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Foods which are made of pareve ingredients but were processed in pots, etc. that had previously been used for dairy (and were not kashered and may not even be fully cleaned) have a special kosher status. When produced at home or in a restaurant setting, these items, referred to as DE/Dairy Equipment, should not be consumed together with meat, but one may eat them immediately after eating meat without waiting 6 hours. When produced in a factory there are additional considerations. On the one hand, the "dairy" in most factories is chalav stam; there are different Rabbinic opinions whether that is a reason to treat these foods more strictly. On the other hand, the methods of industrial production lend itself to possible halachic leniencies (bitul, stam keilim ainum b'nei yoman), which might even justify eating the "DE food" with meat itself. Consumers should seek guidance from their Rabbi on the appropriate practice.
The above relates to foods certified as being "DE". The leniencies noted above should not be applied to foods labelled "dairy" (or "D"), unless someone familiar with food technology can read the ingredient panel and verify that, in fact, all of the ingredients are truly pareve. In this context, it is noteworthy that (a) many items contain "flavors", and the only real way to know if the flavor includes dairy components is to ask the certifying agency to investigate that issue, and (b) some dairy components (e.g., butter oil, starter distillate) do not cause allergic reactions; therefore the food might contain dairy components even if there is no dairy allergen warning on the package.