Chocolate. It’s one of the most loved foods in the world. And with its chemical properties, we know that chocolate can actually improve mood (at least temporarily).
But what if you have a milk allergy and you are craving chocolate? We know milk chocolate is not safe.
Many of my readers ask specifically, “is dark chocolate safe?”.
If you have a milk allergy, don’t fret. I don’t want you to make a big mistake and avoid chocolate all together. That would be tragic.
So what is the deal? Does dark chocolate have dairy?
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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here. Keep in mind food production can change, always check food labels to be sure products are free of your particular food allergen. For further information please see full Disclaimer.
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So let’s talk for a bit about cacao. To be clear, cacao seeds do not contain milk or dairy. The preparation of these cacao seeds is what turns cacao into chocolate. And there are plenty of different things that can be added to cacao to make chocolate.
And if you follow me, you know I am not a botanist. I don’t want to try to explain the cacao seed and how it changes from a cacao seed to actual chocolate. I learned my lesson trying to explain what a drupe was in another post.
So, I will leave it to you and perhaps Google to learn about the botany of cacao and the process for how cacao is turned into chocolate.
What I will tell you is that cacao butter and cocoa butter do not have milk or dairy. Confusing isn’t it?
The term butter, in the case of cocoa butter or cacao butter, refers to a creamy texture. Think of cacao butter or cocoa butter being similar to the term peanut butter. Peanut butter is another product that does not contain milk/dairy but has “butter” in the name.
Who came up with these terms anyway? It was not me.
Does Dark Chocolate Have Dairy?
The answer to this question should be yes, however, as always with food allergies one must remain hypervigilant. Dark chocolate is usually dairy free but is often made on shared lines with milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate is typically made with a base of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. These ingredients are all milk/dairy free. Remember, cocoa butter does not contain milk.
Some popular brands of chocolate add milk to their dark chocolate products. This makes the answer to “does dark chocolate have dairy” clear as mud. Lindt and Cadbury brands have dark chocolate products that DO contain milk/dairy.
Why does my Dairy Free Chocolate say “May Contain Milk?”
The label on your dark chocolate may say something like “dairy free.” However, there is still the chance that on that same label you will see the statement, “may contain milk.” “Why?,” you ask. This has to do with shared equipment.
Some companies will make dark chocolate on lines shared with milk chocolate. Companies may or may not have strategies in place to wash the lines and test for allergens between products.
According to the FDA, “chocolates are one of the most common sources of undeclared milk associated consumer reactions.”
That means, if you have a milk allergy and you see a statement that says “may contain milk” you need to seriously consider that milk may be present in the product. This is true even if there is a statement like “dairy free.”
The best thing to do is call the manufacturer of the product to get further information about how they handle manufacturing of their chocolate products.
Milk should be clearly labeled if it is contained in a product. However, remember, the risk for cross contamination is real and also remember that cross contamination statements are VOLUNTARY. This is all part of FALCPA.
If you aren’t familiar with FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act) please be sure to learn more about it here.
Dairy Free Dark Chocolates
Don’t make a big mistake and completely omit chocolate from your diet if you have a milk allergy. You can still enjoy dark chocolate if you have a milk allergy. I have listed a few brands of chocolate that are milk free.
Please keep in mind that products can change and that you want to do your own research before consuming any of these products.
Here is my list of the best dairy free chocolate:
Dark chocolate is typically made with a base of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar and is dairy free. However, there is still reason for concern if you have a milk allergy and want to consume dark chocolate.
Many dark chocolate products on the market may contain dairy due to shared lines with milk chocolate within manufacturing facilities.
Dark chocolate made on dairy free dedicated lines or facilities do exist. There is no need to eliminate all chocolate from your diet if you have a milk allergy.
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So what is your favorite milk free chocolate product? Leave me a comment.
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Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by Amber DeVore, RD, CSSD, CLT