Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Warning: Vegans may contain milk!

This is a bit of a messy picture but just about sums up a recent morning I had! 

Yes, the cakes burned in the oven and I resorted to 'shaving' them!

It should have been a lovely start to the day - I planned to bake with 'Baby'. Nothing special, as I had plenty of other stuff I needed to do, so it was just a quick Hale & Hearty (gluten free) chocolate muffin mix. Made with dairy free margarine, they are usually 'fail-safe' mixes, for me.

All was going well, until I suddenly came to the realisation that a nasty smell was emanating from my daughter and it was an unmistakeably pooey one. In the middle of mixing everything together, I hurried 'Baby' along, shoved the muffins into the oven and whisked her upstairs for a nappy change. 

Unfortunately, the delay was my downfall, her nappy had leaked and it soon became apparent that a bath was in order. Hence my cakes burned and had to be shaved - resulting in the mess above.

It didn't take me long to work out what was behind this disastrous nappy. The day before, whilst out in town, I'd noticed a product in the health food shop that I had heard about via Twitter. Marketed as 'Vegan' and 'Dairy Free', I believed it to be milk free and therefore 'safe,' so I neglected to read the ingredients until 'Baby' was someway through.

Aaagghh!!!! I couldn't believe it what I saw! 'May contain milk!

Fortunately, for us, 'Baby' does not have anaphylactic reactions to milk. So I knew that if it did contain milk it was not going to be fatal for her, 'just' uncomfortable. Even more fortunately for us, she does not react as immediately, (or as violently) as she used to, Nonetheless, we don't like seeing her suffer the consequences of ingesting milk accidentally.

Now, I accept it is my own fault - I should always check, BUT I was under the (obviously somewhat mistaken) impression that as Vegans are opposed to the consumption of animal products (including milk), 'Vegan' products were a pretty safe bet for my dairy free 'Baby'. 

Increasingly, I'm becoming aware that this is a bit of a grey area. Some products purporting to be Vegan carry the May contain... catch-all statement and it appears that there are Vegans who seem happy to take their chance with such products. If this is you, I'm not 'having a go,' honest, but I'd like to suggest that you are consuming more milk than you realise. If that's not a problem for you, then fine, but for us...

'Baby' (who has rather a sensitive little tummy) tends (as on this occasion) to react to these products more often than not - the only two that seem to be happy exceptions to this rule, are Betty Crocker ready made icing and Hotel Chocolat 'Vegan' chocolates. Knowing that some people are even more sensitive than 'Baby' to milk traces, I am prepared to accept that others may choose to disagree and still avoid these products too. So you may well wish to reconsider which products you buy.

If you're a manufacturer of goods and resorting to this, May contain... warning,  then I'd like to suggest that you consider testing your products to make sure. You may actually make more sales this way - if people know they can trust what you say, 'on the tin' as it were. 

As for me, I'm going to continue to do my best to avoid any more products that may contain and that means reading the labels more carefully in future - including products that claim to be 'dairy free'!! 

Postscript: Funnily enough, just as I was in the middle of writing this post (they take me ages, these days - 'Baby' does not give me much time to myself), I discovered that another allergy mum was writing a similar post about 'May contain...' warnings relating to nuts. Come on food manufacturers, do us a favour.... please???

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.


  1. You will never get away from the "may contain" labels if manufacturers are producing more than one product line in their factories. Also if they buy ingredients from elsewhere and they can't guarantee trace elements for whatever reason. Did you see the nut warning I uploaded to twitter? Check my pics. It's a legal get out clause which we are all faced with whether we are Vegan or have other reason to avoid an ingredient.

    1. No, I'm afraid I missed your post - have missed a lot, as I've been occupied with moving and stuff. I know allergen label relate to manufacturing methods BUT think a product which is always marketed as 'dairy free' should be a little more honest/transparent.

  2. Wonderful posts as always : ) just though I'd let you know about a bottle of wine that we were given a few week ago - who would have thought that it 'may contain milk'???? has the world gone mad, how can the manufacture of food taken such weird turnings - and don't get me started on the 'ingredients may contain nuts' get out of the century, it makes me fume every time I see it! there rant over : ) back to making things from scratch, even wine!

    1. Hey Sian!

      Thank you, you are so encouraging! I think I had heard that some wine contains casein, but I believe you can get some wines that are Vegan (I'm hoping that means dairy free). I hear that the thing to do is to look for products that are specifically approved by The Vegan Society. But yes, nuts are a real issue for many. Making things from scratch - way to go girl. You rock!!


  3. This is a bit of a bugbear of mine too! I get all excited because I find a vegan white chocolate, only to discover it says "may contain...". Surely vegan's can't be that happy with this either? If you have decided not to eat animal products in any form you surely don't want it sneaking in the back door in your chocolate/ fudge etc! The vegan one nearly caught me out before and I'm ultra careful now.
    So I've even resorted to home made white chocolate!
    Hope baby is okay?

    1. Wow! Making homemade white chocolate! I'm impressed!

      Thank you, Kristina, fortunately 'Baby' doesn't react anywhere as quickly or as severely as she used to, and it was probably a very tiny trace, so the pooey nappy was about the worst of it, but because I had some too (and am still b'feeding her a bit)she had another the following day. We live and learn!!