Foods labelled 'nondairy' in the US may contain milk protein

A note on the very helpful site, Kids with Food Allergies, warns readers:

Current US food labeling regulations allow for an item to be labeled as "nondairy" on the package even if it has casein in it, a milk protein. The labeling regulations do require that the ingredient statement on nondairy products indicate the presence of casein or caseinates in the actual ingredient statement on the package. The regulation states:

"When foods characterized on the label as 'nondairy' contain a caseinate ingredient, the caseinate ingredient shall be followed by a parenthetical statement identifying its source. For example, if the manufacturer uses the term 'nondairy' on a creamer that contains sodium caseinate, it shall include a parenthetical term such as 'a milk derivative' after the listing of sodium caseinate in the ingredient list."

So, if you see a product labeled "nondairy" on the front of the package, don't assume that it is milk free! Always scrutinize the actual ingredient statement to look for any milk-derived ingredients.

Reference:Food and Drug Administration. (2004). Food; designation of ingredients. In Food Labeling. (21CFR101.4). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access. Retrieved June 7, 2005

First published January 2010


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