Whether you eat it as a dessert or as a candy you keep in your bag to savor slowly, chocolate rarely disappoints. It is an all-day, everyday kind of snack. Not forgetting the many health benefits it contains.
However, chocolate ingredients can be an uncertain topic for people with food allergies such as milk or those simply keeping away from milk and dairy products.
So, is chocolate dairy-free? Can you eat chocolate if you are lactose intolerant?
Are all chocolates forbidden in a dairy-free diet? After careful research, we sought to find all the answers to your questions concerning chocolate and dairy. Here is what we found out.
Chocolate is not considered dairy as it does not come from milk. Pure chocolate comes from the cacao bean, making it dairy-free and vegan. However, different types of commercial chocolate may contain milk and milk products, making them unsuitable for dairy-free diets.
Does Chocolate Always Have Dairy?
Before answering this question, it is important first to understand what chocolate is.
True or pure chocolate is an edible product sourced from the cacao bean originally grown in the Amazon.
From the bean comes cocoa mass and cocoa butter extracts which are the actual contents of true chocolate.
Therefore, original pure chocolate does not contain any milk or is made from milk. It is a plant-based product that is 100% dairy-free.
However, commercial companies have come up with different types and variations of chocolate by adding several ingredients to pure chocolate, including milk, nuts, sugar, vanilla, and even spices.
As a result, some chocolates do contain milk and dairy products such as butter and cream. Still, chocolate is not dairy.
Some common types of chocolate are dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate.
Does Milk Chocolate Have Dairy in It?
Yes. As its name suggests, milk chocolate generally has dairy in it.
Milk chocolate (not to be confused with white chocolate), simply put, is dark chocolate with added milk.
Companies add milk (as liquid milk, powder, cream, or butter) to pure chocolate to improve its taste and texture. Milk chocolates are softer and sweeter than dark chocolate, which can be intense in taste.
Most commercial chocolates in stores are milk chocolates.
White chocolate, on the other hand, comes from cocoa butter as opposed to cocoa mass which produces dark chocolate. Most white chocolate also contains milk, sugar, and other additives.
NB: Some brands produce milk chocolate from alternative milk such as oat and soy milk, making said milk chocolate dairy-free.
Does Dark Chocolate Have Dairy in It?
Dark chocolate should not have dairy in it. That said, it is important to note that some brand companies add a small percentage of milk, or milk products, to dark chocolate and call it ‘dark milk chocolate.’
Real dark chocolate should only contain cocoa mass/liquor and sugar.
You may find some chocolate wraps having a ‘may contain milk’ label, without milk listed in the ingredients.
Such chocolates may indeed be true dark chocolates but produced in the same line as milk chocolates and other milk-containing foods, thus containing unwanted traces of milk.
Occasional accidental contamination occurs from improper cleaning of the manufacturing of the factory equipment or even during the transportation and unloading of the raw ingredients.
Alter Eco, Cocoa Parlor, Dandelion Chocolate, and Endangered Species are some brands that produce completely dairy-free dark chocolate.
Does Semi-sweet Chocolate Have Dairy in It?
Semi-sweet chocolate is also a variation of dark chocolate. Its only difference is that it contains a higher (not more than 50%) sugar.
Dark chocolate often has very little sugar or sweeteners added to it and may even be considered bitter chocolate. Not everyone enjoys this magnified cocoa taste, making semi-sweet chocolate a great alternative.
Semi-sweet chocolate does not contain dairy, but contamination may occur during production, so it is important to always check labels before buying your chocolate.
What Chocolate Has the Least Dairy?
Dark chocolate contains no dairy and is thus the best dairy-free chocolate.
Dark milk chocolate contains the least amount of dairy compared to milk and white chocolates.
What Chocolate is Dairy Free?
True and dark chocolate are completely dairy-free. They only contain the basic cocoa mass and cocoa butter with added flavors.
Recently, many brands have come up with milk alternatives for making milk chocolate, so it isn’t unusual to find milk chocolate that is dairy-free.
Coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk are some of the common alternatives used to make dairy-free milk chocolates. Endangered Species Oat Milk Chocolate is a great example of alternative milk chocolate.
So Should You Eat Chocolate on a Dairy-Free Diet?
If you are strictly dairy-free, you can still enjoy chocolate without worry or guilt. You have to know what brands make dairy-free chocolate and stick to them.
Most dark chocolate, despite the brand name, is dairy free. However, it is always important to read through the labels to be sure.
Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulates that all chocolate manufacturers correctly and clearly state when milk or milk products are present in their chocolates.
Can Chocolate Affect Lactose Intolerant People?
The answer to this question is complex since lactose intolerance presents differently in individuals.
Some lactose intolerant people can only consume milk in its raw and singular form but can take dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, and even chocolate milk.
The best way to find out what foods work or not for lactose-intolerant people is through the process of elimination. Since they all get triggered by different milk-containing foods.
With that in mind, it is always best to be safe than sorry. So, if you have lactose intolerance, you can avoid milk chocolates and stick to true or dark chocolates. You can also opt for alternative milk chocolates.
Read Also: Is Butter a Dairy Product? Is It Lactose-Free?
Where to Buy the Best Dairy Free Chocolate
Due to the recent rise in food awareness, more and more brands make diet-specific foods for all preferences. Dairy-free chocolate is no different.
The best places to buy dairy-free chocolate would be through online stores of dairy-free chocolate-making brands. You can also check this online chocolate store for various dairy-free chocolate options.