Key French Words for Dairy Allergy Sufferers Shopping in France


French words for English speakers with a dairy allergy food shopping in France, including translations of key products and ingredients to avoid or choose.

Food shopping in a foreign country is always a challenge. Food shopping in a foreign country for someone with little or no knowledge of the language and with an allergy to dairy or dairy intolerance can be trickier and even dangerous. To reduce the risks of an allergy or food intolerance attack it is useful to know some key words in French for foodstuffs and ingredients relating to dairy products.

The boulangerie, while a delight for the senses with the colourful pastries and smell of freshly cooked bread, is a minefield for someone with a dairy allergy or intolerance. Sadly, the only safe choice is a baguette because, unless you are lucky enough to find a boulangerie that sells products made with sunflower oil, or huile de tournesol, the awesome array of flaky croissants, golden brioche and succulent pastries all contain butter. However, increasingly, many large French supermarkets sell croissants that are made with sunflower oil as an alternative to the butter laden traditional pastries.

Key Dairy Foodstuffs and Dairy Related Ingredients in French and Translated for Dairy Allergy Sufferers

In the supermarket the obvious foodstuffs to avoid are all the items in the cheese, or fromage and milk, or lait aisles. These items are relatively easy to identify but what about the less obvious foodstuffs, where as part of the manufacturing process milk and other dairy based ingredients have been added. Examples include, gravy, meat flavourings,stock cubes,patés,bread, breakfast cereals, stuffed pasta and flavourings for savoury snacks and crisps, to name but a few.

This is not an exhaustive list of French words to look out for to avoid, but a few that may help:

  • Milk – lait
  • Cheese – fromage
  • Cows Cheese – fromage de vâche
  • Butter – buerre or buerre de cuisine
  • Cream – créme
  • Powdered Milk – lait entier en poudre
  • Cream Milk Powder – lait écréme en poudre
  • Flavourings Containing Milk – arômes (contient lait)

Some dairy sufferers are able to eat products made from goats and/or sheeps cheese/milk. But some people need to avoid all of these products as well. A few words to look for relating to goats or sheeps products include:

  • Goats Cheese – fromage de chevre
  • Sheeps Cheese- fromage de brebis
  • Goats Milk – lait de chevre
  • Products made from Goats Milk – produis de Chevre
  • Products made from Sheeps Milk – produis de Brebis

Dairy Free Foodstuffs and Ingredients written in French Translated for English Speaking Dairy Allergy Sufferers

So what to buy? Many French supermarkets now stock a huge variety of soya, or soja, based products. In addition to the supermarkets own make product lines, Sojasun and Bjorg are useful product names to look out for.

Both companies produce soya milk or lait de soja and vegetable based drinks, or boisson végétal, ready-made meals and desserts, or dessert végétale au soja. Some soya milks can be heavy on the sugar, however, so if you want to avoid that look for sans sucre ajouté, or no added sugar.

An alternative to butter for cooking and spreading on toast/baguettes can be hard to find. Even spreads marketed as vegetable spreads often contain milk powder, lait entier en poudre or lait écréme en poudre. One product which is dairy free is St Hubert Végétal, a soft tasty spread which is suitable for use in cookery. It is made without milk, sans lait, and is a truly vegetable based spread. Other handy products that can be found in larger French supermarkets include ready-made short crust and flaky pastry which is vegetable fat based, or matière grasse végétal.

Some of the products, ingredients and information to look out for, suitable for people with a dairy allergy or intolerance include:

  • Vegetable Fat – matière grasse végétal
  • Soya – soja
  • Soya Milk – lait de soja
  • Vegetable based drinks – boisson végétale
  • Vegetable based flaky pastry – pâte feuilletée, matière grasse végétal
  • Soya desserts – dessert végétale au soja
  • Without lactose – sans lactose
  • Easily digestable – trés digeste
  • Without Milk – sans lait
  • Coconut Milk – lait de coco

As well as the soya based alternatives, coconut milk, lait de coco, is a healthy option and sold in supermarkets all over France. It is becoming increasingly straightforward to find products suitable for allergy sufferers food shopping in France as long as you know what to look for.