés, gourmet burgers, ready-to-eat sausages, fish-style fingers and dairy-free ‘cheese’.

Because everything in its range is totally free from animal ingredients and derivatives as well as cholesterol, lactose, hydrogenated fats and GMOs, Redwood foods are ideal for vegetarians, vegans and anyone looking for a healthier and more ethical lifestyle.

The Cheezly soy cheese line and the Fabulous Fudge Factory dairy-free fudge may be most familiar to lactose intolerants. Because I've mentioned them both before in Cheezly "Super-Melting" Soy Cheese and Fabulous Fudge Factory Dairy-Free Confectionery. I'm so ahead of my time. And go, Heather.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is Chocolate to Be Avoided?

Chocolate. How do you answer a question about chocolate without getting so distracted that you forget the subject? (I make sure that I don't have any chocolate anywhere in my office at any time. Writing is hard enough without thinking about nibbling.)

That's a lead-in to one of the most horrifying questions I've ever received.

If a person is lactose intolerant, does that mean they should not eat chocolate? What about things like chocolate cake, cupcakes, and candy?

Chocolate is a subject that people write whole books about, long, loving books with lots of recipes and pictures of concoctions that would melt the teeth off the whole Osmond family. Nope, I'm getting distracted again. Let's concentrate on the chocolate-lactose connection.

Chocolate itself comes from the cocoa nut. Cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and chocolate liquor, better known as baking chocolate or bitter chocolate, are all pure chocolate with no lactose. Why add lactose? The name "bitter chocolate" offers a clue. Lactose is a sugar and adds sweetness. That's why milk and chocolate are paired together so often.

Not all chocolates have lactose added, fortunately. Dark and semi-sweet chocolates are almost always lactose-free. Usually the higher the cocoa content, the less likelihood there is of encountering lactose. Personally, I've settled on chocolate bars that are 70-72% chocolate. You can find higher percentages on the shelves but I find them too strong.

That last section referred to pure high-quality dark chocolate bars. High quality in chocolate also means higher priced. Some cheaper dark chocolates have milkfat included as an ingredient. Peter Paul Mounds bars do, to answer another question sent in to me. Milkfat should not contain any appreciable percentage of lactose so those with LI don't need to worry at all about it, although anyone with a dairy allergy needs to stay away.

Milk chocolate of course has milk in it. How much milk? Depends on the recipe and the brand and the cost and a million other factors. Most people with LI won't have any symptoms if they were to nibble on a small bit of milk chocolate. The more you eat, the lactose you take in. You have to know your own body well enough to do when to stop.

Especially children with LI. I received this wise email from a mother who was uncommonly watchful and observant.
I can attest (due to my 4 year old's case of LI) that milk chocolate & even semi-sweet chocolate contain enough lactose & milk in them to cause a reaction. (I'm sure this is just because he is barely 40 lbs & the ratio of chocolate to body weight a child eats is far greater than that of an adult.)

I have been cutting up dark chocolate bars for the past several years to make our chocolate chip cookies, and it seems that he can tolerate dark chocolate, but not the semi-sweet nor milk chocolate chips.

White chocolate isn't truly chocolate according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And it must contain a minimum of 14% milk solids. Avoid.

Do I dare get into the sinkhole of whether "chocolate cake, cupcakes, and candy" contain lactose? Nope. Most do. Some don't. Check ingredients labels. Patronize stores and bakeries that feature dairy-free products. Look for dairy-free recipes. Check my Milk-Free Bookstore for dairy-free cookbooks. Planet Lactose is a huge, huge world. You need to take time to explore it.

But there's absolutely no need to avoid chocolate while doing so.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Incidence of Lactose Intolerance Among Young Children

Simple questions deserve simple answers. How I wish that were true. So many of the simple questions I get can only be answered by "maybes" and "possiblys" and "we need more facts."

Take this simple question.

What is the incidence of Lactose Intolerance among young children?

You might think I could just check my sources and give a quick answer. But no.

First, how young is young? The answer will differ greatly at five months, five years, and fifteen years. Second, while I can usually assume my questioners are asking about the U.S., I don't know this for sure. The answer differs greatly around the world. Heck, it differs greatly among various populations in the U.S.

Start with very, very young children. The ability to manufacture lactase in the intestine is one of the last functions to develop in a fetus. Most premature babies, therefore, can't handle lactose very well. Fortunately, the intestines mature rapidly after birth. Within a few days they catch up to other babies and should be fine after that with proper care.

A very few full-term babies are born without any ability to manufacture lactase at all. This condition is called congenital lactose intolerance. It is extremely rare. And by rare I mean in the tens or hundreds worldwide ever. Today this problem is caught very rapidly and the baby is put on a non-dairy formula. Congenital LI never goes away. The individual must go dairy-free for life.

Humans, like almost every other mammal, are programmed to drink their mother's milk until weaning. That means the percentage of children under three who are naturally LI is near zero. You can become unnaturally LI, though. The common gastrointestinal illness known incorrectly as the "stomach flu" can knock out the lactase-making ability temporarily. This is known as Secondary LI. A pediatric gastroenterologist I spoke with said that at any moment, 10-15% of the children in his practice are experiencing GI problems and 10-15% of those become LI as a result. Doing the math, if I could freeze time and just sample the population for that split second, about 1% of young children, under three, would be temporarily LI.

What happens after weaning? Humans, again, are programmed to lose their lactase-making ability after weaning. This is Primary LI, the LI that usually gets talked about. Medical researchers have scoured the globe doing tests on every possible population. The results are very mixed, partially because of small sample sizes, different lactose loads, and older testing methods, and partially because humans themselves are mixed. Pure populations are rare to non-existent, and this is doubly so in the U.S., that mongrel melting pot.

Overall, the most that anyone can say is that populations that tend toward having a very high percentage of their members LI as adults are also populations that tend toward losing the ability to make lactase as a very early age, some with high percentages even by age three.

Populations, like northern Europeans and their descendants, that tend toward having a low percentage of their members LI as adults tend to lose that ability at a later age, many not until adulthood. That's why Primary LI was mistakenly called Adult-Onset LI for a while, until researchers learned better.

A very long and complex answer to a seemingly simple question. I hope you found it better than my first try, which boiled down to "nobody really knows." That's still true, but now you know why that's true. And that's the big step forward.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peppermint Extract for LI? No.

I'm doing mostly questions this week, some new, some old. I like the questions that make me think, and can't just answered by a yes or no, although a yes or no may emerge out of the available evidence. Like this one.

I read something about different things to try for lactose intolerance
including peppermint extract...Are there non-medicinal methods that work?

The basics. Lactose intolerance (LI) is caused by the body not producing enough lactase to digest all the lactose that comes in. That lactose goes to the colon, where it is fermented by bacteria that live in the colon.

That suggests two approaches to alleviating the symptoms: add lactase or get rid of the bacteria.

And those are the two approaches taken. Lactase pills provide the missing lactase. Probiotics, from the cultures in yogurt to targeted pills like Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance, DairyCare, or Lactagen, provide the different type of bacteria that digest lactose rather than ferment it.

Neither approach affects the body itself. Lactase is a natural enzyme that works only on lactose. The bacterial supplements thrive in the colon and eat the lactose, but don't themselves enter the body. I'd be hard-pressed to call either one of them medicines. In fact, I'd say that both approaches are non-medicinal to start with.

Being non-medicinal is a big advantage. Neither lactase nor probiotics have side effects. (A tiny, tiny handful of people are allergic to the fungus that lactase is grown from, but even that is not a reaction to the lactase itself.)

Back to peppermint extract. It doesn't do either of the things known to reduce LI symptoms. What does it do? Traditionally, peppermint extract has been used to relieve bloating and gas. LI produces both bloating and gas, because the fermentation of the lactose. There would seem to be a connection.

If so, it's hard to find medical research that backs it up. One interesting report is "Peppermint oil (Mintoil®) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial," by G. Cappelloa, et al. in the journal Digestive and Liver Disease, Volume 39, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 530-536. It found that peppermint extract relieved symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome better than a placebo. But patients with LI were excluded from the testing. I can't find any articles that report on testing peppermint extract on patients with LI.

Right now I'd have to say that peppermint extract may help soothe the insides of certain people. Does it help LI? No evidence that it does. Is it non-medicinal? No more than the choices that are known to work. Would I recommend it? No. But reaching that answer proved more complicated than I thought at first.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Autistic Children Don't Have More Gastroenterologist Problems

The huge controversy in the autism community over whether the use of GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diets can help autistic children rages on. A new study in the journal Pediatrics, "Incidence of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children With Autism: A Population-Based Study," by Samar H. Ibrahim et al. won't stop it. You have to look at the study carefully to see that it really doesn't address whether a GFCF diet works. Instead it looks at the issue from the reverse angle. Do children with autism have more gastroenterological problems than children who don't.

The study got a good summary from Trine Tsouderos in the Chicago Tribune.

The study subjects were 121 autistic children and 242 other children. All were residents of Olmsted County, Minn., home to the Mayo Clinic. Comparing the cumulative incidence of gastrointestinal problems from birth until the late teens showed that the only significant differences were in constipation and feeding issues.

In addition, few specific conditions were diagnosed in the autistic children than in the control group, as reported by Roni Caryn Rabin in the New York Times.
[V]ery few of the autistic children had a specific diagnosis of a gastrointestinal disease. Only one autistic child had Crohn’s disease, and one had intestinal disaccharidase deficiency and lacked enzymes necessary to digest certain carbohydrates. None suffered from celiac disease, which some reports have linked to autism.

Two of the non-autistic children in the comparison group suffered from lactose intolerance, and one had a milk allergy.

Dr. Ibrahim suggested that the loss of appetite and difficulty gaining weight in autistic children may be related to the use of stimulant medications, which are often prescribed for the condition, and that the constipation may be due to children not consuming enough fiber or drinking enough water.

Dr. Ibrahim herself had no good words for followers of the GFCF diet.
"There is actually no trial that has proven so far that a gluten-free and casein-free diet improves autism," she said. "The diets are not easy to follow and can sometimes cause nutritional deficiencies."

This isn't the big study that will address the issue directly. There are studies ongoing that are testing the GFCF diet directly, but they haven't reported yet. This is just another medical point against the need for the diet. Medicine is like that. One single study is not enough. Like a jigsaw puzzle, it's the cumulative picture painted by many pieces, many studies that reveals the direction medicine moves in. That picture is not yet complete.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Donate Food Allergy Books to School Libraries

We've all had one of those "why didn't I think of that?" moments. I had another just now, reading the news.

The article was FAST group donates food-allergy related books to libraries from Nashoba Publishing, a group of small newspapers in suburban Boston.

The article, really a reprinted press release, said that:

The Groton-Dunstable Food Allergy Support Team (FAST) recently presented 50 books dealing with food allergy awareness to the school district's libraries.

FAST is a group dedicated to providing information and support to families coping with allergies, promoting allergy awareness in our school community, and working with the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District to ensure a safe environment for children with allergies.

One goal for FAST this year was to increase the awareness of food allergies and their severity at all grade levels of our school district by providing educational materials. FAST believes all children, as well as teachers and school personnel, can benefit from these books, not just those with allergies.

"We constantly see students without allergies supporting their friends who do have allergies," noted FAST Co-Chair Lisa Chau. "Through educational materials, these students can gain an understanding and appreciation of this serious health concern, and provide peer support to their friends with allergies."

FAST worked with the school district to select age-appropriate books for all levels, from preschool through high school. These books will be available to students when they return to school in September. FAST was able to provide these books through generous grant funding from the Groton- Dunstable Education Foundation, Inc.

What a great idea. Any of the dozens of support groups around the country could copy this. It's easy, inexpensive, and effective.

Thanks for making my day, Groton-Dunstable FAST.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

All About Diarrhea

I get excited whenever I find a good article on the Internet, one that is factually correct and contains a complete set of information, not a mere hit and run at the topic. That's becoming rare in these days when bloggers spew any random thoughts out at the rate of a hundred articles a month. is a higher caliber of site. They just published an article on diarrhea, written by Christian Nordqvist, that I have to restrain myself from quoting in large chunks.

I will restrict myself to one critical section.

Anybody who has had diarrhea for more than one week should see their doctor. The UK National Health Service advises parents to take their child to the doctor if:

• The child is aged 3 months to 1 year and the diarrhea has lasted over two days
• The child is over 1 year of age and the diarrhea has lasted more than five days

You should also see your doctor if you experience or witness any of the following:

• You have symptoms of dehydration - excessive thirst, very dry mouth, very little or no urination
• Your abdominal pain is severe
• You have severe rectal pain
• There is blood in the stools, the stools are black
• Your temperature is over 39C (102 F)
• A baby has not wet the diaper (UK: nappy) in over three hours
• A child/baby is very sleepy, irritable, or unresponsive
• A child/baby has a sunken abdomen
• A child/baby has sunken eyes and/or cheeks
• The child's/baby's skin does not flatten after being pinched

Prolonged diarrhea can also lead to hemorrhoids and, surprise, surprise, I found a good article on hemorrhoids there as well, also written by Nordqvist.

I recommend reading either or both articles all the way through for a thorough summary of those subjects.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Lactaid Funds Scholarship

Many if not most major businesses support charities, do community work, or lend their names to events. Many if not most businesses in the specialty food world, though, are so small that they either can't afford to do much of this work or don't do enough of it to make the news.

A college scholarship funded by Lactaid made me sit up and take notice.

The story, as reported in the Leesville, LA, Daily Leader, featured The Scholarships for Military Children Program, specifically one awarded to Shelby Iles.

Applicants for the 2009 program were required to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, participate in voluntary school and community activities, demonstrate leadership qualities, and write an essay on "What would you place in a time capsule to help people opening the capsule in the next century understand military life today. Explain you [sic] choices."
Let's assume Iles' essay was better proofread than the article.

The $1,500 college scholarship was awarded at the Fort Polk Commissary, one of 257 commissaries operated worldwide by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA).

Manufacturers and organizations that do business with the commissary system funded the scholarships with money ordinarily used for various other contests and promotions. Shelby’s scholarship at Fort Polk was funded through the generosity of Lactaid.

It's good to know that the commissary system recognizes lactose intolerance by doing business with Lactaid. And it's heartening to read that Lactaid gives a bit of it back to the community, in a fine form.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lactose-Free Birth Control Pills. The Definitive List.

Birth control pills are normally a series of 28 tiny pills in a case. The first 21 pills contain the active ingredient that prevents ovulation. The other seven are placebo pills, designed with no active ingredient, but included just because experience shows that it's easier for women to take a pill every single day rather than skipping a week and having to remember to restart.

All well and good, a system that has worked for 40 or more years.

The only problem, for a small set of women, was that for some reason, the vast majority of birth control pills made in America contain lactose as an inactive ingredient. Lactose, being non-reactive and slightly sweet, is an extremely common filler for many medications. Most medications have a lactose-free variety. A limited choice, therefore, but still a choice.

That limited choice used to be Demulen. Unfortunately, Demulen went off the market and was replaced by a generic named Zovia. And Zovia contained lactose.

What choices do women have today?

Thanks to the good folks at Wegmans Food and Drugs, my local supermarket chain, and one that has been in the forefront of making lactose information available, I can answer that question. Christopher Woodring, Pharmacist Intern, created a list based on information from Clinical Pharmacology. Many thanks to him for his arduous effort. Thanks also to the Wegmans East Avenue pharmacists, Katie Barbone, Natasha Dedes, and Paul Taranto.

The only pills that appears to have all its pills be completely lactose free are Nordette and Portia. [This is a correction from the original posting. Cryselle does have lactose in the active pills.] You should consult your own doctor and pharmacist to see if either of these pill are right for you.

The Alternatives listed as contractve injections, which obviously do not put lactose into your stomach. They are not pills but I am including them in this listing for your information.

You can find the full list of all contraceptive medications at this page on my site.

Women should remember that the amount of lactose in any one pill is tiny. Unless you are extremely lactose intolerant the amount of lactose in any individual pill should not cause any symptoms. The best pill for you may contain lactose. Still, I understand that many women are seeking to avoid dairy in all forms and all doses. This information should be especially helpful for you.

Drug Type Contains Lactose in
Drug NameManufacturer Active IngredientsInactive Ingredients
Low Dose Monophasic
Femcon Fe chewableWarner ChilcottYesNO
Microgestin 1.5/30WatsonYesNO
PortiaBarrNOinformation Not available
Extended Cycle
Loestrin-24 FEWarner ChilcottYesNO
Depo-ProveraNOnot applicable
Depo SubQNOnot applicable
MirenaNOnot applicable
Nuva RingNOnot applicable
Ortho EvraNOnot applicable

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Food Allergy Tests Can Be Unreliable

There are two major types of food allergy tests. A blood test checks to see whether or not you have a particular antibody called IgE. Skin prick tests reveal reactions to the potential allergen.

Both are good in certain ways. Both also have major problems that people must understand.

Emily Sohn gave some basics in the Los Angeles Times.

IgE tests are very good at confirming the lack of an allergy -- but only when the antibody is just plain missing. In many cases, for reasons scientists don't understand, just about everybody has antibodies to foods they don't react to. ...

These skin tests are fairly reliable when they're negative. Positive reactions to foods, on the other hand, are wrong up to 50% of the time.

Someone with a milk allergy might develop bumps from beef and pork pricks, and someone with an egg allergy might react to chicken and turkey pricks, simply because the proteins in those food groups are similar enough, or because a person has sensitive skin.

Allergy tests also have the same underlying problem that plagues testing for lactose intolerance. Even when the test predicts the allergy properly, it can't predict the severity of the reaction.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Dairy-Free Restaurant in St. Petersburg. Not the One in Florida

In a sign of how quickly and incredibly change can come to a society, a popular restaurant in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, formerly Petrograd, formerly St. Petersburg, capital of the Russian Empire and home to the tsars, has similarly undergone as complete and as dramatic a transformation. It is now kosher and dairy-free.

Jews left Russia by the millions after a series of pogroms in the late 19th and early 20th century. Judaism, like other religions, was suppressed in the Communist period. Millions perished in the Holocaust, millions more have emigrated since the founding of Israel. As a result, no more than 1 in 600 Russians today are Jewish.

So a Kosher restaurant in St. Petersburg is startling. And given the fledging capitalist society that is brewing there, economically foolhardy.

Owner Mikhail Mirilashvili doesn't care. He's doing it as a service to the remaining Jewish population. An article on explained the unusual gesture. According to the proprietor of the 7:40 restaurant, Abram Israelashvili,

"Our goal is not to earn as much money as possible, but to make kosher food available to all Jews of St. Petersburg."

The restaurant, meat-based and dairy free, now bears the kosher certification of the city’s Chief Rabbi and Chabad representative, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewzner.

During the 17-day switchover, explains Israelashvili, "we washed and scrubbed every square centimeter of the restaurant. We 'blow torched' our metal cookware. We had to replace all of our dishes and china ware, and replace the old stove."

The restaurant, now closed on Shabbat, and features entrées priced 30-40 percent below prices on the old menu. Though the restaurant is expected to eventually break even, Mr. Mirilashvili sponsored this mission, he says, as a way of helping local Jews adopt Jewish practices and make kosher dining at home and when eating out, a way of life.

I wouldn't have known where to send you to find dairy-free dining in Russia. Now I have a recommendation.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Finlandia: Real Cow's Milk Lactose-Free Cheese

After yesterday's diatribe, I though I'd show you the other half of the story.

You can get real cheese, made from real cow's milk, that is truly lactose-free. How do they do it? Science.

Finlandia Cheese is a subsidiary of Finland's largest dairy company, Valio. They have a reputation to uphold if they proclaim that their cheese is truly lactose-free. Yet they do.

How can Finlandia be lactose free?

Finlandia Swiss cheese is manufactured from milk which is coagulated by heat and microbial rennet. After coagulation the cheese is fermented with a souring agent containing lactobacilli, Streptococcus thermophilus and propionic acid bacteria. Within 24 hours, these bacteria break down the lactose into galactose and glucose. These are fermented further to lactic acid. Lactic acid is then fermented to acetic acid, propionic acid and carbon dioxide so that Finlandia Swiss does not contain lactose or any other carbohydrates.

Finlandia Imported Muenster, Gouda and Havarti cheeses are manufactured from milk which is coagulated by heat and microbial rennet. After coagulation the cheeses are fermented with a souring agent containing lactococci and lactobacilli. Within 24 hours, these bacteria break down the lactose into galactose and glucose. These are fermented further to lactic acid. Therefore these Finlandia cheeses do not contain lactose or any other carbohydrates. (Traces of lactose may be found in Havarti cheese, but levels are well below the limit accepted for a lactose-free claim.)

The following is a list of our lactose free products:

Imported Swiss, Imported Light Swiss, Imported Black Label Emmental, Imported Black Label Gouda, Imported Black Label Gruyere, Imported Oltermanni Baby Muenster, Imported Muenster, Imported Light Swiss, Imported Thin-Sliced Swiss, Imported Havarti, Imported Gouda.

All this and a page of tasty recipes. And Finlandia Cheese can be found in stores all over the United States.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lactose Found Not Only In Cow's Milk

I don't get it.

I realize I seem to start a lot of posts this way. So either this says a lot about me or a lot about the world. I'm hoping for the latter.

But, really folks. This one is simple. All milkable animals have milk that is high in lactose. This is not exactly news. Lactose is the basic sugar and the basic energy source in the milk of almost all mammals, humans included. Every textbook that writes about milk and mammals will say this. Because lactose is such a basic energy source, the amount of lactose in similar animals, such as those humans draw milk from, is about the same. It's almost always around 4-5%. Humans are the exception, with 7% lactose in their milk, but they're not milkable animals in the normal sense.

Of course I've said this before myself, in There's Lactose in All Animal Milks, Dummy! Some might say that calling people dummies is not a good idea, because it makes them feel bad.

They should feel bad. Because they're wrong. Normally I'd say they're ignorant, an honorable condition as we're all ignorant about most details of most subjects. Are they ignorant? Ignorance should be random, that is, if people say ignorant things on a subject the mistakes should comment on every possible side of the issue. It doesn't here. The mistakes always fall on one side. People - always people selling, or at least touting, a product - always say that the product they're selling, made with animal milk, is somehow different from cow's milk in that it doesn't contain lactose, or has a small amount of lactose, or, as in the case of Jessica Chapman of the Minneapolis/St. Paul CityPages, that buffalo milk mozzarella is "kosher for lactose-intolerant folks."

It's not. I've said that before, too in the unmistakably titled Water Buffalo Milk Isn't Low Lactose Either. Some aged cheeses are very low in lactose and suitable for those with lactose intolerance, true. That's true regardless of the starter milk they're made from. Water buffalo milk has no special lactose properties that cow's milk lacks.

Nor does goat's milk, or sheep's milk, or camel's milk, all of which have had low lactose claims made for. Can it be sheer coincidence that every false claim about animal milk always falls on the side opposite cow's milk, a claim that benefits the seller? I don't believe it. Someone somewhere along the line is pushing disinformation, wrongness that seeps its way through the Internet and poisons all future mentions.

They're all wrong. Take a look at the percentages given at The Lactose Zoo page of my website. The table was adapted from Milk and Milk Products in Human Nutrition, 2nd ed, rev., FAO Nutritional Studies, No. 27, S. K. Kon. Rome: Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, p. 3.

If you want a second opinion list, check this table from A Handbook of Sugar Analysis, by Charles Albert Browne. It dates from 1912, and the high points are higher than estimated today but the same relationships are clear. In other words, this simple fact about animal milks has been solidly established in the scientific literature for a century. Only today, with product to push, have people "forgotten" it. Excuse me for being skeptical.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Cream vs. Milk: The Battle of Carbs

Here's an email I received with confusion whose source I never could quite figure out.

I'm a diabetic, so I really limit the carbs I consume in a day. That's how I stay off meds. I see that milk has quite a lot of carbs I suppose due to the lactose. But cream does not have a significant amount of carbs. So thats what I stick with. Why !! does cream not have carbs or lactose?? Is there some process that takes place in manufacturing the product that takes it out?? I really curious about this. I have found a half&half product that claims to have taken the fat out. So that's what I use. It claims to have very low carbs.

Milk, like most foods, really, is water plus small amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

The carbohydrates in milk are all from the sugar, which is lactose. This is true for all forms of liquid milk, from skim milk to heavy cream. The only major difference is the amount of fat they contain. The lactose - carbohydrate - content is similar.

Whole milk 4.8%
Half-and-half 4.2%
Cream 3.9%

[The numbers are taken from my own Lactose Percentages page in my Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse.]

Not surprisingly, half-and-half - half milk and half cream - has a lactose content about halfway in between.

The difference between them in an ounce, which is about a splash of cream in coffee, would be about 1/4 of a gram. That's a really tiny amount.

Now, about the low fat half and half. That sounds oxymoronic, but such substitutes really exist, both in low fat and fat-free varieties. Here's an ingredients list for one such:
Nonfat milk, milk, corn syrup solids, artificial color, sugar, dipotassium phosphate, sodium citrate, mono and diglycerides, carageenan, natural and artificial flavors, vitamin A palmitate.

It's just fat-free milk bulked up with sugar - corn syrup solids, which means it may be lower fat, but would be higher in carbohydrates, not lower.

And this site has a direct nutritional comparison.
Half And Half (Land O Lakes)
Serving Size: 2Tbsp (30mL); Calories: 25, Total Fat: 1.5g, Carbs: 1g, Protein: 1g

Fat Free Half and Half (Land O Lakes)
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp; Calories: 20, Total Fat: 0g, Carbs: 3g, Protein: 1g

Just as I said. The amount of carbs increase in the fat free variety. You need to balance off the solids so that the fluid doesn't taste too watery. The half and half has 3.5 grams of solids; the fat free version has 4 grams of solids, just distributed differently.

Switching fat and sugar for all sugar isn't much of a bargain for anybody, and particularly not for a diabetic.

Always read the nutritional information given. It will save you in the end.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

GoodBelly - the Anti-Antibiotic

I don't even remember what sent me to the doctor. Not even my doctor, but the after-hours emergency clinic you can go to when your regular doctor isn't in the office. But I went and got the requisite dose of antibiotics.

And that's when I got really sick.

Antibiotics kill germs. Wrong. Antibiotics kill bacteria. All bacteria, indiscriminately, the good bacteria along with the bad. Antibiotics famously kill off the bacteria in your colon and that can lead to diarrhea. Horrible, constant diarrhea that lasts until the bacteria grow back. Which they can't do until after you stop taking the antibiotics.

The standard advice to lessen the horrid nature of the diarrhea is to eat yogurt, so that the active cultures - bacteria - can replenish the good stock in the colon. That has a few drawbacks for people trying to avoid dairy.

Aha. A niche for a product to fill.

Enter GoodBelly, the probiotic fruit drink.

Meet GoodBelly!

That's right, GoodBelly--a probiotic fruit drink packed full of probiotics and essential nutrients.

GoodBelly contains 20 billion live and active probiotic cultures per serving, which have been clinically tested to support digestive and immune health.

All GoodBelly products are fabulously free of dairy (it's not yogurt, it's a fruit drink!), wheat-free, soy-free, and entirely vegan, too. Why? Because we wouldn't have it any other way.

Of course, the GoodBelly folks don't limit their claims for goodness just to times when you're taking antibiotics. They tout their probiotics for all seasons. Maybe. You can test for yourself since they offer a buy one, get one free coupon on their site.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Food and Travel Translation Cards

One of the first posts I ever made on Planet Lactose was on the extremely apropos Food Sensitivities Translation Cards services that, as the title suggested, manufactured little cards people could carry in their wallets, pockets, or purses with the phrases they vitally needed translated into the language of the country they visited.

Both firms are still in business. The British firm, offers:

4 types of Dietary Alert Card:-

For celiacs and other diners following a gluten-free diet, we offer Classic Coeliac Cards.

For diners coping with a nut allergy or another medical condition necessitating a strict nut-free diet, we offer No Nuts Cards.

For diners with food sensitivities requiring help choosing from menus we offer Custom Card 1.

For diners with severe food allergies requiring help choosing from menus we offer Custom Card 2.

And the American firm,, got itself a spiffy write-up by Jen Leo in the Los Angeles Times.
Do your allergies (or your child's) make it challenging for you to travel abroad? helps liberate travelers who have food allergies and other health concerns.

What's hot: If you are a traveler who has a food allergy, you can order a translation card that lets restaurant servers and store clerks -- really, anyone who has a hand in serving you food -- know that there's an issue. The site offers cards in more than 25 languages. Its example of what it calls a "strongly worded" card shows variations of "I have a life-threatening allergy to shrimp" in the foreign language (Thai, in the example) and English with a visual aid on one side of the card. If you are allergic to nuts, that specific card will list a variety of nuts. There are also emergency cards for those who cannot eat gluten, who have diabetes or asthma, are lactose intolerant or are vegetarian. Prices for the cards vary from $6.50 to $9.50 (plus shipping), and you get two identical cards sent within one to three business days.

Nice to see businesses to cater to special foods need succeeding and staying available for years on end.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Keep Those Frozen Calories Low

One of the best things that non-dairy frozen desserts have going for them is that they are almost always lower calorie than the dense-with-butter-fat true ice creams. More butter fat doesn't have to equal more flavor, as anyone who has had a true chef's creation sorbet can attest.

Molly Kimball gives this sound advice along with a jumbo sprinkle of facts about various frozen dessert treats in her New Orleans Times-Picayune article.

Sherbets and sorbets are two more diet-friendly options. They may be made with real fruit purees, or with fruit juices, concentrates, or flavoring extracts.

What's the difference between the two? Sherbets may contain dairy, while sorbets and ices are dairy-free. A 4-ounce scoop of either can have as few as 60 calories if it's made with primarily fresh-fruit puree, or as much as 160 calories if it contains mostly juices and concentrates. ...

I realize that for the true ice cream purist or gelato connoisseur, only the real thing may do. But for those simply looking for a cool, refreshing treat, frozen yogurt can be a great low-calorie option. Soft-serve frozen yogurt typically has 90 to 130 calories per half-cup serving, with the no-sugar-added varieties as low as 80 to 90 calories. An added bonus: nearly all yogurts are low in fat and saturated fat.

When it comes to the selection of mix-ins and toppings for your frozen treat, fresh fruit is an obviously nutritious choice, adding a boost of antioxidants. Just check to see that it's actually fresh fruit, not fruit that's packed in syrup. For a bit of decadence, add a dollop of whipped cream for under 50 calories.

Just be sure you're not topping one dessert with another. Think about it: Does anyone really need to add a brownie or a candy bar to their ice cream?

Kimbell also reminds us, and if she doesn't, I do, that we don't really need those double - or triple - scoops. Or the dipped waffle cones. And that if we have to indulge in a whopper of sugar on top of fat on top of sugar, all sprinkled with more sugar, that we don't need to do so every day. If you have small indulgences on a regular basis, the titanic bargeloads that retail stores push at us to pry more dollars out of pockets will start to seem like too much, even of a good thing. A bite to satisfy, not a supersize to bloat.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Milk-Based Cultures in Stonyfield Soy Yogurt

I've seen several questions pop up about Stonyfield's O'Soy Soy Yogurt. Although it's a soy yogurt and none of the ingredients contain milk, the packaging contains a "CONTAINS SOY AND MILK" warning. Why? Because two of the six cultures that they use to make the yogurt are milk-based.

Michelle Civalier went the extra step and called the company in concern.

The representative informed me that this specific product has six probiotic cultures, two of which are grown in milk. (The details are proprietary, however, the spokeswoman did say there is no alternative method of growing those two cultures at this time.) The cultures ingest lactose, casein, and milk protein, meaning that those three things should not be present in the final product. What’s left of the milk after those parts are removed is present in the yogurt in amounts no greater than 5 ppm (parts per million). Stonyfield does not believe that these levels are high enough to cause a reaction in most sensitive or allergic people, but if there is concern, please consult a doctor before eating any of the product.
It's true that I've never heard of a documented reaction from anyone eating an O'Soy product. From the description given only the most extremely allergic would have even the possibility of a reaction. I'm sure most parents of allergic children would be concerned deposit this.

Civalier was. She asked:
Stonyfield promised to send my complaint to product development, though that didn’t provide me with any satisfaction as to why cultures that require milk to grow are being used in soy yogurt.

That's an interesting question. I haven't found any other soy yogurt to use milk-based cultures. They all claim to be dairy free. The Nancy's Yogurt FAQ page even explicitly states:
My son is allergic to dairy. Which of your products are completely casein-free?

All of our Organic Cultured Soy products are completely casein and dairy-free. We use nondairy cultures to culture our soy yogurt.

So it's not necessary to use milk-based cultures in soy yogurt. It's a choice that Stonyfield makes. Thus far it's been a successful choice, but it's one you need to think about.

You can find soy yogurts on the Nondairy Milk Alternatives - Other Nondairy Products of my Product Clearinghouse. I've made a note to the O'Soy Yogurt listing that states that it's made from milk-based cultures.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pseudoscience Has a Defender

I hope you all had a change to read my post on Nutripuncture - The Ultimate in Pseudoscience on Wednesday. I found the press release that was issued about the "treatment" to be both jaw-dropping and hilarious. If I ever start my own science fiction magazine, I couldn't do better than to title it "Oscillating Polymetallic Circuits."

The post almost immediately received a response from Dr. Meg Jordan of the California Institute of Integral Studies, the university where the demonstration took place. She defended Nutripuncture and alternative medicine in general. And she lifted my hopes only to see them dashed to the ground. She wrote:

Your copy is fun to read -- similar to other quick-witted bloggers who enjoy dishing out ridicule and heavy-handed opinion.

Quick-witted! Even though I'm sure she was being sarcastic, I'll take the compliment. I wonder if she'll let me use it as a blurb on a book.

The second half of the sentence is what buoyed my spirits. The implication is surely that some, many, scores and hordes of other bloggers have been similarly mocking the pseudoscience that is Nutripuncture.

Are you out there? Please, please let me know. I feel so lonely being the only one.

And the only one I appear to be. I searched for Nutripuncture. What I found was the following.

Nutripuncture class with Dr Veret.
I attended Dr. Veret's class last time he was in Austin and had some very interesting results.

Thirty years ago, I lost a child and often felt a deep sadness. In 45 minutes of needless acupuncture, I was able to release the emotional pain with no charge on it at all. I still remember my precious child and I am free of the sadness.

The protocol is called NUTRIPUNCTURE, needleless acupuncture and it can work on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

Heidi's Heart.
since last December, when I had my uterus scraped (a uterine oblation) because I was bleeding up to a pint a day, my psychic ability has diminished to nil. I hadn't made the connection before between the ground of my sexual being and psychic experiences. For example, I have not seen beings of light in my living room or out and about in the world for almost a year now, whereas I used to see them several times a day.

An intuitive healer recommended that I try nutripuncture, which is a blend of acupuncture theory and homeopathy. He prescribed yin-yang, uterine, and thyroid combinations for me, and I've been taking them for the past two weeks.

Immediately, my dreams became much more vibrant and real. And I am beginning to remember the messages upon waking, like the one this morning: "Things that you need to shout to the world, even though the world may not be listening."

I have also begun to see energy fields again, not yet full-blown beings of light, angels, some might call them, but at least energy fields. These vibrations are very clearly discernible against the backdrop of objects and persons in the "normal world."

I guess what I am finding is that Nutripuncture gives one an exciting definable experience. In my case, for example, after taking the oedipal sequences, my relationship with my parents improved dramatically and of course it took time and push-back and doing other things too but the Nutripuncture feels very solid in resolving many of my body's knee-jerk responses to them

Caught in the Illusion - Nutripuncture.
NUTRIPUNCTURE richly combines the elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine with breakthrough research in potentiating cellular membrane function and balancing and revitalizing the informational pathways of the body to provide rapid healing results without adding any additional disturbances to the body as many medicines and even natural remedies are well known to do.

Nutripuncture is based on the work Of Nicola Tesla and George Lakhowski on Cellular Oscillation and on the wok of Barbara Mc Clintock which earned her a Nobel Prize in 1983. This energetic form of acupuncture is able to locate and address disturbances in the vital currents. These disturbances are the root cause for pathologies in your body, mind and spirit.

Unbelievable - what I saw in the last month - one can do diagnosis of another person via voice (nutripuncture & our own Jean Loup at BM), via musical chetki (shamanic ceremony), via breathing ( But it all an addition to a developed intuition and pereception and skills...

He advised me to get off a prescription med which was just blocking my bodies natural instinct. He wisely gave me some all natural herbal supplements and added some NutriPuncture to my regular intake. Holy Shitballs!!! I FEEL FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. Back to the high energy I am used to having. My attitude is pumped again. I am back on track and ready to be a seriously productive, fun loving freak getting some shit done.

Holy Shitballs!!! indeed. Is there anything Nutripucture can't do? I'm so pumped on this.

But wait. What's this? A dissenting voice? True, it's now seven years old, but I'm sure Dr. Jordan has a better memory than I do. And unlike those posts from believers who would support anything alternative, this post - called, wonderfully, "A Higher Level of Nonsense" was made by Stephen Barrett, M.D., who is Board Chairman of Quackwatch, Inc., and Vice President of the National Council Against Health Fraud, before whom I bow down and proclaim "I'm not worthy."

He wrote:
Nutripuncture uses "homeopathic nutrient pills" that are said to work like acupuncture needles. Proponents claim that small tablets incorporated with tiny amounts of nutrients have "an immediate action on cellular levels of the body's organs" and "restore the information and the function of the organs and emotional blockages." (In other words, insignificant amounts of nutrients are swallowed to influence an imaginary body electrical system to "balance" imaginary body forces that supposedly are related to organ dysfunctions.)

A proponent Web site lists 38 nutrient products, 38 organs, 38 symptoms, and 38 psychological states -- all numbered to tell the practitioner which product should be used for which organ, symptom, or psychological state. There is no scientific evidence or reason to believe that large amounts of the listed nutrients can do what the proponents claim. But even if they could, the amounts contained in the nutripuncture products would be too small to have the same effect.

One seven year old post. Balanced against the ability to diagnose via voice!

Dr. Jordan you're winning the war against the war against ignorance. Ignorance is rampant across this country. And across France as well, judging by the number of blogs in French that I couldn't read. In the battle of quick wits against half-wits, I guess we know who's coming out ahead.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Essence of Unreality

To end the week's run on press releases you should ignore I go back to the old reliable, homeopathy. I did a warning about a homeopathic allergy medication that claimed to cure practically everything except the derivatives crisis back in March. But these claims never go away. They are evergreens in the deciduous world of pseudoscience., Your Online Chiropractic Community, has added a slew of articles touting homeopathic remedies. Yes, I do consider chiropractic practices to be among the pseudosciences and it's touting of homeopathy is one major reason why.

Specifically, a release by Frank J. King Jr., ND, DC, which should speak for itself.


It may be necessary to search out additional homeopathic formulas to address all underlying causes. Since homeopathy is based on the law of similars, look for formulas that relate to your patient’s symptomatic patterns, such as sinus, headache, skin irritations, asthma, snoring, etc.

There are homeopathic formulas for other specific allergies that can have a compounding effect with other allergies. There are homeopathic formulas for animals, dairy, dust, eggs, fragrances, fruits, grains, nightshades, nuts, and shellfish.

Other factors that can inflame seasonal and year-round allergies include toxicities. There are also homeopathic formulas designed to connect common toxicities, such as caffeine, cosmetics, household chemicals, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution, food additives and preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and water chemicals.

Also to assist with toxicities are homeopathic formulas that activate the body’s natural detoxification mechanisms to work properly, such as blood, kidney, lymph, liver, and acid formulas.

There's some trouble in the Middle East as well. I recommend essence of gefilte fish.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Don't Listen to Experts!

And today's entry in our continuing series on humorous press releases starts with the sentence:

The nation's leading health experts insist that we drink plenty of milk and eat dairy foods to protect our bones.

And then tells you to ignore all the nation's leading health experts and listen to...
health writer Michael Castleman.

Yes, exactly. It is always sound advice to ignore leading health experts. In fact, I'll go farther than that. It is always sound advice to ignore all leading experts. On everything.

Wait. I'm a leading expect. That means it's sound advice to ignore what I just said.

Please do so.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Nutripuncture: The Ultimate in Pseudoscience

I thought it was satire. I assumed it was from The Onion or some other site using scientific-sounding words to mock the nimrods who post their total lack of understanding of nutrition.

I mean, look at this. Who could believe it's to be taken seriously?

When Anna walked into the university auditorium at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), she was limping in obvious pain, barely able to put weight on her left knee. "It's nothing but bone on bone; I need a knee replacement," she said.

But after a few brief moments of Nutripuncture delivered by French scientist and medical doctor Patrick Veret, Anna walked around in a circle, upright and spry, as if no surgery was needed. "I'm stunned. What just happened?" she asked.

The California Institute of Integral Studies? That's a made-up name, right?

Wrong. It's real, although reality is a loose concept from here on in. And Nutripuncture is "real" as well, even though it sounds like what it is, a ridiculous mishmosh of nutrition and acupuncture.

The nonsense stunning my system began when I read a press release titled Nutritional Acupuncture Restores Health in Stunning Demo.

Read this.
Dr. Veret is an expert in the science of Nutripuncture, a medical breakthrough developed in France based upon the original findings of scientist George Lakhovsky who worked with oscillating polymetallic circuits. Veret and his colleague Cristina Coumo, an Italian practitioner and movement therapist, offered two days of demonstrations before CIIS faculty and staff.

Oscillating polymetallic circuits? Remember that game of choosing one word from column A, one from column B, and one from column C and making them into an impressive-sounding but meaningless phrase? That's the kindest description I can give of oscillating polymetallic circuits. Nothing like that exists in science. It doesn't even exist in pseudoscience. A Google search for "Oscillating polymetallic circuits" returns only one hit: the press release.

It gets loonier the farther you read. Try this section:
according to Veret, Nutripuncture operates on additional dimensions, including psychological, spiritual, emotional, physical and an energetic plane that can only be described as pre-manifested or the process of incarnating into human flesh.

The more Veret tried to explain how Nutripuncture works, (in French with Cuomo's translations) the more the assembled parties wanted to see another demonstration. Soon people were asking for "whatever Anna got" No matter what physical complaint was presented to Veret, he began the same way. He asked the person "What is your name?" over and over. As the person responded, Veret listened carefully for the way the person embodied his or her identity, and from there, uncovered which lines of vital force in the body were laboring under miscommunication or sustained trauma or any number of breakdowns in energy flow. He then tested the muscle strength (applied kinesiology) while having the client chew a sequence of tiny mineral supplements—little chalky pills that contain trace amounts of substances such as calcium, zinc, and potassium, flavored with a little stevia and bound with "neutralized" lactose.

Ah, yes. "Neutralized" lactose. No wonder Anna's knee miraculously cured. If he used non-neutralized lactose, she might have exploded. Into rainbows and puppies.

You know that this is quackery, pure and simple. Nobody, not the deepest-dyed woo-woo among you, can take instant cures based on "oscillating polymetallic circuits" seriously.

But what about Patricia Biesen's Your dairy-free first aid kit from *shudder* Would you understand as quickly that it is just as meaningless?
Sometimes even with the best of intentions, you may have an “oops” moment. “Oh no there was sour cream in that?” Next, you wind up not feeling so good. Here comes your first aid kit to the rescue, what every lactose intolerant foodie should have on hand for “emergencies”: ...

Digestive or Swedish bitters. Can be taken as a liquid medicinal or capsule form. Swedish bitters are a traditional herbal tonic, composed of 11 herbs: aloe, myrrh, saffron, senna leaves, camphor, rhubarb roots, zedvoary roots, manna, theriac venezian, carline thistle roots and angelica roots in a base of water and alcohol.

Biesen also confused lactose intolerance with cow's milk protein allergies. And she shills for other "alternative" products like Natren’s Mega Dophilus, Unikey’s high potency Magnesium, and Neti pots, none of which will do the slightest bit of good for any LI individual who has ingested milk. None.

There are degrees of pseudoscience, but that's like saying that zero comes in flavors. Skip the woo-woo. Science ain't perfect but the alternative is just plain nuts.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Malta Gets Lactose-Free Ice Cream. Why Not Us?

Americans, if they think of Nestlé at all, might have an image of chocolate bars and other comfort foods. In fact Nestlé S.A. is an insanely huge multi-national conglomerate based in Switzerland, whose products and activities span the globe. The U.S. market sees only a tiny fraction of the brands it makes internationally.

For some people that's a good thing. According to the British newspaper the Guardian Nestlé is one of the most boycotted brands in the world. A boycott has been fitfully instituted against the company since the 1970s because of the way it markets milk-based baby formulas to poor mothers in third-world countries. The vast majority of those mothers would be likely to have healthier children if their breastfed their babies.

Can you put the two sides of the company together? In reality, we do every day. Few of us notice which multinational conglomerate is the ultimate source of the products we fill our shopping carts with. Few of us can keep accounts of the pluses and minuses of their activities in 200 countries or follow the accusations made by activist groups supported or disabused by the business press. Doing so for every one of the tens of thousands of products in a supermarket would drive us all even nuttier than we are today. The modern world and capitalism depend on it being too large for any individual to comprehend.

I'm driven to these thoughts by, of all things, a press release that a newspaper on the island nation of Malta printed as a news article.

Ice creams for coeliacs and lactose intolerant consumers

Coeliacs and lactose intolerant consumers can this year enjoy a wide range of Nestlé ice creams which have been produced to address the needs of such conditions.

The Nestlé gluten-free ice creams, which include the Hello Kitty cup and stick, Indiana Jones cup, Nesquik sandwich and stick and Cremeria Fior di Latte and Lemon Sorbet are the result of specific manufacturing processes studied down to the finest detail, right from the selection of ingredients until the manufacturing stage. Nestlé continues to monitor its processes in all the packing stages, in order to ensure the utmost compliance with the standards that have enabled the company to attain the cross grain symbol. The symbol, which is printed on the product, indicates the product’s safety and guarantees no gluten presence in the product.

The lactose-free range of ice-creams, which include the Cremeria chocolate and vanilla tubs are produced with the same specific manufacturing processes but address the needs of consumers who usually, due to this condition, do not take any milk based ice cream. Although these ice creams have a very low lactose content of 0.4 per cent they still enjoy a genuine flavour and are made with only fresh Italian skimmed milk which is highly digestible.

The gluten-free and the lactose-free ice creams are available in all supermarkets and leading stores throughout Malta and Gozo.

The Republic of Malta, which includes the islands of Malta and Gozo, is home to fewer than half a million people, smaller than the county in which I live.

Yet the Maltese people will have access to a range of lactose-free and gluten-free ice creams greater than everything sold in the United States by all companies combined.

I can't comprehend this. I'm happy for the Maltese, obviously. I don't want to take away their good fortune at the expense of ours. Perhaps they're being used as nothing more than a living test market. These products are apparently available nowhere else in the world. Perhaps these treats, if well accepted, will one day sit on freezer shelves on every continent. (Antarctica excepted, to be sure.) In the meantime what explanation can be given for the fact that the millions of American consumers lack these basics?


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Super Allergy Cookbook

Lisa Lundy is another in the long series of mothers who have used their own experiences for their allergic children to try to help others. "From a Mother Who Knows" is her trademarked catch-phrase.

She's written The Super Allergy Girl Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Nut-Free Allergy & Celiac Cookbook.

More than a cookbook, this publication is actually the definitive textbook on the study of cooking for (and living with) food allergies, celiac disease, and intolerances. Whether you or someone you know are allergic to gluten (wheat), casein (dairy), lactose, eggs, nuts, or other foods, Lisa's book offers cooking tips and a survival guide to what you should and should not eat. Overall, there are 225 recipes and over 100 pages of useful information to help you get your life back!

You can order it directly from her site for $28.95.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Mixes

One of the biggest problems for those on any specialty diet is that cooking everything from scratch is difficult, but buying pre-made products or mixes is chancy. Chancy in that you have to experiment with many brands to find the taste and quality that suits you and that the companies who make specialty products are small, often have limited distribution and variety, and can go out of business quickly.

Few national brands have been willing to enter the relatively small specialty food market. That's understandable. Firms fight for every inch of shelf space, often paying out thousands of dollars per store to get the room they want. Specialty foods don't get this visibility, being confined to back corners or at least lesser-traffic areas of large supermarkets. Large advertising campaigns are usually the norm for big companies. These aren't affordable by the tiny companies but the large outlays require even larger returns, and these often aren't forthcoming.

So when a major company like Betty Crocker enters the gluten-free market, it's big news. It's also news that apparently the entry costs into a niche market like this are lower than they used to be, which may mean that other big firms will follow the lead of General Mills, the parent corporation.

A good place to start on this topic is For General Mills, Wheat-Free Items Are Tricky to Make, Cheap to Market, an online Wall Street Journal article by Ilan Brat.

Mass marketer General Mills Inc. is carving out a niche in gluten-free food after realizing it could reach eager customers without costly ad campaigns. It started with a gluten-free version of its Chex cereal last fall, for which the response was great.

The company's Betty Crocker brand is introducing gluten-free mixes for cookies, brownies and cakes. The mixes are the first gluten-free offering from a major, mainstream brand in the cake-mix aisle. Gluten is a key protein in wheat, but many people react badly to it.

Ann Simonds, General Mills's president of baking products, says the company decided to pursue gluten-free products last year after its customer-relations department noticed that customer inquiries about food allergies and sensitivities most frequently centered on whether items contained gluten.

"It used to be, as a marketer in the food industry, you needed a $50 million idea to make the business model work," says Ms. Simonds. "Today, you can meet an unmet need that will be a $5 million business . ... That would be worth it for a company like General Mills."

Two major hurdles remain. One is that the market for gluten-free products is likely to be similar to the market for dairy-free products.
Although only about 1% of the U.S. population has Celiac disease, General Mills says its research shows about 12% of U.S. households want to eliminate or reduce their gluten intake...

In the dairy-free world, people say they are interested but that doesn't translate into actual purchases. If 12% of households buy these goods, General Mills will have a major hit. If 1% buy them, they will disappear from the shelves.

The other hurdle is quality, consistency, and ease of use. That's always been a major issue for anyone trying to bake without wheat. A point you should know: the mixes are made in a dedicated gluten-free factory.
From September to December, General Mills food scientists baked more than 1,000 pans of brownies, cookies and cakes while conducting about 75 experiments with different formulations, says Jodi Benson, director of baking products research and development.

In initial experiments with yellow cake, the rice-flour mix wouldn't rise, leaving flat, dense and moist matter in the bottom of the pan, Ms. Benson says. The mix needed something to trap air.

Can ordinary people duplicate the successes the test kitchens finally achieved?

Tiffany Janes, an Atlanta writer at, baked up a pan of cookies and blogged about the results in Gluten-Free chocolate chip cookies and pan bars. Evidently, you need to follow the instructions exactly, even when they seem not to be working.
The gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix from Betty Crocker is not as easy to mix up as the brownie mix - by a long shot. The mix was so crumbly that it seemed it would not make very good cookies without extra liquid added. There was no unsweetened applesauce on hand to add so an extra egg went into the bowl. That was a mistake to say the least.

Even with the extra and unnecessary egg, the cookies passed the toughest test, the cookie eater:
The cookie lover in our household is the gluten eater, who upon smelling the cookies was happy to give them a try. He scarfed down five huge cookies in as many minutes, and simply said "I think they're really good but you can taste the butter sliding down your throat". This is understandable considering the mix calls for an entire stick of butter. The cookies were very good and certainly if you didn't tell people they were gluten-free, they would never suspect it.

Didn't I say these are dairy-free? I did. But the recipe calls for butter and margarine may not work as a substitute.

Betty Crocker understands this and has a whole page on its Gluten-Free Dessert Mixes site devoted to "no butter" instructions for all its mixes.

Technically, the mixes are already out and available. You may not see them yet in your local store, because General Mills is slowly adding them by chain and region. They should be widely available by the end of summer. If you can't wait, you can go to, although you have to buy them six boxes at a time.

This could be the start of great times for us buyers of specialty foods. Or it could be such a bomb that no other company will touch them for years. That's what I love about reality. Unlike the reality shows on television, real life is unscripted.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Cool Summer Dairy-Free Frozen Desserts

"Time for some sweet treats to beat the heat!" wrote Allison Ryan of the LaSalle, Illinois NewsTribune. Yes, it's the start of summer and no matter the temperature outside all the news outlets are going to give you summer beat the heat recipes. (Wait. Didn't I say something just like that only a day or two ago? Answer: Yes.)

No matter. Dairy-free recipes are always good to have and its going to swelter sooner or later no matter where you live. (I don't know if I have readers in Antarctica, but if you take the really long view...)

Ryan gave recipes for Mango-Watermelon Granita, Coconut/Soy Milk Ice Cream, and Banana Ice Cream, all dairy-free and vegan.

There's even a video to help you with the directions.

Take that, summer heat!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Make Your Own Yogurt

The "Yogurt too tangy? Make your own," article by Jenny Lass and Jodi Bager of the Chicago Tribune got me thinking.

The recipe on that page seems fine and most people can use it. But the article also assumes that you already have a yogurt maker to make the recipe in.

Wait a second. If you already have a yogurt maker, don't you already have basic homemade yogurt recipes? I'll bet you get some in the same box as the appliance.

There are dozens of yogurt makers on the market. They go for about $25-50. What should you look for in a basic yogurt maker?

This Yogurt Maker Reviews and Buying Guide from Galt Technologies provides good information. It starts:

Just what should you look for in a yogurt maker? First, let's start with the top brands - Easiyo, Salton, Yogourmet, Donvier, Euro Cuisine, Waring Pro, Yolife and Cuisipro. They are sold in stores like Walmart, Target, and Sears in the kitchen appliance section. You can also find them online at websites like or What size yogurt maker is best? You will find that most machines will make 1 quart of yogurt although you can find 2 quart makers like the Yogourmet Multi. We say stick with the 1 quart variety unless everyone in the family agrees on the same type of yogurt.

There's more there of interest, so click on the link.

If you want individual product reviews, you can go to as the above page suggests. A short-lived blog, Your Yogurt Maker, compiled about a dozen reviews of top names on one page.

And puts some how to's and reviews on a single page that supplies all of the basics.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Recipe From Nearly Normal Cooking is one of the oldest and largest sites on the Net dealing with celiac disease. I've had it on my LI Links page for a decade and a quick search found several posts I've made that originate there, including A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dinner and New Gluten-Free Foods.

Today I saw a recipe on for gluten-free potato gnocchi that is also dairy-free if you use soy milk instead of cream in the making.

That's mildly interesting but individual recipes aren't normally worth a special report. What caught my eye was the bio of the author.

Jules Dowler Shepard's popular cookbook, Nearly Normal Cooking For Gluten-Free Eating, and new book, The First Year: Celiac Disease & Living Gluten-Free (2008), highlight her creativity in the kitchen. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 1999, Jules draws on personal experience in her consulting and gluten-free cooking classes. Her truly all purpose gluten-free flour has revolutionized gluten-free baking. Get her free newsletter and recipes at

I hadn't known about either cookbook. And Shepard's site has an enormous amount of material of interest on it.

So thanks to again for their continued work on this difficult subject.

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