Late last year I received some gluten-free baking mixes from Bumbalooza to review. I asked if they were also soy-free, dairy-free, and egg-free – and the answer was yes – some mixes required these as add-ins, but the mixes did not contain any of those ingredients or nuts.
I (finally) tried one this week. I should mention that these mixes look like a lot of fun – with names like Cookies and Cream Cake Mix – and the boxes even have activities inside for the kids:
The way this particular mix was designed required you to beat the eggs into soft peaks, but I wasn’t deterred. I substituted flaxseed eggs for eggs, So Delicious coconut creamer for yogurt, and Earth Balance shortening for butter. Instead of milk I used more coconut creamer. And, instead of making the cupcakes in layers as suggested, I mixed all of the ingredients together. I even added some mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, for good measure. I was rather proud of myself for creating a cupcake that did taste like cookies and cream:
And then I noticed this. Although the side of the box says “no dairy:”
The ingredients list contains “organic dried milk powder:”
I immediately shipped off a note to the vendor to get clarification, and have received no response. Nevertheless, I must assume that the mix itself (not just the add-ins) contain milk.
And there lies the problem with the use of the word dairy. The term is commonly used to refer to all products that come from cow’s milk – including butter, cream, yogurt, and milk. But there is no official guidance of the use of the word by the FDA. The FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act) requires that the term milk be used on product labels that contain milk or any product derived from cow’s milk. And when an allergist diagnoses a dairy allergy, the patient is generally told they are allergic to “milk.”
But the term milk is confusing in it’s own right. We use the term to refer to non-dairy products – soy milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, etc. – and not everyone (especially restaurant staff) is cognizant that “milk” includes more than what we drink or put on cereal.
Luckily, my son wasn’t home when I made these cupcakes – crisis averted. But this is a reminder that we must always read the detailed ingredients labels and we can never be too clear about the foods we need to avoid.