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Other names

  • Milk sugar
  • Lactose

Product description

Lactose is a disaccharide. It is a sugar composed of galactose and glucose. Lactose makes up around 2–8% of milk (by weight). The compound is a white, water-soluble, non-hygroscopic solid with a mildly sweet taste. It is used in the food industry.

Manufacturers typically add lactose to prepared foods as a coating to prevent caking. Additionally, food producers use lactose as a filler in bread and other baked goods such as pancakes, cereals and cookies. Since lactose does not have any flavor, using lactose as a food additive does not change the flavor of food. Additionally, you can find lactose in frozen and canned vegetables because it also helps prevent discoloration of foods. Powdered food products such as soups, dehydrated potatoes and meal-replacement supplements typically contain lactose. Further, non-dairy foods, such as coffee creamers, may also contain lactose in the form of dry milk solids or whey.

Its mild flavor and easy handling properties has led to its use as a carrier and stabiliser of aromas and pharmaceutical products. Lactose is not added directly to many foods, because its solubility is less than that of other sugars commonly used in food. Infant formula is a notable exception, where the addition of lactose is necessary to match the composition of human milk.

Lactose is not fermented by most yeast during brewing, which may be used to advantage. For example, lactose may be used to sweeten stout beer; the resulting beer is usually called a milk stout or a cream stout.

Yeast belonging to the genus Kluyveromyces have a unique industrial application as they are capable of fermenting lactose for ethanol production. Surplus lactose from the whey by-product of dairy operations is a potential source of alternative energy. 

Another significant lactose use is in the pharmaceutical industry. Lactose is added to tablet and capsule drug products as an ingredient because of its physical and functional properties, i.e., compressibility and cost effective use. For similar reasons it can be used to cut (dilute) illicit drugs.

Appearance powder is crystalline, free flowing


Color white to light cream
Flavor and odor slightly sweet with no off flavor or odors
Protein Less than .15
Carbohydrate (as lactose) Greater than 99.4%
Moisture Less than .15
PH 4.5 to 7.0
Ash Less than .20
Scorched Particles 7.5 mg / 25 gm
Standard Plate Count 10,000 / 8 gm
Coliform Less than 10 per gram
Salmonella Negative
E. Coli Negative
See also Dry dairy