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

Packaged Food

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


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.


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.


Packaged Food

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


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.


Massive $40 Billion Merger Will Bring Kraft Foods and Heinz Ketchup Together


Kraft Foods Group is set to be purchased by a Brazilian private equity firm for what is said to be $40 billion. The deal between the food manufacturer and the firm known as 3G Capital Partners is in advanced talks, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The last year hasn’t been too kind to Kraft. The company was reported to have lost $398 million in its fourth quarter due to poor sales. In February, Kraft’s CFO officially stepped down along with two other executives.

Some of the snack brands Kraft Foods Group is known for are Oscar Mayer, Kool Aid, Jello, Cool Whip and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

In 2014, HJ Heinz was also purchased by 3G. If the merger goes as planned, it will become third the largest packaged food business in the United States.

The new company will be called Kraft Heinz Company.


RECALL: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Packages Could Contain Metal

Certain boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese may possibly contain small pieces of metal, according to a breaking news release from the folks at the popular packaged goods company.

So we don’t miss anything, here’s the full release from the Kraft Foods Group:

NORTHFIELD, Ill., March 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Kraft Foods Group is voluntarily recalling approximately 242,000 cases of select code dates and manufacturing codes of the Original flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner – due to the possibility that some boxes may contain small pieces of metal. The recalled product is limited to the 7.25-oz. size of the Original flavor of boxed dinner with the “Best When Used By” dates of September 18, 2015 through October 11, 2015, with the code “C2” directly below the date on each individual box.  The “C2” refers to a specific production line on which the affected product was made.

Some of these products have also been packed in multi-pack units that have a range of different code dates and manufacturing codes on the external packaging (box or shrink-wrap), depending on the package configuration (see table below).

Recalled product was shipped to customers in the U.S. and several other countries, excluding Canada.  The affected dates of this product were sold in only these four configurations:

7.25 oz. box, Original flavor

3-pack box of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor

4-pack  shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor

5-pack shrink-wrap of those 7.25 oz. boxes, Original flavor

The following are being recalled:


No other sizes, varieties or pasta shapes and no other packaging configurations are included in this recall. And no products with manufacturing codes other than “C2” below the code date on the individual box are included in this recall.

Kraft has received eight consumer contacts about this product from the impacted line within this range of code dates and no injuries have been reported. We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed.

The recalled product was shipped by Kraft to customers nationwide in the U.S.  The product was also distributed to Puerto Rico and some Caribbean and South American countries — but not to Canada.

Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it.  They should return it to the store where purchased for an exchange or full refund.  Consumers also can contact Kraft Foods Consumer Relations at 1-800-816-9432 between 9 am and 6 pm (Eastern) for a full refund.



Fast Food

McDonald’s Coffee to Hit Store Shelves


The battle for fast food breakfast supremacy has been fierce. Whether it’s Taco Bell stepping up its breakfast burrito game, Chick-Fil-A presenting some fancy new coffee, or Jack in the Box releasing their Croissant Donuts, everyone’s trying to one-up each other.

Now it’s McDonald’s turn. Again. In early 2015, we’ll be able to buy bag-fulls of McDonald’s branded coffee as they’ve teamed up with Kraft to put it in store shelves.

CNN reported that the McCafe branded coffee flavors such as premium roast, French vanilla and hazelnut will be available and will be compatible with Keurig home brewers.

McDonald’s senior vice president Greg Watson said there was a huge demand for “at-home” options and that it was the obvious next step in their coffee evolution.

In the recent breakfast dog fight, McDonald’s has tested a chorizo breakfast burritos, given out free coffee, and have even considered extending their breakfast hours. Now they’ll try to make themselves at home, in our homes.

Kraft is the lowkey player in this, but they also teamed with Starbucks when the coffee juggernaut began selling its own at-home coffee selections.

So, if you’re not into waiting in ridiculous drive-thru lines for your morning coffee, there’ll soon be another option.


FDA’s Ban on Wooden Cheese Boards Could Devastate the US Artisan Cheese Industry


This could very well be the first sign of the cheesepocalypse. In a move that’s shaking the dairy world, the Food and Drug Administration issued a ban on the practice of aging cheese on wooden boards — including a majority of cheeses imported to the US. Aging cheese is a process that incorporates bacteria, enzymes, molds and environmental factors to add to the flavor of the final product. While this centuries-old process may sound unappetizing, it makes for damn good cheese.

It all started when the New York State Department of Agriculture asked the FDA if surfaces made from wood were an acceptable means to age cheese, according to Forbes. The branch chief of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutritions Dairy and Egg Branch replied:

The use of wooden shelves, rough or otherwise, for cheese ripening does not conform to [Current Good Manufacturing Practices], which require that “all plant equipment and utensils shall be so designed and of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable, and shall be properly maintained.”

While the regulation does not directly mention wood, the FDA will likely argue that wooden boards never truly reach their standard of cleanliness in comparison to plastic and metal alternatives. Because nothing says artisan like a cold and sterile factory environment.

While major cheese manufacturers like Kraft will be unaffected — they don’t require the wood-aging process — smaller businesses who make artisan cheeses will most definitely be devastated. Time will tell whether or not the FDA will back down or ease up on this regulation.


Today I Learned: Oreo Dunkaroos Really Do Exist


Back in July, someone invented earth-shattering M’Oreos, with many claiming that this would be the closest we’d ever get to Oreo Dunkaroos. Even the Twitterverse bemoaned this lack of Oreo innovation.


Apparently, mankind wasn’t reaching it’s full potential. Something had to be done and yet, the Oreo company remained silent on the issue. So we moved on, filling our days with doge memes and Rob Ford.

That is, until we stumbled upon these late last night:


Yes, the Dunkaroo version of Oreos exist and they’re called “Cookie Sticks ‘n Creme Dip.” Apparently, they’ve been around for a while now and you can buy them at Target, Walmart and even Amazon. We understand if you’re experiencing at mix of shock, disbelief, and uncontrollable joy right now. We’ve got extra undies on deck.

If this is something you’ve known for years, let us know so we can shame you for keeping this a secret for so long.