Is Elmlea plant-based ‘cream’ suitable for milk allergy?

Elmlea have launched two plant-based alternatives to its cream line.

The vegan variants in both Single and Double are based on broad beans, and do not include any allergens in the ingredients, where you’ll also find rapeseed oil, coconut or palm oil (in Single and Double, respectively), potato starch, and some additives.

They are available from Asda

But, here’s the kicker — a precautionary warning for milk. The wording reads:

Not suitable for milk allergy sufferers as this product is made in an environment or factory that handles dairy products

I wrote to Elmlea to enquire about the allergy status, and received this reply, lightly edited:

Our Elmlea 100% plant based creams are vegan, gluten free, lactose free and certified dairy free and do not contain any diary ingredients. We aim to reach the highest standards and therefore continuously check our products for the presence of dairy before they leave our control. We use safety limits (Vital 2.0 limits) which are widely recognized and mean that dairy protein levels in our products are below the level of quantification which is below 0.4ppm (0.00004%) dairy protein. It is not possible to accurately detect dairy protein below this level in these products. People with a dairy protein allergy can have different sensitivities and some might react on protein levels that are not detectable, therefore no food product can be considered 100% free of dairy hence why we have a disclaimer on pack …

This to me throws up some interesting questions and issues: 

1/ My first comment is a pet moan: I wish brands would stop using ‘dairy’ or ‘dairy free’ in allergy discussions. The allergen is called ‘milk’. There is to my mind a confusing discordance describing something both as ‘certified dairy free’ and ‘not suitable for milk allergy sufferers’.

2/ If a certified milk free product isn’t considered safe for milk allergy sufferers, then what would be? 

3/ The Vital (Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling) limits were, to my knowledge, not set to protect every single conceivable allergy sufferer — but the vast majority, I think around 95–99%. If this is the case, is it reasonable to state that the product is not safe for all people with milk allergy? 

4/ If the disclaimer is going to be there anyway, why bother to test so stringently to below the level of quantification? As an alternative, this product is essentially only suitable for vegans, according to the label, and if that’s the market being targeted, surely there is no need to consider ‘safety limits’ to this degree? 

What do you think? Given this information, do you approve of what Elmlea are doing? If you have milk allergy, would you try the product? 

2 Comments

  1. Caroline Benjamin

    This happening more and more with vegan products – the disclaimers Not suitable for… although tested it makes life very difficult for those with the allergy – it gets their hopes up from the marketing speal and then you read the small print!!

    I have a similar issue with 100% plant based Flora, which had an effect on me, although not sure if due to the flaxseed content or ‘Not suitable for milk allergy or intolerances’

    Reply
    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Same company, I think, now, isn’t it? Upfield?

      Reply

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