Your Grated Parmesan Cheese Might Actually Contain Wood

image source: thinkstock
image source: thinkstock

Horrible news, fellow cheese enthusiasts. Our favorite pasta accessory — Parmesan cheese — may actually have traces of wood in it.

After launching an investigation back in 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now able to confirm that some grated Parmesan suppliers have been mislabeling products, filling them with a substitute called cellulose — a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp. How gross is that?!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s a safe additive if the level is under 4%.
  • Many packaged cheeses currently claim to be 100% Parmesan, but actually have high levels of cellulose.

Which products should you avoid?

  • Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese from Jewel-Osco, with 8.8%
  • Walmart’s version of the sprinkled cheese, with 7.8%
  • Kraft’s Parmesan, with 3.8% — a little too close for comfort if you ask us

What should you do if you have one of these products?

We would recommend checking the label to see if cellulose is included on the ingredients list. If it’s over 4%, throw it away.

As Bloomberg noted, “Cheese makers commit adulteration because it saves money.” But is it worth it if they’re being deceitful to all consumers? We think not.

While these major brands battle it out and try to keep their integrity, we’ll be over here grating our own Parmesan — sans wood.

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