Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Dairy Alternative that Wasn't....

I blogged about our ER visit which followed our experience with some dairy-alternative rice cheese made by Galaxy Foods.

At our health food store hubby bought some rice cheese shreds thinking that they would be fine since we had used some rice cheese in the past.  He glanced over the packaging and noted that not only was it a dairy alternative, it was soy free!  This is exciting because most milk free cheeses are from soy and many dairy alternatives are soy-based or contain soy.  So this one was dairy and soy free!

Wrong!  This "dairy alternative" contains dairy-in the form of casein which is a milk protein.  Most allergies are triggered by food proteins, so allergic individuals have to steer clear of any food that contains the protein structure of one of their allergic foods.  In the ingredient list the product does list casein and notes that it is a milk protein.  However, below the ingredients list, the product does not have the familiar "Product Contains: Milk" labeling that we always check for.

The lesson here is, never trust the packaging and always read the labels.  However, could they have been any more misleading on the front packaging of their product by declaring it a dairy-alternative?  I think not.

The company does manufacture one product-rice VEGAN cheese-that does not have casein.  Bee should be able to eat their Rice Vegan cheese.

I decided to call them and let them know that their packaging was misleading and confusing.  The representative informed me that the product is a dairy-alternative in that it does not contain lactose and is lactose free for individuals who are lactose intolerant.  That's fine.  The product should be labeled as lactose free in bold letters across the front-not as a dairy-alternative.  If you look for a dairy-alternative, you want it to NOT contain dairy.  That's only logical right?

So, not all rice cheeses are created equal and many are unsafe for allergic individuals.  The companies don't help clarify the confusing array of choices with their misleading labels.  And the kicker?  After expressing my frustration to the representative and urging the company to consider different, more clearly-labelled packaging, she asked if I wanted a coupon.  No thank you!  I don't think I will be buying any product from this company.  Saving 75 cents on a product that put Bee into anaphylactic shock and resulted in one horrible and scary day (and a $5,000 ER bill) is not really cost effective.


Anonymous said...

They do make a vegan version of that cheese that my milk, peanut, and coconut allergic daughter eats.

Lexi said...

Yes, thank you. In my post I mentioned their vegan version.
My point in my post is that the labels are not clear and it's difficult to know which one is the safe version since the casein version clearly states "dairy alternative." I find that to be very misleading and dangerous. And I will never buy that brand again - vegan option or not.

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