On Lactose, Raw Milk Cheese, and Gluten Too!

I had a fabulous hour or so last week talking cheese with the superb front of house crew at Logan Brown. It is always great when you have lots of questions and discussion in these settings, and as a supplier we don't do this nearly enough. We will certainly ramp it up next year!

One of the things that came up was the question of which cheese is safe/unsafe for pregnant ladies, and having promised some notes I thought it prudent to write about this, and a little more.

So to start off, gluten free and coeliac disease. Only a small pecentage of the population test positive for coeliac disease, but up to 15% suffer intolerance to varying degrees. Only one of our cheeses has wheat in it, to the best of our knowledge, but it is important for coeliacs to take note of lactose intake as well.

Sadly there are so many people who have never taken the trouble to identify whether they are allergic to dairy products, or lactose intolerant. There is no excuse for this, especially with so much information on the internet. Suffice it to say that we have an epipen available in the shop at all times. When somebody inquires about an ingredient that may harm or upset them such as gluten, lactose, MSG, or sodium nitrate, we always advise to stay away. Labelling is not always perfect, especially regarding compound ingredients.

Lactose intolerant persons will usually be fine with sheep, goat, and buffalo, milk products. Cow's milk cheese which is older than two years is also likely to be lactose free. Because of the confusion between allergy and intolerance, it is important when customers ask, to elicit the information concerning their condition.

When we serve soft, or blue cheese, made from raw milk, it is vital to issue the standard warning that pregnant ladies, frail people, those with compromised immune systems due to medical instability, should avoid consuming these products. Ironically, the last two recalls we were part of, both came from cheese made from pasteurised milk. As such, it is important to make sure the customer is well informed (our pregnant customers certainly always seem to be), and make their own decision about what to eat, or not.

The advertising about this is probably much like quit smoking material: preaching to the converted.

The other issue which pops up regularly is the request for vegan cheese. We can only point them in the direction of the tofu. There are, however, numerous cheeses made with vegetarian rennet, which is pertinent to vegetarians, Jewish, and Muslim customers. We have this information freely available, and expect to see it on most menus in 2015.

I hope this is succinct enough to convey the basic information clearly and easily. It is already difficult enough for front of house staff, who need to be jugglers, athletes, psychologists and more, in addition to food and drink specialists, and attentive, competent and friendly servers.

For more information please don't hesitate to contact us.