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.


Understanding Lupin

March 25, 2016

Another word for lupin is lupine and it’s a legume which belongs to the same plant family as peanuts belong to. Many people can eat flour made from a lupin-derived ingredient or regular lupin according to senior medical advisor at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Stefano Luccioli, M.D. In some medical literature however, reactions to lupin for some people can be quite severe.

Some reactions can include a severe response to an allergen called anaphylaxis which may even include shock. This is life-threatening and can occur very fast. Lupin are allergens and they can cause this type of response.

People will develop an allergy to lupins over time like they do with all allergens. For people that already have a legume allergy, eating lupin could cause an allergic response even if they eat the food just once. People that are allergic to peanuts according to studies, have a greater chances of having an allergy to lupin. Parents know how to look for and to avoid peanuts if they have a child with a peanut allergy, but they may not know what a lupin is or if this is an ingredient which could harm their child.

For many Europeans, lupin is a staple food and they may be more aware of the allergenic properties of it and are more accustomed to seeing it as a food ingredient, but it’s quite new to the U.S. market. Many Americans may not even have heard of the legume. It may be found at Italian or other ethnic stores as lupini beans or it can be found in packaged products.

It can be Found Often in Gluten-Free Products

Lupin may become more popular because foods made with lupin-derived ingredients are the perfect substitutes for gluten-containing flours and it’s often used in gluten-free products. Today, there are more gluten-free products on store shelves and people that have an awareness about gluten are buying them. These buyers need to know that lupin may be a potential allergen for them.

You need to Read the Label

Food labels are required by law to list the ingredients of the product. When lupin is found in a food then it has to be listed on the label. Consumers that are looking to avoid lupin and those that have allergies to peanuts need to be careful and need to look for “lupine” or “lupin on their food labels and avoid the food if it’s there.

If you feel that you’re having an allergic reaction to lupin then you need to stop eating the product and seek medical care. You may have symptoms like hives, vomiting, swelling of your lips, or difficulty breathing according to Luccioli.

Food Allergy

July 27, 2011

Since 2006, it has been much easier for people allergic to certain foods to avoid packaged products that contain them, says Rhonda Kane, a registered dietitian and consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration.

This is because a federal law requires that the labels of most packaged foods marketed in the U.S. disclose—in simple-to-understand terms—when they are made with a “major food allergen.”

Eight foods, and ingredients containing their proteins, are defined as major food allergens. These foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies:

  • milk
  • egg
  • fish, such as bass, flounder, or cod
  • crustacean shellfish, such as crab, lobster, or shrimp
  • tree nuts, such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • soybeans

The law allows manufacturers a choice in how they identify the specific “food source names,” such as “milk,” “cod,” “shrimp,” or “walnuts,” of the major food allergens on the label. They must be declared either in:

  • the ingredient list, such as “casein (milk)” or “nonfat dry milk,” or
  • a separate “Contains” statement, such as “Contains milk,” placed immediately after or next to the ingredient list.

“So first look for the ‘Contains’ statement and if your allergen is listed, put the product back on the shelf,” says Kane. “If there is no ‘Contains’ statement, it’s very important to read the entire ingredient list to see if your allergen is present. If you see its name even once, it’s back to the shelf for that food too.”

There are many different ingredients that contain the same major food allergen, but sometimes the ingredients’ names do not indicate their specific food sources. For example, casein, sodium caseinate, and whey are all milk proteins. Although the same allergen can be present in multiple ingredients, its “food source name” (for example, milk) must appear in the ingredient list just once to comply with labeling requirements.

Manufacturers can change their products’ ingredients at any time, so Kane says it’s a good idea to check the ingredient list every time you buy the product—even if you have eaten it before and didn’t have an allergy.

“If you’re unsure about whether a food contains any ingredient to which you are sensitive, don’t buy the product, or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains,” says Kane. “We all want convenience, but it’s not worth playing Russian roulette with your life or that of someone under your care.”