In a previous article, I explained why I felt that ghee was not safe for those who are casein sensitive. Four years later, it's time to examine this topic again and reveal which types of ghee are in fact casein-free.
Ghee/Clarified Butter- Butter that has been processed in a way to remove milk solids/proteins.
Milk Proteins- Casein and Whey are the two main types of milk proteins.
Casein- The milk protein that is typically more inflammatory ("bad"). This is the protein that vegans often talk about when they say that dairy is bad for you. Much of the research in The China Study looked at Casein. For the purposes of this article I will focus on this protein, as it's more frequently the issue for autoimmune people.
Whey- The milk protein that is typically more anti-inflammatory ("good"). This is often found in protein powders, and some health experts recommend supplementing with it to support glutathione production. Please note that the immune system can still mount an inflammatory response to a "good" or otherwise "healthy" food.
It's often assumed that ghee is casein-free, but I personally don't feel comfortable making many assumptions when autoimmunity is afoot.
A patient asked me recently to research some ghee that she had purchased, and I was presently surprised by the results! These days, more companies are doing their due diligence and testing to ensure that they do in fact remove all of the casein from their ghee. Below are the results of my recent research, which I have divided into two charts: Safe and Unsafe. I am still waiting for a few results, but will add them as soon as I hear back from the companies.
Note #1: I am using 20 PPM as a baseline, as that is what is most commonly used when labeling foods gluten-free. If you aren't comfortable with the results that are close to 20 PPM, you may wish to purchase one of the other brands.
Note #2: There are many brands of ghee, and not many hours in the day. I only chose to research a handful of the most popular types of ghee. I also chose to only research brands that source grass-fed, organic milk, with the exception of Trader Joe's.
Notes about individual companies:
Pure Indian Foods' customer service was outstanding. They explained that each batch of their cultured ghee is tested for casein, which is why they feel comfortable putting casein content on their website. This is also part of why their cultured ghee is more expensive. They do not regularly test their non-cultured ghee, and thus do not feel comfortable putting claims on their website. They did, however, offer to test some of their non-cultured ghee for me and they will contact me with the result in about ten days.
Unsafe/Ghee that still contains Casein
Notes about individual companies:
Banyan Botanicals does not test their ghee. When asked, they said "In Ayurvedic tradition we don't standardize our products. That's more of a western practice."
Trader Joe's does not source their product from grass-fed, organic fed cows. Trader Joe's also could not tell me if their product was tested for casein content.
My conversation with Organic Valley is below. I found the exchange to be worrisome. Are they trying to trick consumers? The % thing was weird enough, but the 20 PPT (parts per thousand) seemed shady to me. Do they hope to confuse consumers between 20 PPM versus 20 PPT?
At this time I do not recommend making homemade ghee if you have an autoimmune disease or know that you are sensitive to casein or whey. We can see now that not all ghee is casein-free, and that great care must be taken to ensure that the final product is safe. It's not worth the risk to make your own when so many options are available.
Have you found another brand of ghee that is casein-free? Please comment and share, I would love to keep this list growing!
I wish you the best of luck on your healing journey,