We’ve all heard of lactic acid. It’s present in our bodies when we work out and as the name suggests, it’s an acid that builds up in the body during intense bouts of physical activity. However, it is also often found in many different food stuffs including milk products, like yoghurt, as well as some processed foods such as olives, bread and beer.
To confuse matters further it can occur naturally in these food products so when you buy olives and lactic acid is listed as an ingredient it might not be lactic acid from dairy. It might be from the food acid, naturally found in olives that is produced during the fermentation process, similar to what happens when you make wine.
But how do we know which is which? When you have allergies you get used to scanning labels and spotting the ingredients that you can’t have, but is it really safe to ignore labels which say lactic acid when we see them on olives, or beer, which also ferments for that matter?
Whilst researching this I’ve unearthed some very conflicting results. Some websites say lactic acid is dairy free, some say it’s potentially dairy free as it can be prepared with milk as the initial growth medium, and some say that it should definitely be avoided by those with a dairy allergy.
On the Go Dairy Free website they say that: “Lactic acid is created via the fermentation of sugars, and can be found in many dairy-free and/or vegan foods. Most commercially used lactic acid is fermented from carbohydrates, such as cornstarch, potatoes or molasses, and thus dairy-free. Though lactic acid can be fermented from lactose, its use is generally (I said generally; where concerned, always check with the manufacturer) restricted to dairy products, such as ice cream and cream cheese.”
They have a very concise list of what to avoid and also some surprisingly dairy free ingredients which sound very much like they contain dairy from their name. Visit www.godairyfree.org for their exhaustive list.
Now I’m really confused. Can anyone shed any light on this subject? Should those with a dairy allergy avoid lactic acid? or is it a little more complicated than that? Should we always check with the manufacturer before eating products containing lactic acid? Does the law mean that if lactic acid is derived from dairy that this should be stated in the ingredients?
Have I been avoiding lactic acid needlessly for all these years? All comments and feedback on this one would be greatly appreciated as I will be rushing back out to buy those olives I put back on the shelf last week…