Between oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, and rice milk, it seems like navigating the dairy aisle has become increasingly complicated. While these products are valuable alternatives for those who need or want to avoid dairy in their diets, deciphering their food labels can be confusing. In this blog, we’ll discuss what to look for on dairy-free product labels to ensure consumers can safely and conveniently buy products.
Check Allergen Labels
If you aren’t sure what to look for on dairy-free product labels, start with the allergen label. The FDA requires that food products that contain common allergens, such as tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soybeans, provide clear and legible allergen labels to alert customers. There are several different purposes of allergen labels, but they are primarily important to prevent customers from experiencing allergic reactions to foods.
If you are lactose intolerant or prefer to avoid dairy in your diet, allergen labels should be your first indication of whether food will be safe for your consumption.
Dietary Claim Labels
Unfortunately, not all dietary labels are the same. While the FDA regulates allergen labels, dietary claim labels are not mandated or regulated at all. And since these labels are unregulated, it is crucial to pay close attention to the exact wording. Here are a few dietary dairy claim labels you may come across.
This label should indicate that a product contains zero milk-based ingredients.
Consumers should read “non-dairy” product labels with more caution. Although the FDA does not regulate this label, it did previously define non-dairy products as those in which milk makes up less than .5 percent of the total product weight. Although this definition is now obsolete, products may still contain small percentages of dairy. Creamers and whipped cream are common products that may still contain small traces of dairy despite these labels.
Lactose-free labels indicate that a product does not include milk or sugar. However, these products are often not wholly free of milk-based ingredients like cheese, sour cream, and even buttermilk.
Since the wording of dietary claim labels can change without regulation, it’s imperative to check the ingredient label of products as a final step before consuming foods. All food products must include a complete list of ingredients, which means that they will need to list any dairy products present.
As more and more consumers remove dairy from their daily diets, it is essential to pay attention to how brands market dairy in their products. Once you understand how to navigate the different types of dairy labels, you’ll be more likely to buy projects that suit your health and desire.
Authored by Inspire Your Journey