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How can I tell if a food contains lactose?

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The Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods is the best way to find out if a food contains lactose.

Milk and milk products contain lactose naturally.

People who are highly sensitive to lactose should also be aware of these less-common sources of lactose1:

  • Baking mixes, used for pancakes, biscuits, and cookies
  • Bread and other baked goods
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Candies and other snacks
  • Instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
  • Lunch meats (other than kosher)
  • Margarine
  • Powdered meal-replacement supplements
  • Salad dressings
  • Some "nondairy" powdered coffee creamers and whipped toppings
  • Some prescription and over-the-counter medicines

To see if a product has lactose, check the Nutrition Facts label for these terms:

  • Dry milk solids
  • Lactose
  • Milk
  • Milk by-products
  • Nonfat dry milk powder
  • Whey

  1. American Gastroenterological Association. (2010). Understanding food allergies and intolerances. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://www.gastro.org/patient-center/diet-medications/food-allergies-fructose-intolerance-and-lactose-intolerance External Web Site Policy [top]

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012
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