Many people assume that chocolate contains dairy, but 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, and is naturally dairy-free.
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 may seem obvious in milk chocolate, but they also find their way into many brands of semi-sweet and dark chocolate. Always read the ingredient statement 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.
If you are dealing with a severe milk allergy, seek out chocolate brands that are made in allergen-safe facilities with milk-free lines.
Alisa Fleming is a contributing editor to Allergic Living magazine and the author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance and Casein Free Living, and founder of Godairyfree.org.