Most people already have one or two reasons to mistrust the food industry but what about doctoring Parmesan cheese with wood fibers? A recent story published online at Eater explains how Universal Cheese & Drying and International Packing has been fined $500,000 for food mislabeling. The company manufacturers Castle Cheese: a dry grated cheese product sold on grocery shelves. While it’s perfectly legal to include food additives to various products, companies must label each ingredient. The FDA has found that Universal Cheese & Drying and International Packing improperly labeled it’s additive. Yet, the real story is why cellulose, also known as wood fibers are being legally added to grated cheese.
According to the FDA’s Code of Regulations, four percent of cellulose can legally be added to this dry grated cheese. Guidelines candidly refer to cellulose as “fiber” and as it stands, consumers are told to add more dietary fiber to their menus. Fibers slow down the absorption of sugars, and promotes a more stable blood glucose level. However, the term dietary fiber varies. Ask your typical shopper what they feel “fiber” means, and it probably is void of wood pulp.
It’s really the most widely used common filler, traditionally used to prevent parts of food from sticking or clumping together. Of course, simple economics dictates the ever-presence of this wood pulp translates into raw materials that are no-doubt plentiful and cheap. This has also brought on several class action lawsuits, such as Kraft and Walmart’s Great Value, arguing that cellulose is an unnatural ingredient.
The reconnaissance campaign to seek out these unnatural fillers has not changed much in the skepticism of many customers. Most Americans don’t even think about it much. Additives have been added to foods for years to flavor them, to preserve them, or to improve their consistency, and its become widely accepted.
And if you would rather enjoy grated cheese without added wood fibers, aka cellulose? Grated Parmesan Cheese can also be found in the cheese section of the refrigerated portion of the grocery store.