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FDA busts parmesan cheese manufacturers for fakery and fraud: No real cheese was used!

Parmesan cheese

(NaturalNews) After being tipped off about possible fraud in the cheese industry, Bloomberg Business tested a variety of Parmesan grated cheeses available for purchase in grocery stores around the U.S., and discovered that a significant number of manufacturers are lying about what exactly is in their products.

An independent laboratory hired by Bloomberg learned that a number of grated parmesan cheeses marketed as containing 100 percent "real" cheese, are in fact laced with exceedingly high levels of cellulose, "a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels cellulose as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient, however, restricts it use, requiring that products not exceed between two and four percent. Well, it turns out that cheese producers are using a lot more than that.

Don't be fooled by that 100 percent 'real' label

"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."

Whole Foods denied the claims, suggesting the test produced a false positive. Wal-Mart too questioned the testing, while Kraft and Jewel-Osco maintained that they take great pride in the quality of their products ... whatever that means.

So, why the heck are cheese producers loading their products up with wood? The answer is that additives like cellulose are cheaper than the real deal. Cutting corners in this fashion allows for maximized profits and reduced production costs.

"Of all the popular cheeses in the U.S., the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in curing rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only eight pounds of Parmesan."

Profit trumps health

The two-pound difference can equal out to millions of dollars for producers, according to Dean Sommer, a cheese technologist at the Center for Dairy Research in Madison, Wisconsin.

The testing also discovered that some grated Parmesan producers are using cheaper cheddar instead of real Romano. Castle Cheese, an imitation cheese manufacturer based in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, is being reprimanded by the FDA for using no real Parmesan cheese in three brands marketed as containing 100 percent Parmesan cheese.

Instead, they were filling 100 percent Parmesan grated cheeses with Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose.

"According to the FDA's report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, 'no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture' the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states," reports Bloomberg.

Fraudsters are winning

Similarly to the way in which small organic farms, producing food in a responsible and sustainable manner, are being put out of business by large suppliers posing as "organic," who fail to adhere to the strict organic standards, honest cheese makers are finding it difficult to compete with fraudsters selling shoddy products at a reduced cost.

Neal Schuman, a cheese producer who prides himself on making high-quality, pure cheese, says Americans deserve to know if the cheese they sprinkle on their pizza or penne is fake.

"The tipping point was grated cheese, where less than 40 percent of the product was actually a cheese product," said Schuman. "Consumers are innocent, and they're not getting what they bargained for. And that's just wrong."

Here's further proof: "DairiConcepts, a Springfield, Missouri-based cheese maker that's a subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, said on its website that in a test of 28 brands, only one-third of label claims about protein levels in grated parmesan were accurate."

They implicated fillers such as cellulose.

Cellulose may not be that safe, either. Healthy food activist Food Babe explains that cellulose is actually indigestible by humans and has no caloric value. "The food industry tricks consumers who eat foods with a high cellulose content to feel full physically and psychologically without having consumed many calories."






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