How do they get away with this?


As you know, I’m extremely allergic to milk and all products derived from it. Fortunately, I learned long ago not to believe products that claim to be non-dairy. But not everyone is hip to that.

And in this era in which — and I’m very grateful for this — allergens have to be clearly pointed out on food labels, I have to wonder how a product gets away with that claim, when the evidence to the contrary is so clearly laid out.

Check this container I picked up at a local restaurant today. It blithely claims, in all-cap letters, to be “NON-DAIRY CREAMER.” smallnodairyThen, in letters that an awful lot of people my age can’t read, it acknowledges that it contains “Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative).” The image at right, by the way, is approximately the actual size.

Then, at the end, still in tiny letters (although now slightly boldfaced), it says “Contains: Milk.”


So how does it get to say “NON-DAIRY CREAMER” in much bigger letters? How does either the government or the marketplace let it get away with that? There is no way, in any rational way of looking at things, that something that “Contains: Milk” is “NON-DAIRY.” No way at all. Total contradiction.

Can anyone explain this to me?

14 thoughts on “How do they get away with this?

  1. H

    the dairy lobby is very powerful.

    The real problem is: why do we allow all this bad food–processed chemicals which are not food at all–to be so ubiquitous in our diet?

    I’m a whole grain fresh produce unprocessed food guy, myself. It’s soy milk for me, chap. (as much as soy milk is not bad food like non-dairy creamer is)

  2. Marge Lebowski

    I had the same reaction as H. When I read the thread title and then the ingredients, I thought the “getting away with it” was going to be selling a product full of so much crap and still calling it something with the word “cream” in it. I haven’t found a soy milk that dissolves properly in my coffee, but almond milk does the trick. And no hydrogenated fat to boot.

  3. H

    As New York banned transfats, US should ban partially hydrogenated oils.

    Which are not in soy or almond milk.

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    I always thought nondairy creamer had something to do with kosher–but this Pet (no less) product wouldn’t qualify. Is it a heart disease thing or something? What’s the point besides cheapness? Yuck.

    I drink black coffee if I can’t get a dairy product. It’s great, if the coffee’s good, once you get used to it.

    Look into the Bush-weakened FDA and you’ll start wanting to raise your own food.

  5. H

    Thank goodness we have an Obama FDA now. But still, all consumers should be vigilant and demanding.

  6. Jay

    It seems they can call it that because it doesn’t have lactose. Also, fat-free isn’t necessarily fat-free and non-alcoholic beer isn’t totally devoid of alcohol. So that get by on a technicality of some rule, probably. I’m sure it also makes it where they can store it for eons on a shelf, in defiance of god and nature.

  7. Bart

    Kathryn, the FDA has been the perverbial “red-headed stepchild” of every administration. Powerful lobbists from the food industry have been very successful in keeping the agency weak and ineffective. Don’t blame Bush or accuse him of weakening the agency. He did nothing different than any other president.

    The FDA has ALWAYS been underfunded, understaffed, and under-represented at the government table. It is only when something major hits the news that it receives any attention and only then until the crisis or event fades from public memory.

    Consider this. There is a certain amout of pus allowed in cow’s milk before it is processed and sent on to the market. Now, in a civilized world, why would this be allowed? A percentage of rat excrement is allowed in raw grains when it is processed into flour. Think you will ever see this on a label?

    If you want to go after anyone, try ConAgra, ADM, and the other food industry giants. Ultimately, you will find that almost ALL products you purchase at one time or another comes through one of these companies. And if you expect Obama to get tough, remember that the two giants, ConAgra and ADM are corporations in his backyard. ADM is Decatur and ConAgra in Omaha with the next largest corporate office in Naperville, Ill. Don’t look for miracles anytime soon.

    Which is too bad for American consumers. If anything needs to be totally non-political, this is one and maybe the most important of all. Ingredients in food should be clearly labeled and if the product is labeled as a “Non-Dairy” product, there should be absolutely “no” dairy product in it at all.

  8. Brad Warthen

    You would think.

    But as y’all point out, the dairy lobby is WAY more powerful than the people-who-are-extremely-allergic-to-milk lobby. When the consumer is considered, I suspect the folks who want things to be fat-free and the lactose-intolerant get in line way ahead of the allergic.

    I avoid it all by doing what Kathryn does — I drink my coffee black. Once you’re addicted enough, it tastes good, and you don’t want it adulterated with anything.

  9. Karen McLeod

    The other part of this question is “What are we willing to pay for?” To enforce even current standards takes more staff than we are currently paying. If you want to take all the rat poop out of your bread and cereals, we’re going to have to pay more people to enforce that prohibition. But you said taxes are already way too high? Hey, you get what you pay for, and currently, we’re not paying for much.

  10. Lee Muller

    If you critics of the dairy business think there is such a need for faux dairy products totally devoid of any compounds resembling the amino acids, fatty acids and sugars found in cow’s milk, why don’t you start a business and make such products? You could at the very least invest you money in such a venture.

  11. martin

    I remember when the FDA worked much better. As a little kid, I had the LIFE Magazine story – with pictures of babies with flippers instead of arms – burned into my mind. The FDA was able to save the USA from the horror of thalidomide birth defects.
    There was a time when agencies like the FDA could do the heroic, before big pharma bought off the medical business and the politicians.

  12. Bart

    I had forgotten about the thalidomide babies. I read the LIFE story too. It was awful and you are right, the FDA was responsible for preventing the same horror story in America.

    Sometimes we do need reminding about why some agencies were created and if they are still making a significant contribution or have outlived their usefulness. The FDA can and should be one of the frontline, good guy agencies, protecting the health and well being of Americans not by trying to dictate but provide sensible and diligent oversight for our food and drug supplies.

  13. Lee Muller

    martin, you need to expand beyond the image of the FDA created by government press kits.

    If you think the FDA is all science, explain why they suddenly stopped approving any drugs and medical devices under Clinton – nothing new in his first term.

    Ask yourself how the “morning after” abortion pills can be so regulated here and in Europe because of dangerous side effect, and suddenly President Obama has them being sold over counter without a prescription.

    What use is the FDA when we import foods from Red China?
    Anyone who eats anything from Communist China is taking their life in their hands.

  14. Herb Brasher

    I was at Lizard’s Thicket yesterday for breakfast, and asked the manager about this. He didn’t know either, but he did say that using these processed “non-dairy” containers kept DHEC off his back. And if we wanted half-and-half, he would bring a little pitcher of it out for us to use.

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