Veggy Malta tried out Arla Lactofree Spreadable cheese. Although I am not lactose intolerant, I was interested in knowing more about this product.
As a starter, Arla Lactofree is still made from cow milk. So what is the difference? Why is it ok for people who are lactose intolerant?
I did some digging and tried to understand how milk is converted in lactose free. Regular milk contains the milk sugar lactose. NHS UK explains this well. They state that the body digests lactose using a substance called lactase. This breaks down lactose into two sugars called glucose and galactose, which can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. People with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough lactase, so lactose stays in the digestive system where it’s fermented by bacteria. This leads to the production of various gases, which cause the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
Now commercial milk producers have found a way around this. They add lactase to lactose-free-milk. By doing so they it can be drunk/eaten without the pesky symptoms. Lactase also makes the milk taste sweeter. Furthermore, the milk is ultra-pasteurised, thus rendering the lactose enzyme inactive. This in itself also extends the product shelf life. Not to create confusion, a lactose free milk is suitable for lactose intolerant individuals, but not necessarily for those who have milk allergies (primarily those allergic to two milk protein components casein and whey) and it is not suitable for vegans (or those on a dairy-free diet).
Now, a bit on the actually cheese spread. I could taste an added tinge of sweetness in the Arla Lactofree Spreadable cheese. I tried it on a traditional piece of Maltese bread and some galletti. This I guess can be considered as the local benchmark! The product taste and feel is similar to that of another cheese-spread. This is a good (and value for money) alternative for lactose intolerant people. You are essentially still consuming milk products without the irritable bowel side effects.