Can you read labels?
There are currently no quick and easy symbols to tell you if a food is dairy or lactose free, so you really need to read the labels carefully, both front and back of packs. You’ll soon get to know what you can and can’t buy.
As milk is a known allergen along with eggs, nuts, peanuts, soya, mustard, lupin, fish, shellfish, molluscs, gluten, sesame seeds, celery, sulfite food labelling laws set out by the European Union (EU) require that all dairy food or foods containing dairy must be labeled as ‘contains milk’, no matter how tiny the quantities. Any food containing an ingredient that may have been derived from milk must also be labeled as containing milk. See our ingredients list for more dairy derived ingredients that may be hard to spot unless you know how. Get this list on your smartphone!
- Unlikely foods which may contain lactose include pre-packed sliced ham/chicken, sausages, filled pasta, savoury rice, instant mash, breaded or battered fish/meat, bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals, icing, guacamole, margarines and crisps.
- When travelling outside of the EU, labeling laws may be different so check ingredients even more carefully.
What if there's no label?
Check before you buy, but if you’re still not sure, to be safe avoid
Foods sold loose (e.g. from a bakery, delicatessen, butcher or cafe) If you use natural products it’s more likely to be lactose free.
- Foods packed for direct sale (e.g. sandwich bars, market stall)
- Some catering products If it says ‘milk free’… It’s still a good idea to double-check the ingredients list. If you’re still in doubt, check with the manufacturer.