An investigation has found that some types of parmesan contain a suprising amount of wood pulp - and some contain no cheese at all.
After receiving a tip off, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” Market Pantry’s “100% grated Parmesan Cheese”.
Rather than the hard, dry cheese made from skimmed cow's milk, Castle Cheese Inc.’s take on the dairy product was manufactured using Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar cheese and cellulose – a by-product of wood pulp.
The proportion of cellulose found in the cheese widely sold at Target, came in at 2 - 4 per cent. The FDA has no required cellulose limits.
Caste Inc. are not the only cheese manufacturers to have been found causing a stink in the industry. According to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Centre for Dairy Research, in an interview with Bloomberg Business, the worst offender is "Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese", from Jewel-Osco, with 8.8 per cent cellulose.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s "Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese" came in with 7.8 per cent.
Kraft contained 3.8 per cent and Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list the ingredient, but tested at 0.3 per cent.
10 best English cheeses
10 best English cheeses
(1) Mature Wookey Hole Cave Aged Farmhouse Cheddar
This crumbly, earthy Dorset cheddar has just been crowned Supreme Champion at the international cheese awards. The humidity and year-round temperatures of Wookey Hole Caves are said to hold the secret of its success.
£2 for 200g, sainsburys.co.uk
The Fine Cheese Company in Bath is a treasure trove of scrumptious English varieties. Our favourite is Rachel, a modern, wash-rind goats' milk cheese, made in Somerset by Pete Humphries and romantically named after an old flame.
£24.18 per kg, finecheese.co.uk
Kirkham's Lancashire is a traditional farmhouse cheese. Its tasty quality is said to be due to the sea salt that blows around the pastures near the Irish Sea where the Kirkham's herd of Friesians graze.
£19.50 per kg, paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk
(4) Real Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries
Blended cheeses aren't to everyone's taste, but this is a surprisingly colourful, delicate and fruity number.
£1.99 for 180g, wensleydale.co.uk
If you're a fan of stilton, don't miss Colston Bassett's version. The texture is pure velvet and the flavour ranges from mild with a sharp edge when young, to rich and tangy when mature.
£18 per kg, teddingtoncheese.co.uk
(6) Somerset Camembert
Somerset Camembert is rich and creamy, with a soft, edible rind. As the cheese matures the curd softens, getting a buttery colour and rich flavour.
£2.09 for 220g, waitrose.com
(7) Stinking Bishop
Stinking Bishop smells of old socks, but it tastes divine. The rind is washed in perry, made from the Stinking Bishop pear, inside which is a soft, creamy, full-flavoured cheese.
£25.10 per kg, finecheese.co.uk
(8) Blacksticks Blue
This unique version of the British blue was created in 2003. Originally developed for the restaurant business, it was soon snapped up by Marks & Spencer, where it remains a bestseller.
£1.99 for 150g, marksandspencer.com
(9) Cornish Yarg
Yarg is made by hand, then brined before nettle or wild garlic leaves are wrapped round to help the cheese mature and develop its characteristic creamy, yet crumbly texture and subtle flavour.
£16.95 for a 900g truckle, lynherdairies.co.uk
(10) Mature Cheshire
The Bourne family has been making outstanding cheeses for more than 250 years. Using milk from their own Friesian cows, they still use traditional techniques ? the results are stunningly good.
£8.84 per kg, madebyhandsofbritain.com
Parmesan is more expensive than other cheeses to make due to a slow curing process that produces a smaller yield.
The favourite hard cheese has a celebrated nutty flavour, but until now woody undertones have not been marketed as part of its attraction.
Cellulose is a tasteless and naturally fat free natural plant sugar. It is used as a safe additive in cheese to prevent clumping. Cheese makers mix in higher levels in an attempt to cut costs, as it is a cheaper ingredient than pure parmesan.
Caste Cheese Inc. has ceased manufacturing the “Parmesan” cheese and filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
Castle President Michelle Myrter is facing criminal charges. If convicted, she faces being sentenced to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Michael Mullen, a Kraft Heinz Co. spokesman, told Bloomberg: “We remain committed to the quality of our products,” John Forrest Ales, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said the “compliance team is looking into these findings.”
Whole Foods has said they strongly believe there is no cellulose present in their product.
John Forrest Ales, a Walmart spokesperson told The Independent: “We know earning customer trust starts with high standards, both inside the package and out. Our repeated testing of this item proves it meets federal regulations for its standard of identity. Even though using anti-caking aids is common across the industry and approved by the FDA, and testing a single sample is statistically unreliable, our compliance team is looking into these findings with the supplier. We never waiver on quality and will continue to ensure our product specifications are being met.”Reuse content