Hey folks,

Welcome to this edition of Whatever Wednesdays. Today I'm going to discuss another ingredient that you may find in a lot of packaged products- casein. Casein is a particularly sneaky one because you may find a lot of products that will claim to be dairy-free but contain casein. If a product has casein in it, it is NOT vegan. The following is the lowdown on this perpetrator.

CASEIN KAY-seen; KAY-see-ihn

Casein is the prinicipal protein in milk, it coagulates (changing a liquid to a solid) with the addition of rennin and is the foundation for cheese. Most protein found in cheese is rennet casein curd (to read more about rennet from a previous post, click here). Casein is also used in the manufacturing of items such as adhesives, paints and plastics.

Since casein is derived from milk, it is not considered a vegan product. However, many vegetarians will purchase products that contain casein if they eat dairy. You will find many soy cheeses that have casein, so if you are going the vegan route, you would need to avoid those. Also, individuals that are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy would need to steer clear as well.

Although you may find many products with casein, there are just as many in which it is not found. Always do your due diligence when buying products. If you are not sure of an ingredient, take the time to find out what it is first. Hopefully, I'm helping to make this process a little easier for you! :-)

SOURCES: answers.com, vegetarian.about.com, wikipedia.org