I did not understand completely what this meant, but know it is some indication of possible milk ingredients. This began my google search and I came across some information I wanted to share.
Reading this information helped me to better know the MORE SPECIFIC questions I need to be asking when speaking with any representative from a company regarding the factory/equipment cleaning processes.
The highlighted kosher labeling synopsis of the OU-D article below:
- Artificial and natural flavorings can be a concern. Flavoring may contain dairy derivatives not listed on an ingredient list because they are found in trace amounts.
- If dairy and non-dairy items are made on the same equipment, OU-D labeling will be used. Even if there are good cleaning processes in place between productions, this particular kosher symbol will still be used IF both dairy and non-dairy items have been made with HEAT on the same equipment.
- If dairy and non-dairy items are compatible, one may produce one after the other on the same machinery without any clean up.
TO “D” OR NOT TO “D”
BY RABBI YAAKOV LUBAN
"There is a common misimpression that the OU-D is printed on products which have no obvious dairy ingredients listed on their labels because companies are not required to list ingredients that are less than a certain percentage. In fact, this is not true. In truth, there are three main reasons for the “D” designation when dairy ingredients do not appear on the label.
1. While labeling regulations frequently do require the listing of trace ingredients that are even less than one percent, the law allows the use of certain general terms without itemizing each component. For example, many foods (such as ices, salad dressing, and non-dairy creamers) contain natural or artificial flavors. Flavors contain numerous ingredients that are blended to duplicate a particular taste. The flavor may contain natural dairy derivatives, but the only item appearing on the ingredient panel is the general term “flavors.” Another case in point is hydrolized vegetable protein, typically used in soups and seasonings, which may contain casein, a dairy ingredient. Casein will not be identified separately from the vegetable protein on the label. There are numerous other ingredients that may mask the presence of a dairy component.
2. The product may be made from ingredients that are totally pareve, but the item is made on equipment that is used for dairy production (for example, margarine, nuts and potato chips). In many cases, companies clean carefully between one production and the next. Nonetheless, if dairy and non-dairy products are both made with heat, non-dairy items will be labeled OU-D. A product manufactured on dairy equipment has a different set of halachic rules than a product that contains dairy ingredients. The product may be eaten after a meat meal, but it may not be eaten together with meat. Because of this distinction, some kashruth organizations have established a special category of products made on dairy equipment, and have instituted a D.E. symbol. To avoid confusion, the OU has chosen not to use the D.E. categorization. We feel that many people will not be familiar with the ramifications of this halachic status.
3. If the dairy and non-dairy products are compatible, the company may produce one after the other on the same machinery without any clean up. In this situation, residual dairy material may find its way into an otherwise pareve product. For example, chocolate companies generally do not clean their production lines with water because the presence of even a minute amount of water could ruin the chocolate. A cookie company may run a pareve formula after a butter cookie without doing a cleanup.
It is important to note that dairy ingredients or dairy residual material often are present in products at very low levels. According to halachah, a dairy component which is less than one part in sixty may be botel nullified. Nonetheless, as a matter of policy, the OU will not imply a product is pareve by printing an OU without a “D” on the label, even though the dairy component is at trace level."
Rabbi Luban is a Senior Rabbinic Coordinator in the OU Kashruth Division.
This article appeared in the Summer 5752/1992 issue of Jewish Action
If you would care to read the article in its entirety, here is the link: http://www.ou.org/kosher/dairy.htm
This is just one more way in which labeling helps me to be better educated. My home will be safer and I will make better Allergy~Friendly choices thanks thanks to OU-D labeling.
Hope you also find this helpful.