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The OU used to put DE next to the OU symbol when a product was Dairy Equipment. Such a product can not be eaten with meat but can be eaten right afterwards (you don't need to wait the amount of time that you normally wait between meat and dairy). Why did the OU stop this? Wouldn't it make everyone's lives a lot easier?

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5 Answers 5

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I found a couple of statements about this on ou.org:

"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." (from a 1992 article, here)

"The OU doesn’t recognize a DE or “Dairy Equipment” designation, and so all products made on dairy equipment are considered dairy and must be labeled D, even if all their ingredients are pareve." (from a 2002 newsletter, here)

So I guess at some point they changed their policies, but then decided to revert back to their original rules.

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    According to the last paragraph of oukosher.org/index.php/common/article/…, if you contact the OU about a specific OU-D product, they will tell you whether or not it actually contains any dairy ingredients. I tried this and they confirmed that original flavor Oreo cookies have no dairy and are only "dairy equipment". This applies to other shapes (e.g. double-stuffed) but they said they could not comment on other Oreo flavors. But don't just take my word for it; call them yourself!
    – Sam
    Mar 11, 2010 at 21:25
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    Note though that, because the OU's "D" means "dairy" or "dairy equipment", there is no guarantee, by reading the label, that the formulation of Oreos (or other things affecting their halachic status) won't have changed by tomorrow. I suggest you CYLOR regarding whether to rely in the long term on a statement of the OU that Oreos are "dairy equipment"....
    – msh210
    Jan 4, 2011 at 4:02
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    Crackerjacks are also pareve. So are many popular OU-D cereals. These days, as a CYA maneuver, most ingredient panels will write in bold letters at the end "contains wheat, milk, and soy ingredients" If they don't write "contains milk ingredients", that means that this company is certain that someone with a milk allergy won't eat their product, and sue them for not warning the consumer sufficiently. So - if an OU-D product doesn't say "contains milk", and none of the ingredients are dairy, it's dairy equipment. Don't eat in same bite as meat, but no counting hours.
    – user1095
    Dec 18, 2011 at 20:21
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    I have at times brought out oreos after a shabbos meal at my home and people were astounded that they are not actually dairy. I shudder to think what is actually in that creamy center :) Apr 4, 2012 at 22:08
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    @Will just to clarify, one should not eat in the same bite or at a table set with meat dishes. The way to do it is to clear the table or move to the living room for desert etc. Apr 4, 2012 at 22:09
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The OU (Webbe Rebbe) told me in an email that:

"If the ingredients list dairy items it is dairy otherwise you can assume that the product is 'only' made on equipment."

So although they stopped with the OU-DE, it seems that they assume that consumers can read ingredients and figure things out for themselves.

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    I heard the same from someone familiar with the OU. The issue is that no one knows this, so they wait 5 hours before eating pretzels, etc. Also, its harder to check every ingredient than a simple DE. Not sure why the OU does this...
    – Ariel K
    Sep 21, 2011 at 14:05
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Was out shopping today and found OU-DE products in the store. Per the OU website they do have a DE designation that they currently use.

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I work as a dairy manager for a well-known grocery company in Texas. OU-DE is present on many of our products, such as almond milk, orange juice, and lemonade. The designation still exists.

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  • Still or again?
    – Double AA
    Oct 26, 2023 at 0:25
  • @DoubleAA I’m not sure, I only know that the designation exists currently.
    – ezra
    Oct 26, 2023 at 6:29
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I heard at one point that the OU-DE certification was suspended because it was (potentially?) causing problems for non-Kosher consumers who buy Kosher foods to be scrupulously careful to avoid dairy products due to severe allergies or other concerns (or, of course, for Kosher consumers with dairy allergies). They don't care about waiting after a meat meal, they care about avoiding severe health issues.

As the OU says in https://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/kashrus-and-allergens/ "Have you ever seen a product label with the word “pareve” appearing on the front, and a “may contain traces of milk” statement under the ingredient panel on the back? This outward and superficial inconsistency has generated much confusion among kosher consumers. [...] In practical terms, if machinery is used at ambient temperatures and shared between dairy and pareve products, a standard cleaning to reduce unwanted dairy residue to minuscule, insignificant proportions is sufficient to consider non-dairy products handled by the same machinery as pareve. However, this will very likely not eliminate an allergen concern."

For a non-Jewish perspective, "Kids with Allergies" blog at https://kidswithfoodallergies.org/living-with-food-allergies/choosing-safe-foods/kosher-labeling-and-milk-or-dairy-allergy/ says "Some people who manage a milk allergy use Kosher labels to tell if a food contains milk. But Kosher labeling is not an accurate way to figure out if a product is safe for someone with a milk allergy. [...] Kosher foods that are processed on “dairy equipment” may have a “D” or “DE” after the Kosher symbol. From the food allergy perspective, these foods may be cross-contact with dairy ingredients. "

Because the attractiveness of Kosher foods to non-Kosher consumers is a big part of what keeps Kosher food economically viable in many countries (citation needed) there is a large incentive to keep Kosher labels as useful for those consumers as possible.

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