Dairy free chocolate is generally sought by those who suffer from a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance, though it may be consumed for a variety of reasons. Dark chocolates are often a good bet when it comes to seeking chocolate that does not contain dairy products. However, this is not always the case. Many chocolate manufacturers do carry a line of dairy free chocolates for those with allergies, but it can be difficult to find. Label reading is essential for those with lactose intolerance or other allergy.
What are Dairy Allergies and Intolerances?
There is a difference between a dairy allergy and lactose intolerance. Likewise, there are varying degrees of dairy allergies. Some individuals may experience an inability to digest lactose, which is a natural sugar that is present in milk. Others may have an allergy to certain proteins in milk, such as casein, albumin or whey. Depending upon the specific allergy or intolerance, some people may be able to tolerate certain dairy products while others can’t digest any.
Signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance and dairy allergies can vary. Those with lactose intolerance may experience eczema, hives, abdominal pain, sneezing, shortness of breath, wheezing, watery eyes, a rash, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, running nose, coughing and any number of other allergic reactions. Typically, those with lactose intolerance experience stomach cramps and other symptoms related to an inability to digest the product. Individuals with an allergy to one or more of the proteins in milk will most likely experience similar symptoms. Typically, a dairy allergy will produce a sudden reaction, while lactose intolerance may be more gradual. Dairy allergies and intolerances are complicated, and the search for non-dairy chocolate can be just as difficult.
In Search of Dairy free Chocolate
Finding chocolate that is not made from milk or animal products can be a challenge. While quality dark chocolate is generally thought to be free from dairy products, some manufacturers today still use ingredients derived from dairy products in the creation of dark chocolates. In addition, some chocolates may be labelled as milk free, but may still contain animal products or other ingredients that can trigger an allergic reaction. One solution to finding chocolate that is dairy free is to closely read the ingredients. Any chocolate that lists “milk powder” as an ingredient should be avoided. Even some chocolate that is labelled as dark chocolate may contain milk powder. As an example, the Zotter Ecuador 50% includes “full cream milk powder” as an ingredient. Those searching for non-dairy chocolate should note that cocoa butter is not a dairy product, but a vegetable fat. It should also be noted that there is a difference between dairy free ingredients and a dairy free environment. While chocolate may be free from dairy products, it does not necessarily mean the chocolate was created in a dairy free environment. If it was created and packaged in a factory that also manufactures chocolate made with dairy products, there is a chance of cross-contamination. Those with extreme allergies and intolerances might want to seek out specific brands known for manufacturing chocolate in a dairy free environment, such as Moo Free or Plamil.
A large number of manufacturers now carry a line of dairy free chocolate specifically for those with allergies and intolerances, as well as vegans, vegetarians and others who desire to purchase dairy free chocolate for health or other reasons. Chocolate companies such as the Stamp Collection, Plamil and Booja-Booja sell a line of delicious dairy free chocolates. The Stamp Collection was even founded by actor Terence Stamp, who suffers from wheat allergies and dairy intolerances. Products from these companies are generally available at health stores and whole-food shops, as well as various other locations and online.
Advantages of a Dairy Free Diet
People don’t just choose dairy free diets because they suffer from intolerance or an allergy. Some also select dairy free foods for the health advantages they offer. Dairy consumption has been linked with an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease as a result of the high saturated fat content. Additionally, it has been linked to prostate and breast cancer. Milk is also an inflammatory product, which means it may contribute to excessive mucus, a blocked nose, gastrointestinal problems or asthma.
What do you have for me to try?
Here we've listed a selection of our dairy free chocolate: