Fonterra Food Services
resources : Catering for Dietary Needs
Lactose Intolerance
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose is a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in milk and milk foods. Lactose intolerance or ‘lactase deficiency’ is due to deficiency or low levels of the digestive juice called lactase. People with lactose intolerance have varying degrees of intolerance, so they can generally consume some lactose safely with negligible symptoms.
Lactose intolerance does not require the person to eliminate dairy foods from their diet. Cheese and yogurt have virtually no lactose to low levels, respectively, and may be consumed safely (for most people) without experiencing symptoms.
What is a lactose free diet?
A lactose free diet may also be known as a ‘milk free’ or a ‘low lactose’ diet. It is basically a diet which excludes milk, however the amount of lactose which people can tolerate varies from individual to individual. It is important to check with patrons what dairy foods they can include and how much they can eat.
What foods are safe to include in a lactose free diet?
Strictly speaking if a person requests a ‘lactose free’ diet they are asking for no traces of lactose whatsoever – so all dairy products should be excluded. This is more extreme and is not very common. In this situation, the ingredient list on the label should also be checked to identify and avoid using the following ingredients: milk solids, whey, milk sugar and non-fat milk solids.
What foods are safe to include in a low lactose diet?
Assuming a person with lactose intolerance can tolerate some lactose and they request a ‘low lactose’ diet, the following types of Fonterra products are suitable:
• Milk in small amounts. Patrons may request regular milk instead of reduced fat or a skim milk varieties as regular milk tends to have lower lactose content.
• Hard cheese like Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan varieties
• Yogurt
• Cream
• Butter
What is the risk if a person consumes a lactose containing food/beverage?
Undigested lactose ferments in the colon and produces acids and gas. The person may experience abdominal pain, bloating, or more severe gastrointestinal problems, like excessive flatulence or diarrhoea.
The severity of symptoms depends on the individuals’ level of intolerance.
What Fonterra products are available to cater for a lactose intolerant diet?
A ‘lactose free’ diet should exclude ALL dairy products as they contain some lactose.
Helpful Links for further information
For more information about which foods and beverages can be eaten, refer to the Dietitians Association of Australia website via the following link to view an information sheet titled “Some smart eating tips for managing lactose intolerance in adults”

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