Many people in the food allergy community will assume that chocolate contains dairy. However, pure chocolate is in fact dairy-free.
True dark and semi-sweet chocolates are made with a base of cocoa solids (cocoa powder), cocoa butter and sugar. Though cocoa butter sounds like a dairy ingredient, it is actually the fatty portion of the cacao bean. It is naturally dairy-free.
What to Avoid
However, many brands are not pure chocolate, and instead have milk added, usually in the form of butter oil, milk fat, milk solids, or milk powder.
These ingredients are obvious in milk chocolate. But they also find their way into many brands of semi-sweet and dark chocolate. Be careful to always read the ingredients on the package.
Many brands of chocolate are also at risk for cross-contamination, as dark chocolate tends to be produced on the same lines as milk chocolate. Watch for an allergen statement (e.g. “this product may contain milk“). In case of doubt contact the manufacturer.
What to Look For
If you or your child has a severe milk allergy, seek out chocolate brands that are made in allergen-safe facilities with milk-free lines. Examples include: Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips, chunks and dark chocolate, and Nestlé Toll House Simply Delicious Semi-Sweet and Dark Chocolate Morsels.