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I noticed that this nutrition label: sh

says that it is both Kosher and Pareve, but it also says "may contain … milk,… crustaceans, shellfish".

How is that possible?

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  • For reference for readers unfamiliar with the hechsher in question: MK is a kashrus agency based in Montreal. They’re recommended by the CRC – DonielF Nov 18 at 20:03
  • There's at least one place under the KVH which is fleischig, but has the same kind of thing on its warning labels – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 19 at 20:59
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This is MK's response:

This product is TOTALLY kosher and this is an allergen warning only.

For more info about allergens, see our Kosher Minute video, by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/MKCanadasKosherCertifier/videos/466389873540856

  • My initial suspicion was that the company's legal department had told them to put that warning on all their products, just to be safe in case one of their customers ever has an allergic reaction. The allergen will have come from a different product, but even if there were legal doubt about it, the company can point to the label and say "we warned you". The video doesn't explicitly say that, but it's certainly consistent with it. (I once saw a bag of peanuts with the warning "May contain traces of peanut".) Thanks for doing the research I should have done myself. – Ray Butterworth Nov 20 at 13:46
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There are a variety of reasons why this can happen. One possibility is that the location where the food is packaged may also process shellfish (likely on entirely different equipment or at least on the same equipment with a thorough washing before kosher production). Because of the risk of cross-contamination the company mentions shellfish on the allergy label. But note that this is a package of flax seed. Flax seed is the only listed ingredient. Shellfish is clearly not an ingredient in this food. Any traces of shellfish in the package would be unintentional and easily batel beshishim.

Another possibility is that the product is processed in multiple locations, some of which also process shellfish. Companies often prefer to not have their packaging depend on the location of the product's processing, so they might just mention the non-kosher allergens even on packages of product produced in kosher-certified locations. Granted, if some locations are certified kosher and others aren't, they'd have to change the packaging anyway to include the hechsher only on the kosher-certified product.

In any case, if the product has a reliable kosher certification and is produced by a moderately well-known company, you can be rather certain that the product is indeed kosher.

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