By: Rabbi Yaakov Luban
The adjective ‘pareve’ means that the food item does not contain dairy or meat ingredients, and it was not processed with heat on dairy or meat equipment. Pareve foods are neutral and may be eaten with meat or dairy foods.
A. OU policy is that dairy or meat items are labeled OU-D and OU Dairy or OU Meat respectively. An item that is labeled OU without a suffix can be assumed to be pareve. Nonetheless, we recommend checking the ingredients listed on the label, since on rare occasions, the OU-D is inadvertently omitted.
According to government standards, any product labeled ‘sherbet’ or ‘fruit sherbet’ must contain milk and is, therefore, not pareve. Water ices may be pareve or dairy, which will be reflected in the OU designation.
Margarine contains oils and glycerides and requires rabbinic certification. Margarine may contain up to 12% dairy ingredients, and some margarines are OU Dairy while others are pareve.
D. Many non-dairy creamers are, in fact, dairy and bear an OU-D. The government requires that creamers be labeled “non-dairy” if milk derivatives are used instead of whole milk.