Does Bread Have Dairy?

Does Bread Have Dairy?
Published on
02 August 2022
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

Bread is the staple of many diets, but what if you’re intolerant to dairy? Does bread have dairy and is it safe to eat if you have a dairy allergy? Here’s the truth about bread and dairy!

Does bread have dairy?

The short answer is bread does not need to contain any dairy, but it is found in many types of bread. The longer explanation requires an understanding of what bread is made from and where dairy may be hiding.

What is dairy?

Dairy products are derived from milk. Though milk is a dairy product that can be used to make bread, products created from it are also classed as dairy. These include cream, butter, cheese, whey and plenty of others. Some people are allergic to dairy, or lactose, a key component. Many people can use a product such as Lactaid to allow themselves the pleasure of consuming lactose, but others aren’t so lucky.

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How can dairy end up in bread?

Speciality bread like brioche or croissants contains high levels of butter and milk. These are obviously not dairy free, and often extremely high in fat! But there are many types of bread available that contain dairy when you might not expect it. Many commercial bread recipes will contain ingredients such as milk powder, butter, cream, whey and sometimes cheese. These may be used for textural or conditioning benefits, not necessarily flavour so you might not expect to see them on the ingredient list.

Bread types that often contain dairy:

  • Brioche
  • Soft bread/rolls
  • Croissants and other vieniessorie
  • Danish pastries
  • Bagels
  • Milk loaf

Bread can contain dairy through cross-contamination

Another way that bread may contain dairy is through cross-contamination during manufacturing or processing. This means that a factory worker who handles both gluten-containing items (such as wheat) and dairy products without changing gloves can contaminate baked goods with milk proteins. This should appear as a “trace allergy” on the packaging.

It’s best to avoid eating products where traces of dairy products are used, especially if you have a severe allergy. However, for those who are only mildly intolerant, you’ll usually be fine to eat the bread.

How to tell if bread has dairy

The first thing you need to do is check the ingredients list. If bread contains milk or lactose, it should be listed there. Depending on the country you are in, it might not be clear. In this case, read each ingredient to see if any are composed of dairy products. This may take some time, but being diligent and reading everything on your food labels can ensure that you are not consuming any dairy products.

Some bread ingredients that have milk products in them are:

  • Milk solids are milk proteins that have been concentrated and then added to bread.
  • Skim milk powder is a dried form of skimmed milk with the water removed. It’s often used in bakery products to extend shelf life and a creamy flavour, without affecting the recipe too much.
  • Whey – whey is a by-product of cheese production, and it’s often used as an additive in bread, cookies, and other baked goods.
  • Lactose is the sugar molecule found in milk that some people have trouble digesting. It’s not always listed as an ingredient since it occurs naturally in dairy products, but it’s worth checking for.
  • Butter – this one is pretty self-explanatory! Butter is often used in bread recipes to add flavour and moistness.

What bread can you eat when reducing dairy intake?

If you don’t have a lactose or dairy allergy but still want to reduce your intake, it is best to stay away from white bread. Many people do not realize how much dairy they consume just by eating sandwiches for lunch because even though it may be a small amount, it adds up over time. Stick to whole wheat or other whole grains instead. Alternatively, eat artisan bread if you have a local bakery, or even better, make bread yourself!

So, does bread have dairy?

To wrap up this article I hope you’ve grasped the dairy products that are commonly used in commercial bread. We’ve also covered the types of bread most likely to contain dairy products. So if you do suffer from dairy allergies, don’t make yourself sick by eating something without knowing all the facts. With a bit of research, you can easily find the right kind of bread for your needs and avoid any stomach problems down the line. There are plenty of other types of bread available that don’t contain any dairy products, so there’s no need to miss out on bread! 


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