I was at a hotel recently, and naturally I had brought home those little packets of free coffee by the sink in the room. I noticed a packet of coffee additives--sugar, Splenda, and most importantly for this question, a supposed non-dairy creamer with the following ingredient list (in order):

  • Corn Syrup Solids
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Contains 2% or less of the following:
    • Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative)
    • Dipotassium Phosphate
    • Mono and Diglycerides
    • Sodium Silicoaluminate or Silicon Dioxide (anti-caking agent)
    • Sodium Tripolyphosphate
    • Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono and Dyglycerides
    • Artificial Flavors
    • Beta Carotene, Riboflavon, and Titanium Dioxide (artificial colors)

Given the presence of the ingredient I highlighted, how is this allowed to be called non-dairy creamer?

1 Answer 1


Title 21 (Food and Drugs) of the Code of Federal Regulation states

"(d) When foods characterized on the label as "nondairy" contain a caseinate ingredient, the caseinate ingredient shall be followed by a parenthetical statement identifying its source. For example, if the manufacturer uses the term "nondairy" on a creamer that contains sodium caseinate, it shall include a parenthetical term such as "a milk derivative" after the listing of sodium caseinate in the ingredient list"

According to this page on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's website, the term "non-dairy" is actually a by-product of the dairy lobby's efforts to make sure that substitute milk and cream products could not use the term dairy rather than the FDA trying to specify that something didn't contain any dairy.

  • So this creamer does contain dairy ingredients?
    – JesseTG
    Feb 17, 2016 at 19:58
  • 2
    @JesseTG It might be more correct to say dairy derivatives, but yes, that's what it means.
    – Era
    Feb 17, 2016 at 20:00
  • And "2% or less" so a relatively small amount, but yes. Feb 17, 2016 at 20:01
  • 2
    What a country we live in where non-dairy creamer can have dairy in it.
    – JesseTG
    Feb 17, 2016 at 21:22

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