Dark Chocolate and Milk Allergies

July 29, 2016

If you like dark chocolate, but are allergic to milk, you don’t know if you can have a chocolate bar without an allergic reaction. This is what the FDA wanted to learn after getting reports that people had reaction s after they ate dark chocolate.

In dark chocolate, milk is permitted, but it’s one of weight food allergen that can cause dangerous reactions for some people. Under U.S. law, foods that have major allergens have to be labelled by manufacturers along with proteins and other major allergenic ingredients. Food that doesn’t have the allergens listed on the label are leading causes of FDA recalls of that food and undeclared milk is often the main cause. Chocolate is the most common source of undeclared milk and the source of consumer allergic reactions.

Nearly 100 dark chocolate bars were tested by the FDA for the presence of milk. Earlier on this year, the FDA released preliminary findings and is now releasing more information about the research. The FDA got the bars from various locations around the U.S. and each of the bars were unique in terms of the manufacturer and the product line. Based on the statements on the labels, the bars were divides into categories.

It’s not easy to determine by looking at the label if the dark chocolate contains milk. Out of 94 of the bars that were tested by the FDA only six had milk as an ingredient and while testing the remaining 88 bars they found that 51 of them actually contained milk. Of all of the bars they tested, the FDA found 61 of them contained milk.

Milk can get into the processing of the dark chocolate, even if it’s not actually added as an ingredient. The machinery used to make dark chocolate often makes milk chocolate as well and traces of milk end up in the dark chocolate.

May Should be Seen as Likely

To let consumers know that the dark chocolate may contain milk, manufacturers will print “advisory” messages on the ingredient list of a product. There’s many messages such as:

  • “may contain dairy”
  • “may contain milk”
  • “made on equipment shared with milk”
  • “may contain traces of milk”
  • “manufactured in a facility that uses milk”
  • “processed in a plant that processes dairy”

In products that had these advisories, the FDA found 3 out of 4 bars had milk present. Some of the products had milk levels which were as high as products that declared milk as an ingredient.

You can’t assume that the dark chocolate you want doesn’t contain any milk even if it’s not mentioned at all on the label. If you’re allergic to milk about 33% of dark chocolate that gas milk contained no mention of milk at all on the labels.

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