You’d anticipate milk and ice cream to include lactose — a sort of sugar present in milk and milk merchandise. But salad dressing and lunch meat? Sneaky!

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And in case you have a lactose intolerance or comply with a dairy-free or vegan diet, chances are you’ll must keep away from dairy merchandise. But the record of meals which might be dairy could also be longer than you suppose.

Registered dietitian Anna Taylor, RD, LD, factors out sure meals with dairy and what phrases to search for in your meals labels in the event you’re residing dairy-free.

What’s thought of dairy?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines dairy as milk, yogurt, cheese, lactose-free milk and fortified soy milk and yogurt.

But “nondairy” on a label doesn’t imply the product doesn’t include milk derivatives. For instance, a nondairy meals could include casein, one of many main milk allergens.

Foods which have dairy

Looking for an inventory of dairy merchandise to keep away from? Here are some widespread meals that you could be not suppose include dairy however do.

Margarine and butter

Is butter a dairy product? Yes, says Taylor. Butter is often made by churning cream that comes from a cow’s milk. And even margarine, which you will suppose is a dairy-free various, could include dairy elements like whey or lactose.

“There are plenty of vegan margarines on the market now,” she says. “An easy way to double-check is a quick glance at the package. If a product contains milk, it must disclose this by saying ‘contains milk’ or similar wording at the end of the ingredients list.”


Does chocolate have dairy? Say it ain’t so! Unfortunately, a number of chocolate accommodates milk — milk chocolate, white chocolate and even some dark chocolate.

“There are plenty of dark chocolates that don’t contain milk as an ingredient, but they may still be cross-contaminated with milk if they are made on the same equipment as other types of chocolate,” clarifies Taylor.


Think twice earlier than you attain for that dinner roll. You must examine the label to see if the bread you’re about to eat accommodates lactose (which is used generally as a sweetener) or whey (which is utilized in some circumstances as a preservative). You additionally must be careful for crackers, which can additionally include lactose and whey. Check the label for any dairy elements or milk derivatives (extra on these in a second).

Baked items

Chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cake, bread pudding — the record can go on and on with baked items that include some type of dairy. Just take into consideration all that butter in your go-to recipe for sugar cookies. And even when a recipe doesn’t name for butter, you want to be careful for people who use yogurt or milk.

“Of course, not all baked goods contain dairy. Grocery stores often carry specialty products that are dairy-free or even vegan, and the internet is swarming with dairy-free recipe alternatives for a variety of baked goods,” notes Taylor. “And if it’s a sweet tooth you’re coddling, there are also plenty of tasty plant-based ice creams on the market today that use an alternative like coconut milk or soy milk — so these would be dairy-free as well.”


The icing on the cake? It’s in all probability made with milk and even cream.

“Luckily, your holiday cookies can be decorated with a simple mixture of water and powdered sugar (food coloring and your favorite extract flavoring optional!),” suggests Taylor. “Let’s just not fool ourselves into thinking it’s any healthier just because it’s dairy-free!”

Hot canines

While chances are you’ll not consider the ballpark staple containing any dairy, you want to watch out. Even sausages and deli meat could include types of dairy.

Instant mashed potatoes

You know that do-it-yourself mashed potatoes are sometimes made with milk and butter. But what about immediate mashed potatoes? Sorry to burst your bubble, however the combination typically accommodates powdered milk or butter so as to add taste.

Salad dressings

Skip pre-made choices, which have a tendency to make use of lactose for a creamy consistency and so as to add taste. Instead, decide to make your personal salad dressing at dwelling.

“Try mixing 1 part vinegar (such as apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar) or lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil,” shares Taylor. “Feel free to add some seasonings (like pepper or Italian seasoning) and a dollop of your favorite grainy mustard to flavor. It’s easy, fast and delicious — without all the unnecessary additives.”

Flavored potato chips

It might be straightforward to chomp your means by an entire bag of barbecue or salt-and-vinegar potato chips, however any type of chip that is available in a taste like dill pickle or bitter cream-and-onion typically include dairy of their seasoning.

Canned tuna

Think you’re simply getting tuna packed in water or oil? Think once more, there could also be hidden dairy elements. Many varieties flip to casein as a filler.

Canned or boxed soup and broth

Sure, it is smart that cream of rooster and cream of broccoli soups to have dairy (sometimes milk solids). But don’t neglect to examine different choices, even rooster, vegetable and beef broth.


You simply had a really garlicky lunch and must clean up your breath earlier than your afternoon assembly. But do you know that some manufacturers of gum use dairy within the type of casein? Make certain you learn the label earlier than you chew.

Medicines and nutritional vitamins

Taylor says to recollect to examine your drugs, too. About 20% of prescription drugs and 6% of over-the-counter medication include lactose. Talk to your physician about your choices.

“Or chat with your pharmacist about it,” she recommends. “They often have access to ingredient information for many medications and supplements.”

Other elements to be careful for

In addition to take advantage of listed on a product’s label, chances are you’ll be questioning: What is a milk by-product and what has dairy in it? If you’re avoiding dairy for any cause, it’s essential to examine your meals labels for the next elements, many that are thought of a milk by-product:

  • Butter.
  • Casein.
  • Caseinates.
  • Curds.
  • Dry milk solids.
  • Lactalbumin.
  • Lactalbumin phosphate.
  • Lactoglobulin.
  • Lactose.
  • Milk.
  • Milk by-products.
  • Nonfat dry milk.
  • Whey.

“Since milk is one of the top allergens in the U.S., it has to be listed directly under the ingredients list if a product contains any dairy,” emphasizes Taylor. “So, don’t forget to check that label!”

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