Why is lactose bad for you
Lactose-free foods: Not useful for everyone
Lactose (milk sugar) is a natural component of milk. Around every seventh person in Germany suffers from lactose intolerance (milk sugar intolerance) and cannot digest the milk sugar or digest it poorly. The industry offers a wide range of lactose-free foods. They usually cost more than the conventional variants.
For those who are not lactose intolerant, lactose-free products offer no added value. And even with an intolerance, not every person affected has to buy everything with the label "lactose-free" - because it also advertises foods that naturally have almost no lactose.
Hard cheese is naturally almost lactose-free
Depending on the degree of sensitivity, many sufferers can tolerate small amounts of lactose and thus also certain conventional dairy products. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate 12 grams of lactose at once.
- butter has a lactose content of less than one percent and is usually only consumed in small quantities.
- The most cheesesEspecially hard and semi-hard cheeses such as Emmentaler, Bergkäse, Parmesan or Gouda, only contain traces of lactose due to the manufacturing process.
- Sour milk products like yogurt contain 3 to 4 grams of lactose per 100 grams, but the lactic acid bacteria they contain break down some of the milk sugar. Creamy yoghurts, however, often contain additional skimmed milk powder (not in the list of ingredients) and then have a higher content of lactose in addition to a higher protein content. This can be seen in natural yoghurts from the higher nutritional value for sugar (up to approx. 7 grams per 100 grams.
Lactose intolerance should definitely be diagnosed by a specialist, and those affected should seek qualified nutritional advice. Rapid tests at home are not meaningful and must be confirmed by the doctor.
"Lactose-free" is only partially regulated by law
There is no legal regulation for the term "lactose-free" that applies to all foods. So far there have only been legal regulations for cheese or products made from cheese and dairy products such as yoghurt or curd milk. Since the end of 2016, a lactose content of less than 0.1 grams per 100 grams and a corresponding labeling has been required for these products in Germany if lactose-free is advertised.
For other foods, e.g. sausage products, chocolate or rusks, which are advertised as lactose-free, the manufacturers usually use this value as a guide. An indication of the lactose content is not required here.
- It must be for all Food is regulated by law, which means "lactose-free" and "low-lactose".
- The producers should not be allowed to advertise foods to which this definition applies anyway (e.g. hard or semi-hard cheese).
- In contrast, an addition such as "naturally lactose-free" is helpful information for consumers - this also makes it clear that this does not justify a higher price.
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