When looking at menu items or food packaging you might see dairy free items and lactose free items (or milk free in some cases). So you’re probably asking yourself:
Are Dairy Free and Lactose Free the same thing?
The simple answer is no – dairy free and lactose free are not the same thing. However all dairy free items will be lactose free. When understanding, is dairy free the same as lactose free? We need to understand what each term means.
Dairy free items are free of any milk from an animal (cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk etc)
Lactose free items are free from the lactose sugar. This may be because it has been removed from a product that would normally contain this sugar. (Lactose free milk, or lactaid products in the US which remove the lactose using lactase) or it may have aged and matured and now be lactose free (mature Cheddar, Parmesan etc). Use our guide on how to check if a cheese contains lactose. If you are allergic to milk, you will still want to avoid lactose free products.
Dairy free items are not all vegan. Eggs are not dairy, therefore an item can be dairy free but not vegan.
All vegan items will be both dairy free and lactose free. (as well as free from other animal products like eggs)
Are Dairy free, vegan, lactose free, milk free the same as gluten free?
No, this is a completely separate issue and if an item is labelled as any of the above it will have nothing to do with its gluten content.