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Why You Need To Be Careful When Buying Dairy-Free Chocolate

Pieces of dark chocolate
Pieces of dark chocolate - Alvarez/Getty Images

When craving something sweet, chocolate is a go-to for plenty of people. Fortunately, for those who follow a dairy-free diet, there are plenty of chocolate options available on the market. Even brands like Hershey sell vegan chocolates nationwide made with oat milk. While traditional milk chocolate is obviously unsafe for those who have cut dairy out, dark chocolate is more likely to be milk-free.

Unfortunately, not all dairy-free chocolate is guaranteed to be completely free from milk byproducts. Even those that are labeled as dairy-free could still contain trace amounts of milk — which could be dangerous for people with allergies. These accidental additions likely come from shared manufacturing equipment with chocolate products that do contain milk.

Although some dark chocolate bar brands are labeled as dairy-free, it's still worth it to check the ingredients list, just to be sure. Even if the dessert doesn't contain milk itself, there are still a few byproducts that may have snuck their way in accidentally.

Read more: 8 Chocolate Bars That Are Totally Different Outside The US

Check The Nutrition Info For These Ingredients

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
Dark chocolate and cocoa powder - Vasiliybudarin/Getty Images

There are a few different ingredients to look out for when glancing over a chocolate bar's label. The first is whey, which is a liquid produced after milk is turned into cheese curds. Since it originates from cow's milk, it's unsafe for anyone with a milk allergy or those who follow vegan diets. Secondly, you'll want to check if there is any casein in the chocolate. Casein is a protein found prominently in cow's milk that is responsible for its pale hue and opaqueness.

Generally, a dairy-free chocolate bar will only need to contain a few ingredients. Cocoa butter, cocoa solids, lecithin, and sugar are the only essentials for producing a bar of dairy-free dark chocolate. Of course, other ingredients like nuts, crisped rice, and pretzel pieces might work their way in for a little extra crunch, but the bars should generally be pretty simplistic. If you're planning on cooking dairy-free desserts, look for the chocolate bars or baking chocolate with short ingredients lists as a good starting point.

Finding Dairy-Free Chocolate

Pieces of dark chocolate
Pieces of dark chocolate - Farion_o/Getty Images

So, which dairy-free chocolate bar brands are actually safe for those who don't consume milk? Higher-quality brands like Compartes, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Tony's Chocolonely, and Ritter Sport have omitted dairy from their vegan chocolate bar options. So if you need something dairy-free, it may be worth it to shell out a few extra dollars for the good stuff.

Trader Joe's shoppers are also in luck. The specialty grocery store sells quite a few different dairy-free chocolate products. If you're seeking something simple, the Organic 92% Dark Chocolate Bar is totally dairy-free and contains only four ingredients. The Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups are also allergy-friendly, containing no milk or peanuts. Trader Joe's sells several candies, too, plus chocolate bars made with oat milk, if you prefer your chocolate a little lighter.

The next time you're shopping for some dairy-free chocolate, make sure to take an extra look at your candy bar's wrapper. Although the dessert may be labeled as dairy-free, there could be some surprise dairy hiding in the bar.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.