There’s a lot of talk on how Parmesan cheese lovers have been had! Yeah, the cheese on your spaghetti – is actually made from wood pulp – at least partially.
Here’s what Huffington Post reported:
The offender here is cellulose. Not actual pieces of wood.
You probably haven’t heard this word since eighth grade science, but cellulose is a natural component of all plants’ cell walls and is in every fruit or vegetable you eat. Cellulose is made up of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon. It’s most commonly referred to as a dietary fiber and it usually passes through your GI tract without even being absorbed.
It’s often considered “wood pulp” because manufacturers grind up wood to extract cellulose from. Wood is from trees, trees are plants, plants have cellulose.
The FDA lets companies add cellulose to foods like shredded cheese because it prevents clumping and is harmless, organic matter. The official guideline allows cellulose to make up 2 to 4 percent of a product.
“Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.”
But here’s the real issue and what has led to the wood-being-in-the-cheese story:
The FDA found that a Pennsylvania-based company, Castle Cheese, Inc. was selling Parmesan cheese that didn’t just contain too much cellulose, it didn’t contain any actual Parmesan.
The knock-off Parmesan cheese was made up of other “trimmings of various cheeses” and distributed to thousands of grocery stores across the U.S. While that’s not necessarily unhealthy, it’s dishonest and illegal.
Now, the president of Castle Cheese, Inc., Michelle Myrter, has been charged in federal court for lying about the cheese’s quality and the company has filed for bankruptcy, according to BuzzFeed.
This has been the hot topic of conversation for years and it’s hit a resurgence because the folks at Bloomberg Business conducted an extremely thorough study on store-bought Parmesan cheeses. In the study, they found a higher percentage of cellulose in some cheeses than indicated on the products’ labels — and a higher percentage than allowed by the government. Read more at huffingtonpost.com
photo credit: huffingtonpost.com