How many food products in the shops these days are accidentally dairy or gluten free, or both? By ‘accidentally’ I mean bog-standard every-day products which aren’t trying to be free-from. What sort of selection is there available without including the growing number of free-from products that are on the shelves? A recent trip to Marks & Spencer reminded me of a few such products, which aren’t advertised as being dairy free, but that blissfully, don’t contain contain the innocent little white ingredient.
The first, which I have blogged about before, is the Crispy Lemon Chicken. These are whole battered mini chicken fillets with a fresh and tangy lemon sauce. The allergy information says contains: wheat, gluten, sesame.
In fact M&S has a Chinese take-out selection where many of the options are dairy free so do check the labels. They also do a Sticky Chilli Chicken and Beef in Black Bean Sauce which are also dairy free. Neither are gluten free unfortunately. I do struggle with M&S food, and indeed with most ready meals, because if they don’t contain dairy they invariably do contain tomato or tomato purée and/or celery so they’re out for me. Generally I cook from fresh but when your kitchen is in boxes and builders are creating layer upon layer of fresh dust on a daily basis cooking takes a bit of a back seat.
However, other M&S products which are accidentally dairy free are some of their standard biscuits.
Marks & Spencer digestive biscuits ingredients: Wheatflour, palm oil, sugar, wholemeal wheatflour, golden syrup, baking powder (raising agent: Sodium bicarbonate, E450, E503), malted barley extract, salt.
Allergy information: CONTAINS wheat, barley and gluten
Marks & Spencer Ginger Snaps
Their ginger biscuits are also dairy free – as, I believe, are Tesco’s.
Ingredients: wheatflour, sugar, golden syrup, palm oil, ground ginger, baking powder (raising agent: sodium bicarbonate, E450, E503), salt, emulsifier: soya lecithin, flavouring.
Allergy information: CONTAINS: Soya, wheat, gluten.
Not suitable for NUT allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods used.
I’m not sure why the ginger biscuits carry a nut warning, whilst the digestive biscuits do not, so I’ll ask M&S to comment about this and explain why.
It’s a shame that more run-of-the-mill normal products can’t be naturally or accidentally free-from. Often dairy is added, not as a main ingredient, but as a powder to help bind flavours and often for no reason that I can see at all. Flavoured crisps for instance seem to contain huge lists of ingredients, and nearly always dairy and tomato. Sticking to plain crisps is usually your safest bet.
I thought I’d add in the response I got from M&S about their biscuits and crisps. I’m not convinced their labelling really reflects these issues. See what you think…
“I can confirm our digestive biscuits do not contain any dairy ingredients, however they have been produced on a line handling milk so we cannot guarantee they are completely dairy free.
Our digestive biscuits are free from nuts. Our ginger snaps also do not contain nuts, however with this item there is possible cross contamination due to factory processes, so we cannot state these are nut free.
The reason for us stating our flavoured crisps have a warning stating they are not suitable for cow’s milk, soya, wheat and gluten allergy sufferers is again due to possible cross contamination from factory processes, as these crisps are produced on a line handling milk, soya, wheat and gluten.
I can confirm our plain crisps do not contain dairy or nuts, however they are produced on a line handling milk so we cannot state they are suitable for people with dairy allergies because there is a slight risk of cross contamination. “
Thankyou Ruth, very interesting indeed – especially when some M&S products (such as the bread and Percy pigs) say they are produced on a line handling milk…and the digestives do not say this.
A few other products that do not contain milk or egg in M&S include the spaghetti bolognaise, the chilli con carne, and 3 of their tubs of fresh soups – all of which are very nice and make a lovely hot lunch!