Living dairy free (only) has honestly never been easier… maybe. When we first landed in the world of dairy free (over 15 years ago), there were so few options, and not much tasted good. These days, the food industry is taking notice of the growing market (especially because it overlaps with the vegan diet) and products are coming out very regularly.
It is important to say this upfront:
Anything that replaces actual milk will always contain a major allergen. With that in mind, this is a guide focused solely on dairy free. I literally know of ONE specific product that breaks this trend. Additionally, items meant to replace dairy based products can come with a long list of ingredients you may not be fond of.
While the latter has improved vastly, you’ll need to navigate your dairy free journey carefully. I can’t suggest the Spokin App enough. They have created a great database for people with food allergies, as well as user reviews.
Shared Equipment With Dairy
You may find some MAJOR brands missing from a category. Why? Because we’ve talked to them and learned that their items are made on shared equipment with dairy. We take the personal stance that to be free from an allergen, the equipment needs to be free from as well.
Honestly, when putting together this guide, I was devastated to learn about how much dairy free food was made on shared equipment with dairy. Like most people, I had foolishly trusted labels. Every time this happens, I promise myself I won’t fall for the trap again, and I usually don’t.
Does A Shared Facility Matter?
Maybe. It depends on your level of sensitivity. For some people, the particulates in the air alone are a problem and they have to source food that’s made in a dedicated free-from facility.
In the case of our allergy kid, now that he’s much older, he has decided he will eat food that’s made in a shared facility, so long as it’s dedicated equipment. Each person will have to make that decision for themselves.
What does good labeling look like?
Zego Foods has developed the T-Code for companies to use. It’s an easy way to put info on the label, and users scan the code with their phone. Both Banza and Simple Mills have fantastic allergen charts on their websites (found in the FAQ).
Another fantastic option I’ve seen a few companies using is something like this directly on the product label:
- Allergens in product: xyz
- Allergens on equipment: xyz
- Allergens in facility: xyz
This labeling is so wonderful because it closes the gap and eliminates the need to make a lot of phone calls. When a company writes “made in a shared facility with xyz” that could mean anything. It doesn’t tell consumers about the equipment, size of the facility, white zones, etc. At least this way, those who can/can’t do shared equipment have a much better starting point.
We Recognize That No Two People Are The Same
Some of you may be able to tolerate trace amounts of dairy, so we encourage you to reach out to companies. Call and learn all that you can and make an informed decision based on your needs. We’ve made a place at the end of this article for companies made on shared equipment, and I’ve also included notes where applicable.
The Double Asterisk **
The ** indicates that we have reached out several times and have yet to hear back from this company. We don’t know if the items are made on shared equipment with dairy. Good luck reaching them.
Dairy Free Butter
- Earth Balance (the food service 30 lb box is top 8 free) We are unable to confirm any other product at this time.
- Fora Butter
- Melt (no experience with this brand, but don’t love their stance on soy allergy)
- Milkadamia (have heard good things)
- Miyoko’s (have heard good things)
Dairy Free Candies
- Free 2 Be
- No Whey Chocolate
Dairy Free Cheese
What’s promising in this category are the new international players that are trying to get US distribution. Fingers crossed!
- Daiya (new parent company may not sit well with ethical vegans)
- Follow Your Heart (shreds only)
- Kite Hill (clean ingredients)
- Miyoko’s (has a very adult taste, clean ingredients)
Dairy Free Chocolate
- Coracacao Confections (contains nuts)
- Enjoy Life Foods (call to confirm facility and equipment)
- Equal Exchange (only the chocolate chip product, it’s made in a top 8 free facility)
- Pascha Chocolate (also has corn free options)
Dairy Free Cream Cheese
- Kite Hill
Dairy Free Ice Cream
Be cautious of brands that produce both dairy and dairy free ice cream. 99% of the time it’s shared equipment. We know of one (popsicle) brand that has separate equipment.
- Beckon (lactose free only, but Karlton says it tastes amazing)
- Cado Ice Cream (equipment is DF, facility is not)
- Green Girl as of 7/21/2019 lot code, they are now in their own dedicated facility and preparing their website for shipping. (contains coconut)
- Nana Creme (top 8 free and dedicated facility)
- Rice Dream
Dairy Free Milk
- Almond/Rice Dream
- Eden Foods (soy milk)
- Forager Project**
- Hope & Sesame
- Malk Organics**
- New Barn Organics**
Dairy Free Yogurt
- Coconut Cult**
- Follow Your Heart
- Forager Project**
- Harmless Harvest**
- Kite Hill
Brands Producing Non-Dairy Items on Shared Equipment with Dairy
For this section I’m choosing the term non-dairy, as there’s no guarantee it’s truly dairy free. This list only includes brands that were honest, upfront, transparent, and straightforward. Most of the people we spoke with seemed very committed to the safety of the food allergy community. Anyone that seemed suspicious or gave us a hard time were not included. If you can’t be transparent, you can’t be trusted.
For each of these brands, there are allergy cleaning programs in place. However, that doesn’t mean you should inherently trust them with your life. No system is perfect (not trying to scare you, only inform you). If you’d like to trust a brand, ask them how often the equipment/product has failed testing, and research their recalls due to allergen exposure.
- Vio Life (cheese, part of the process exposes the products to possible cross contamination with dairy)
- Daiya (ice cream bars only)
- Coconut Bliss (ice cream)
- Nada Moo (Ice cream)
- Pacific Foods (non-dairy milk)
- Nancy’s (yogurt)
- Ruby Rocket (yogurt)
- Silk (yogurt, milk)
- So Delicious (yogurt, cheese, ice cream, they are SUPER transparent on label)
- Tofutti (cream cheese, sour cream)
- Ripple (non-dairy milk)
- Good Karma Foods (flax milk)