The parmesan cheeses that don't have any cheese in them

After receiving a tip off, the FDA found that “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” Market Pantry’s “100% grated Parmesan Cheese”

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The Independent US

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.

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.

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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.”