Thursday, 25 July 2013

Warning! This jam contains milk!

'Dairy free shopping means checking the food labels on every food product you purchase (even if you have bought the product before, as recipes and ingredients can change) and being aware of all the ways that milk might be referred to on these labels.'

This is what I wrote about a year ago, on one of my earlier posts - Shopping Around. Shame I didn't pay more attention to my own advice!

I wrote this following the discovery that milk hid in all kinds of strange guises and in all kinds of strange places - like chicken gravy, like sauces made from tomato*, toiletries and the like. So I should have, perhaps have been more careful, but after a while, I suppose I've become a bit blase and careless - after all I thought I was pretty clued-up about what was safe or not, by now.

BUT it was today (as I was scraping out the last scrap of jam from the jar) I noticed the following words: 'ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains Milk'

'Eeeeek!' I thought. 'Surely not!' But, there it was, and the following: 'Processing aid: Unsalted butter'.

I was absolutely flabbergasted.

I've loved and eaten jam all my life. My Dad has made his own jam (from home-grown fruit) pretty much all my life. NEVER would I have suspected that jam might contain milk. 

'Why on earth would it?' I thought, genuinely puzzled. My Dad only ever used three ingredients in his - fruit, sugar and water. That's it!

I know that others of you, have shared my astonishment, but Veronica, (obviously a cannier woman than I am) shared on Face Book that butter is often used - to stop jam from foaming as it cooks. She, however, uses olive oil instead. 

'Well I never!' thought I. There was obviously a gap in my culinary knowledge (there are many, it has to be said).

Then I realised why I never knew - Dad never bothered with anything like that. He always skimmed the foam off the top of the jam and deposited it on a saucer. It was from this saucer that we always got our first taste of his freshly-made jam. I actually loved this foamy first fruit of my Dad's labours, but obviously others don't!

Now the jar of the jam that I noticed today looks like this:

Contains milk! Who'd have thought??
I wouldn't normally show you one that was not dairy free, in case it caused confusion. But in this case I have made an exception, because I believe it is an exception. I honestly can't remember where it came from, Looking at the label, I think it may have been bought from a Farm Shop.

However, this jar of jam, that I bought this afternoon, is safe.

No milk added to this one!
It only contains the following: strawberries, sugar, cane sugar, lemon juice and pectin. Phew!

Having perused the jars of most makes of strawberry jam in the supermarket aisles this afternoon, I have come to the conclusion that the only reason that the other jam IS made with butter is that it is a posher brand than I would normally buy. I only bought it as I ran out of my supply of Dad's homemade jam and looked for something more expensive (so that it wouldn't taste so artificial, although, to be honest, it's still never as good as the home made stuff). 

Why do I say that - that it's probably because it's more expensive? Because it seems to follow that many products that are cheaper are made with vegetable oils rather than milk - dairy products are more expensive. Supermarket own-brand biscuits are a case in point. So, for example, 'Baby' can have Waitrose own-brand chocolate Bourbon biscuits, as they're not made with milk.

So there it is. Jam may contain milk. It may explain 'Baby's' unexplained tummy aches, that she's had recently *guilt trip*, *guilt trip* (my fault). From now on, it seems I shall have to check jam jars in the supermarket too, although, actually, 'Baby' prefers honey on her toast. 

Now, there's no chance of there being any milk in honey, is there??

Oh yes! I just have to ask, what other products (that you'd never have suspected) have you discovered, that may contain milk??

Please note: More information on Food Allergy Labelling can be located on the Food Standards Agency website. The following link is particularly important as it outlines the new rules regarding food labelling that are soon to become law in the UK. These rules apply to food bought in shops as well as food sold in restaurants. I really recommend familiarising yourself with the changes, especially if you are 'gluten free' as this labelling will disappear. PLUS I discovered that the FDA thinks 'May contain...' warnings should be taken seriously!! Now why has no-one ever warned us of this before? 'May' just doesn't sound urgent enough. Personally, I think it needs to be proceeded with something along the lines of 'Warning!'

NB For anyone who was wondering: Tomato-based sauces are often made with milk, as the milk cuts the acidity. Carrots can be used instead. I have Nigella Lawson to thank for this tit-bit of information (Twitter)!!

Update 2015: 

Other unexpected places you might find milk:

Ecover Washing up liquid (not the pomegranate one)
Some wine (used for clarification)
Some paints, chalk (look out for casein)
Noilly Prat