We would like to clarify some consumer confusion regarding the practice of food manufacturers who include a “may contain” declaration on their product’s packaging. Rest assured that these declarations do not affect a product’s kosher status.
A “may contain” declaration is a food allergen precautionary statement that is required of a manufacturer if it has an allergen in its facility but is not contained in the product itself. Common allergens that are declared include: milk, nuts, eggs, soy, wheat and shellfish, among others. So for example, a food manufacturer might have two floors, one which produces products that contain dairy ingredients, and one that produces products that are entirely dairy free. In this case, the manufacturer would still be required to include the “may contain dairy” declaration on all of their products even though half of their products - those produced on the dairy free floor - are completely pareve.
In general, if a product has a kosher pareve symbol but the product has a “may contain dairy” declaration it should be considered pareve. Similarly, if a product carries a kosher symbol and has a “may contain shellfish” declaration it should be considered kosher.
If however, the ingredient panel lists a dairy ingredient in a pareve product, or a non-kosher ingredient in a kosher certified product, this could be a significant issue, and in such cases, we would request that consumers take a picture of the product and send it to the COR office immediately so that we can take action.
It should be noted that on Passover some consumers refrain from purchasing products that include may contain declarations such as may contain wheat, soy etc.