Milk is allowed in dark chocolate, but because it is such a common food allergy, manufacturers have to put it on the list of ingredients.
The problem for vegans and people with milk allergies is that dark chocolate commonly contains milk, but it may not be on the label.
“The bottom line? Unfortunately, you can’t always tell if dark chocolate contains milk by reading the ingredients list.”
The FDA investigated 94 unique dark chocolate bars, all from different parts of the U.S. and different manufacturers. Only 6 listed “milk” as an ingredient. Of the remaining 88 bars, 51 actually did contain milk.
In fact, 61% of all dark chocolate bars tested by the FDA contained milk — likely due to cross-contamination during manufacturing.
Because cross-contamination is so common, dark chocolate frequently has warning labels like “may contain milk” or “made on equipment shared with milk.” But the FDA found that 75% of dark chocolate with these statements on the label really did contain milk.
Furthermore, vegan dark chocolate may not really be vegan. The FDA found that 25% of dark chocolate bars labeled “vegan” actually did contain milk.
“Milk-allergic consumers should be aware that 33% of the dark chocolates with no mention of milk anywhere on the label were, in fact, found to contain milk,” warns Dr. Stefano Luccioli, M.D.
The FDA did not name which dark chocolate bars tested positive for milk or announce any recalls. Instead, the FDA simply warned that dark chocolate is a “high-risk food” if you’re highly allergic to milk.
The FDA also warned consumers with allergies against eating dark chocolate with an advisory statement for milk, even if the product claims to be “vegan” or “dairy-free.”