A vegan food empire has been forced to recall ‘dairy-free’ desserts – because they may contain milk.

VBites Foods, founded by model Heather Mills in Hove, withdrew its ‘Wot, No Dairy?’ dessert after testing positive to protein.

The company told customers the raspberry and black cherry desserts contained small quantities of milk protein casein – but insisted the contaminated products were not sold in Brighton and there was no health risk.

However, the Food Standards Agency issued an alert, warning: “These products contain milk, making it a possible health risk for anyone who has allergy or intolerance to milk or its constituents.

“If you have bought one of the above products and have an allergy or intolerance to milk, do not eat it. Instead, return it to the store from where you bought it.”

VBites said the line was withdrawn as a precaution and allergy groups had been informed. It blamed the suspected contamination on a third-party manufacturing site.

Bryony Barritt, customer liaison officer, said: “The exact cause or source of the contamination is still under investigation, but the trace quantities found do not pose any health risk.

“As a precaution, VBites Foods will not be supplying any more of these desserts until the source of contamination has been confirmed and the situation has been rectified.

“We apologise to all of our customers who have been affected by this. We are working to restore the supply as quickly as we can.”

The first VBites cafe was opened in Hove Lagoon in 2009 by Ms Mills, ex-wife of Paul McCartney.

She built it into a national food supplier with the purchase of The Redwood Wholefood Company. The Hove cafe has since relocated to East Street in Brighton.

Brighton-based vegan blogger Jojo Huxster said: “I’ve heard of this happening with other vegan-labelled and dairy-free products.

“Small businesses, vegan or not, often have to share production lines with larger companies producing dairy products and sometimes mistakes do happen.

“In my opinion veganism isn’t about complete purity but about doing your best not to consume animal products. VBites has done the right thing by withdrawing the product, mistakes happen and as long as companies are open and up front about it then it doesn't affect my opinion of them.”