What consitutes "dairy?"

I was in the lunch room at my office today and was idly reading the label (I’m an inveterate label reader) on a canister of “Non Dairy Creamer.” The third ingredient was sodium caseinate - milk derived.


Um…does “milk derived” != “dairy?” I didn’t especially care, since I don’t use it anyway, but if I were, for example, a vegan or had an allergy to milk, I would have been a little pissed.

Is there any regulation governing what can be called dairy or non-dairy?

The Wiki article on non-dairy creamer seems to imply (although it does not explicitly state so) that your creamer is not considered dairy because it does not contain lactose.

It might be deceptive if you’re a vegan for ethical or environmental considerations, but the idea behind it seems to be that the majority of people who avoid dairy do so because of lactose intolerance (I don’t think that there is actually something like “milk allergy;” what you refer to is lactose intolerance, which is the incabability of your digestive system to process lactose. I could be wrong here, though). To these people, your non-dairy creamer works just fine.

Pages and pages. The FDA does not consider sodium caseinate to be a dairy product, even though it can be derived from milk. Some vegetarian and vegan advocacy groups have taken notice.

The German wiki article on non-dairy creamer is actually a bit more comprehensive, specifically addressing the “non-dairy” issue. It states that it is not considered dairy because it does not contain lactose, but that many vegans and Jews consider it dairy with respect to their nutritional customs or dietary laws.

Actually, yes there is such a thing as a “milk allergy” and it’s a much greater nuisance than lactose intolerance, but is less common.

It is possible to be allergic to a milk protein and that has nothing to do with a difficulty in digesting lactose (which is a milk sugar).

They are two completely separate conditions. People who are allergic to the milk protein may also get hives if they touch it, for example, and it can result in anaphylactic reactions.

Here is a snipped from an article at www.nutramed.com on milk allergies. Casein is a milk protein.

If a “dairy-free” creamer conatins casein, I’d be a little miffed if it was called “dairy-free” if I had a millk allergy.

All that matters for the manufacture is the FDA rules for labeling. Follow them or get in trouble.