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Packaged Food

Kraft Kicks Off Fall With Pumpkin Spice Mac & Cheese In Canada

Photo courtesy of Kraft Heinz Canada

As summer comes to an end, everyone is gearing up for the fall season and, with that, comes the infamous Pumpkin Spice-themed foods and drinks. Yep, it’s that time again, folks. 

This year, however, Kraft Dinner is offering Canadians a new take on the seasonal flavor in the form of a Pumpkin Spice Macaroni and Cheese dinner box. 

Made with the same cheese powder base many of us grew up on, the new mac and cheese adds the fall flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. The result is a spicy and cheesy dinner treat.

Those all about pumpkin spice can sign up for a waitlist, and 1,000 lucky Canadians will be able to get their hands on a box of the new mac as well as some swag for free. 

Everyone else, it seems, will have to wait until October to try it out. 

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Culture Fast Food Packaged Food Restaurants

Could Macaroni And Cheese Be The Next Big Breakfast Food?

Macaroni and cheese has long been a favorite comfort food in the United States. Boxed mac dinners, scratch made, it’s all been a tasty pasta dish that we’ve loved to tuck into for dinner, lunch or a quick snack.

As the pandemic has ravaged across the nation, however, data has begun to suggest that mac and cheese has also become a bigger part of our breakfast routine.

Kraft, for example, conducted a survey amongst 1,000 adults and found that over half of them had given their kids mac and cheese for breakfast more often during the pandemic.

Data from Tastewise, an AI platform that analyzes patterns around food on the internet, has also found mentions of mac and cheese for breakfast or brunch climb by 50% over the past year.

Foodbeast has also taken notice of some mac and cheese breakfast items that have popped up in various restaurants. The Southern California chain Breakfast Republic, for example, has a skillet of breakfast mac, topped with eggs and bacon, on their menu.

Other restaurants, like The Row in Nashville, Homeroom in Oakland, and Ritual in Houston, also carry similar items in their list of breakfast offerings, whether it be on their regular menu or as a special.

So, could macaroni and cheese be starting to grow in popularity as a breakfast item? The above definitely suggests otherwise, even if other data indicates that a majority of folks haven’t heard too much of it yet.

Foodbeast has been surveying some of our own audience, and across over 1,400 people asked on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, only about 38% had heard of or tried a breakfast mac and cheese dish before. Additionally, data from Tastewise notes that of over 500,000 restaurants in their set, no more than a few hundred have the item somewhere on their menu.

This means that there’s plenty of room for breakfast mac to catch on, should people desire it. Personally, I wouldn’t mind digging into a few bowls of it with some oozy eggs for breakfast.

Categories
Design Packaged Food

You Can Turn Your Dad’s Face Into A Big Block Of Cheese For Father’s Day

If you’re still on the hunt for some Father’s Day gifts, there’s a last-minute chance to channel your inner Andrew Jackson and turn Pops into a big cheese block.

cheese block

Photo courtesy of Kraft

Kraft is offering up the zany opportunity on eBay, where the top 5 bidders in a special, 48-hour auction will win a custom-made cheese sculpture. Currently, the top bid stands at $500.

If you’re one of the top five, Kraft will reach out to you following the auction and ask for a picture of your dad. They’ll then have professional sculptors carve a bust of him out of a 40-pound block of cheddar. It’ll be completed the day before Father’s Day, at which point it will get sent to you.

For those wondering, Kraft isn’t keeping any of the money from the proceeds of this auction. 100% of the funds, plus a matching donation from them, will go to Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the country. So even if you don’t win, you can tell your dad that you spent good money on him that’s going to a great cause.

Those who do win the big block of cheese, though, are being advised by Kraft to NOT eat the cheese block. It’s meant for art, not for consumption purposes, so hold off on the crackers.

The auction closes on June 12th at 3 pm PST, and is only available to those in the 48 contiguous United States.

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Grocery News Now Trending Packaged Food Science

That Viral Mac And Cheese Study Is Actually A Fear-Mongering Twist On The Truth

Photo: Mike Mozart on Flickr

Don’t trust every scientific study that comes along on the Internet.

The New York Times recently published an article about a study identifying chemicals called phthalates in boxed macaroni and cheese products. Phthalates accidentally leach into food, especially high-fat items like meat and cheese, from processing or packaging equipment. In high dosages, they have some chronic toxicological concerns, which include potentially limiting testosterone production and disrupting hormones.

In their post, the Times claims that powdered cheese in boxed mac and cheese products, such as those produced by Kraft, can contain up to four times more phthalate than dairy products like string cheese.

Since the article went live, other outlets have begun to discuss how we should avoid eating boxed mac and cheese in the future because of these phthalates. If you read one of these, including the Times piece, there’s a good chance you stumbled into some classic pitfalls of inaccurate science reporting.

I’m not going to say that the Times article is completely false. They do a great job describing the toxicological risks of phthalates based on current research. However, there are multiple elements of the mac and cheese study that need to be addressed because it unjustly instills fear into the consumption of a product we love by distorting some data.

Photo: Steven Guzzardi on Flickr

To start, the claim that powdered cheese has quadruple the phthalate of other cheese products is definitely inflated. In the original study, you’ll find that in the actual overall product, phthalate levels are roughly within the same concentration range of 100-200 micrograms per kilogram of food. That means that per kilogram, cheese products like string cheese, cottage cheese, and the powdered cheese all have the same concentration level of phthalate. The false powdered cheese claim comes from measuring on a fat basis, so you would only find quadruple the phthalate in your system if you just ate the fat from each cheese, which doesn’t sound too appetizing.

If you try to compare between different specific phthalates, which is how the European Union regulates their intake of these incidental additives (the US has no such recommendations), you’ll find that the authors of the circulated report pulled a fast one. Instead of showing the concentration of each phthalate in the total product, they only presented data on the amount of each phthalate in the fat of all cheese products. There is no way to compare how much of each specific compound is present between boxed macaroni and cheese, string cheese, and other products evaluated by the study, so no actual determination can be made if these compounds are present in toxic levels or not.

Speaking of the study, it itself is more biased than that coconut oil study published by the American Heart Association last month. The coalition behind this report targeted Kraft Mac and Cheese as a potentially toxic product to strike fear into us. We know this because while no brands are named in the report, Kraft was the only brand analyzed that was mentioned to the New York Times. Furthermore, the study’s writers, “The Coalition For Safer Food Processing And Packaging,” were kind enough to leave us their website name: www.KleanUpKraft.org. Pretty sure there’s at least some kind of bias there.

On the website, you can actually find the full laboratory report of the tests that wasn’t displayed or circulated by the New York Times. Page 22 shows the full results of each specific phthalate for each product, and none of these results come even close to EU limits of how much of each phthalate can be present per kilogram of food. (Look at page 5 in the SML column of this report for those amounts.) This means that Klean Up Kraft took the data and egregiously spun it to scare us all out of eating boxed mac and cheese.

Photo: Pixabay

Based on this realization, however, you should feel better about chowing down on some boxed macaroni tonight. There isn’t even close to enough phthalate in this cheesy pasta to be of concern. You can still avoid it if you wish, but just know that the study about these compounds is blowing the entire thing out of proportion.

Categories
Humor Video

Watch Kraft’s Charmingly Vulgar Mother’s Day Commercial

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and this year, Kraft is giving moms a little extra love. In honor of the National Holiday, the mac and cheese brand teamed up with swearing expert Melissa Mohr, Ph.D., in a hilarious commercial short: Swear Like a Mother.

The idea is that moms aren’t perfect, they’ll mess up just like everyone else because they’re human. This includes swearing like a sailor upon occasion. Statistically, 74 percent of moms have admitted to swearing in front of their own children.

Mohr is the author of Holy Sh*T: A Brief History of Swearing, a book on alternative swear words moms can use around their kids.

Check out the short in the video above. This officially serves as your first reminder to get your mom something for Mother’s Day.

Kraft is also developing adorable mac and cheese ear plugs for children, in case swearing alternatives cannot be found in the heat of the moment.

Categories
News

You’ve Been Eating Parmesan Cheese Made With Wood And Never Even Knew It

Unbeknownst to many, Parmesan fraud is a growing issue in today’s cheese market (despite how jokey that sounds). According to the FDA, Parmesan cheese is being cut more and more often with a variety of things that aren’t Parmesan cheese, namely other cheeses and…wood pulp.

I had an idea of what wood pulp was, but I wasn’t entirely sure, so I googled it. Turns out, it’s exactly what you would expect it to be: pieces of wood ground down so finely that it becomes pulpy. In order to make maximum profits using minimum resources, several companies (both proven guilty and allegedly guilty) used the pulp replacement to save on ingredients.

According to the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations, Parmesan cheese (or more properly known as Parmigiano-Reggiano when referring to the actual thing) is allowed to have only three ingredients in it: milk, rennet (in order to harden the cheese), and salt. Small enzyme particles of plant and animal origins are allowed to make their way into the cheese during the fermentation process, but combined can only weigh .01 percent or less of the total weight of the milk used. Additionally, creators of the cheese can add food coloring if they would like, as long as every coloring used, no matter how little, is listed in the ingredients.

A large number of companies have come under fire lately for their misleading products, including big competitors like Kraft. Three ingredients that are absolutely not allowed in the cheese are cellulose, potassium sorbate and cheese culture, yet all three were found in Kraft’s Grated Parmesan Cheese, on top of the wood pulp. While a slap in the face like this might fly in America, the land of gracious rebranding, the cheese is an affront to Europeans, who live close enough to Parma, Italy, to try the real deal. Thus, the European FDA forbade Kraft from selling their cheese in Europe, or at the very least, selling it under the guise of Parmesan.

This “wood in your cheese” news comes as an unwelcome surprise to Parmesan-lovers for two reasons, the first reason being good ol’ fashioned deceit. Nobody enjoys having the wool pulled over their eyes or feeling tricked. So finding out through third party sources that the cheese you love so much has been parading around as something else this entire time is sure to incite some pretty unhappy, if not furious, emotions.

Second, we are now eating things in which we are unsure of the ignredients. We as consumers are not particularly happy when we eat something that isn’t what it is advertised to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like anybody is being fed bleach or cyanide or anything like that; it’s not anything life-threatening. But for people with very specific allergies, or people that are sticklers for health, a discovery like this is easily enough to dissuade them from ever purchasing the product made by that company again.

One talented Forbes Magazine contributor, Larry Olmstead, created an in-depth article pointing out all the issues with Parmesan cheese made in America, pointing out that tricky American labels are leading to misrepresentation strong enough to fool consumers. He uses the skewed labeling for Kraft’s 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, pointing out his confusion by saying, “I’m not sure if that means it is supposed to be 100% “parmesan” or simply 100% grated, which it certainly is.” Many other companies that sell the grated and bottled cheese also bank on slick and devious labeling, using ambiguous words and phrases like “all natural” and “100% real.” Anything can be considered 100% real if it’s a tangible object, can’t it? And words like “natural” have implied meanings, but nothing concrete, which is especially useful for companies looking to spin the true nature of their ingredients.

 

 

Sources: Forbes, Bloomberg, Grubstreet

Categories
Packaged Food

Kraft Recalls 36,000 Cases Of Cheese Product After Plastic Choking Incidents

Kraft-Cheese-Recall

The Kraft Heinz Company announced that it’s recalling 36,000 cases of Kraft Singles, Consumerist reports. Turns out, the plastic wrap that separates each individual slices is a choking hazard.

In a press release, the company stated, “A thin strip of the individual packaging film may remain adhered to the slice after the wrapper has been removed. If the film sticks to the slice and is not removed, it could potentially cause a choking hazard.”

There have been three reports of people choking on the plastic and ten overall complaints about the packaging.

Kraft-Recall-2

The main products of the recall are the 3-pound and 4-pound sizes of Kraft Singles American and White American pasteurized prepared cheese product. They feature a ‘Best When Used By’ date of Dec. 29, 2015.

Consumers are advised to return the item to the store if they purchased the recalled cheese product. There, they can exchange it or receive a full refund. Folks in the US and Puerto Rico can also contact Kraft Consumer Relations at 1-800-432-3101 on Monday through Friday at 9am to 6pm for a full refund.

Kraft also apologizes for disappointing consumers with its packaging.

 

Categories
Packaged Food

Kraft Has Plans To Remove The Artificial Colorings From Their Mac & Cheese

Kraft-Yellow-Color

Orange and blue have become synonymous with the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese brand. The bright orange, derived from synthetic coloring, is now set to undergo some natural changes.

Beginning next year, Original Kraft Macaroni & Cheese will replace colors Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 with more natural ingredients. The brand said in a statement that they’ll be using paprika, annatto and turmeric in its Macaroni & Cheese to replicate that famous bright orange coloring.

The big change is set to take place in 2016 because Kraft will need the rest of the year to figure out a recipe that both keeps the color and doesn’t affect flavor.

Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, known as Tartrazine and Orange Yellow, are synthetic lemon dyes that are added to food for color. They’ve been known to cause asthma and hyperactivity in children.