Can you imagine a night out in an Italian restaurant, looking over the menu and making a decision between a cheese tortellini and Eggplant Parmesan. But you make a last minute decision to go with Chicken Alfredo, and when you get the plate 20 minutes later, the waiter asks you if you would like Parmesan cheese to top off the dish.
But now imagine a big wood chipper instead of the cheese grater, and tiny pieces of wood are on the top of your chicken Alfredo. May just ruin the dinner, right? While this situation might be a little dramatic, the FDA has discovered alarming amounts of a wood pulp in the Parmesan cheese (grated) on the grocery store shelves.
And what is worse, some brands are labeling 100 % purity contained (NO) Parmesan cheese. The FDA paid an unexpected visit to one cheese factory in the rural areas in Pennsylvania to discover that the Castle Cheese Inc. was developing its 100 percent real Parmesan cheese with filters and substitutes like wood pulp, and distributing that cheese to some of the biggest food chains in America.
According to the Bloomburg Business, the FDA discovered that there are other grated Parmesan suppliers that have been mislabeling the products by filling them with cellulose – which is an usual anti-clumping agent that is made from a wood pulp. Also, some are using cheaper cheddar cheese.
Michelle Myrter, the Castle Cheese President is scheduled to plead the guilty to the criminal charges, facing up to a $100.000 fine and a year in prison. The biggest seller of the Italian cheese in the United States is also in trouble. Arthur Schuman Inc., the New Jersey based company, mislabeled a $375 million worth of cheese.
Bloomburg News had grated cheese bought at store, tested for wood pulp, and here is what they discovered:
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese is registered at 7.8 %.
- Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from the Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose.
- Kraft brand registered at 3.8%.
- Whole Foods 365 brand tested at 0.3 percent. (It didn’t list the cellulose like an ingredient)
The companies are just saying that this is not true and that they are investigating the matter.
Why did this happen? Because of money. The Romano and Parmesan cheeses are expensive for the manufacturers to make, so they decided to throw in a little mozzarella, Swiss, cellulose and white cheddar, and label their cheese like 100 percent real Parmesan cheese.
Castle has produced mostly imitation cheese for about 30 years, and they boasted $19 million in 2013 in sales. The reports say that the company has stopped working and has filed for bankruptcy.
So, next time be very careful when buying grated Parmesan cheese, or when eating out.