Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Why we're all stirred up about... The Coconut Collaborative 'Dairy Free' Yoghurt

Cue drum roll!!

Ta da!

Here it is, the long-awaited Coconut Collaborative, coconut-based dairy and soya free yoghurt.

'Woo hoo!' Thought I, when first I heard, 'another string to the dairy free, soya free bow!'

Ta da!

Whaddya think, then?

Must admit, it's a real departure for the firm behind this yoghurt. Originally known as Bessant and Drury, I first came across this company at the Allergy Show and immediately fell in love with their ice cream, which I reviewed here. I particularly loved their packaging, which really seemed so much better than most free from branding. Just recently, Bessant and Drury have rebranded themselves as The Coconut Collaborative, complete with a groovy new website, see here. I love the look of the website, but so far it's pretty light on information - you'll find out more by looking at their Face Book page. 

As for the re-branded packaging, it's no doubt funky and groovy, I'm not so in love with their new packaging, but you can't judge a book by it's cover, so let's move on!

The yoghurt retails at £1.49 for a 120g pot, in some branches of Waitrose. The list of stores can be found on their Face Book page

The Waitrose I visited sold two flavours: natural and natural with a raspberry compote. There are two other flavours, one which comes with a packet of berries and seeds and the other with a compote of mango and passionfruit.

The yoghurts come in a plain pot, which is about the right size for a lunchbox. They are completely plain - all the decorative element is in the cardboard sleeve.

The Natural

Live coconut milk: coconut milk (96%), natural thickeners (starch,tara gum), water, selected dairy-free cultures.

This yoghurt is smooth, thick and creamy in consistency - in fact so thick that you can pretty much stand your spoon up in it. Like all natural yoghurts it has a certain tartness to it. It is certainly an acceptable alternative to natural dairy yoghurt. For this reason, it may be suited more to adult tastes.

Thick and creamy

Personally, although I love natural yoghurt, perhaps because of the thickness, I found one whole pot a bit much for me. The rest ended up going back in the fridge for later!

As for the other...

The Raspberry

Live coconut milk: coconut milk (96%), natural thickeners (starch,tara gum), water, selected dairy-free cultures. Raspberry compote: raspberry (19%), grape extract, water, corn flour, raspberry juice concentrate (2%) citric acid, natural colour (anthocyanins, from grapes).

As you can see, the yoghurt and compote come in two distinct layers.


It didn't stay that way for long! 'Baby' couldn't wait to open up the pot and give it all a good stir!

Stirred up!

Just before she did get her spoon in, I did just about manage to get a spoon in edge ways and give 'Baby' a quick taste of the top layer, but she wasn't too keen. She much preferred it with the raspberry all mixed in... that was until she realised there were pips in it! 

'Baby' doesn't like 'pipsies'!

Brought up on my Dad's home made jam, pips don't bother me! So maybe this is another one for me, then!

In fact I must admit, for someone whose favourite yoghurt used to be Muller Fruit Corners, the raspberry added a lovely flavour to the yoghurt. I really loved it! 

In fact, I demolished the whole of the rest of the pot in one go!

The packaging states that it is 'dairy free'

Will I be buying it again? 

Well, it's still a lot more expensive than 'normal' yoghurt, so it wouldn't be a regular purchase, especially as I had to go out of my way and make a special trip to buy it. I can get Co-yo yoghurt much more easily from Ocado and from my local health food store.


More importantly, the packaging states boldly on the front that it is dairy free. In fact it states it on the top too!

BUT, in smaller writing, near the ingredients, well, actually nearer their contact details, to be precise, I note a small statement:

'Allergy advice: Made in a factory that uses dairy ingredients.'

'Oh! Hang on!' I gasped, when I spotted this, 'wait a minute! I thought you said 'dairy free'?????'

You may be surprised, and I was, but now I've thought about it, I am now not so surprised, although I am certainly disappointed. 

To put it in context, I suddenly remembered that the brand that created this yoghurt was originally created by people who were concerned with natural healthy alternatives, rather than allergies. 

Now I don't know where you stand on this, but personally if some thing says 'free' boldly all over it, then I expect it to be absolutely free. I think it is mis-leading to later add in small print a statement that says that it might not be as dairy free as I thought!

After all, as I have a little one who is, or certainly has been (we really need to conduct another controlled challenge, I think), susceptible to the slightest traces, I need to be careful and would not have bought it, had I known.

What I am is confused! I was under the impression (from something I was told, a while back) that 'dairy free' is a legal statement.

I'm also confused - as I'm not sure just how dairy free this yoghurt is now. It's something I need to check out, especially as 'Baby' is susceptible to the tiniest traces, and she did have a bit of tummy ache, a little while after her taster... when I say a 'bit' I mean painful enough for her to make a fuss about it, in the way that she does when she has mistakenly been given something that 'may contain'.

Was it a taste of dairy?? I can't be 100% sure, BUT I will not be taking the risk again, as I am pretty certain. There was no other likely cause of her having a tummy ache that day.

They claim their equipment is cleaned and the product batch-tested, BUT I know that not all parts of machinery can be cleaned as thoroughly because they are in hard to reach places. AND allergenic proteins are notoriously sticky!

I am also aware of a few other people who have reactions to another product that claims that it is safe because it is batch-tested, so I am not convinced of the thoroughness of batch-testing - especially as only a tiny amount of a batch is tested.

Something else, of which to be aware is that although there are a lot of claims on the sleeve of the yoghurt, regarding the health benefits of coconuts, I am aware of at least one dietitian who has cautioned against eating too much coconut based yoghurt. 

Despite all the 'healthy fat' claims of people who love the properties of coconut, it does contain a lot of saturated fat. I have been advised to partake sparingly. So it may not be as healthy as we thought.

Also, please note, that unlike some other dairy free yogurts, it does not have any added calcium, so it will not provide a great deal of your daily calcium requirements - except perhaps a little from any 'added nuts'.

Let's be clear - I'm not saying don't eat it...   

Just be careful, is all I'm saying...

Update July 2014:

The Coconut Collaborative are still assertively marketing their product as 'dairy free' despite the cautionary note about the factory. They say (sic):

feedback welcomed. Let us host you at our producers you will 100% be reassured as all our retailers are.

For those of you who are aware that since I wrote this post, 'Baby' has been undergoing a 'baked milk challenge,' I still would not buy her this yogurt. Anyone who has seen a copy of the Milk Ladder which covers the reintroduction of milk will know that baked milk is safer than unbaked milk and that the dose and length of time the milk is baked also has a bearing on how well tolerated the milk may be.

In fact, on a similar thread, I was interested to hear from registered Dietitian, Julia Marriott (@AlimentaryBites on Twitter) that if a product is not heated above 180 degrees, then it is not suitable for anyone undergoing a baked milk challenge. This information was provided in relation to a conversation on Twitter regarding ice lollies with 'may contain' warnings.

Update November 2014:

Interesting article about food allergy labelling and traceable amounts of allergens detected in foods here: Do foods with precautionary labels really contain allergens?

The above article was based on this report by the FSA: Survey on 'May Contain' labelling

Stay safe and be well!

Related Posts:

Wot no dairy! Wot no soya!

Xotic - another dairy and soya free yoghurt

Heaven in a mouthful - Co-yo Coconut Yoghurt

Are you getting enough... calcium??

Getting enough... Vitamin D for you and me!

1 comment:

  1. Different food but same subject: My hairdresser is celiac and bought 3 expensive 'wheat free' products from different brands only to have a bad reaction to all three. She realised they said in tiny letterring 'made in a factory which handles wheat.' What is the point if they don't take it seriously and there isn't stricter laws about alergey claims. Otherwise it's just a gamble with every snack/meal?!