Add this to the list of horrifying food truths: an increase in ingredient substitutes for 100% Parmesan products may mean you’re eating wood pulp, according to the FDA.
Tests by the Food and Drug Administration have shown products under the 100 percent label are routinely being made with cut-rate substitutes such as cheaper cheeses cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella, as well as the aforementioned tree parts.
Bloomberg News performed their own tests on supposedly Parmesan products, and obtained some shocking results. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese was 7.8 percent cellulose, while Whole Foods 365 brand failed to include cellulose as an ingredient but tested for it at 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, Kraft had 3.8 percent.
The FDA is taking steps to address the issue by going after offenders of the food crime in court. In fact, the government agency is currently in the midst of prosecuting Castle Cheese for supplying big grocery chains with “false” Parmesan for almost 30 years. Castle sold product that contained “no Parmesan” to Target, among other retailers, despite claiming the cheese was 100 percent on their labels.
This month Castle’s president is expected to appear in court, where his guilty plea for peddling scam cheese could lead to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. For a better idea of how bad this actually is, there was apparently so much scam cheese and so much profit for this company that they were able to adorn the factory “with crenelated battlements and curved archways” that made the place look like “a medieval castle,” purely for aesthetic value. Back in 2014, Castle Cheese filed for bankruptcy after a fired factory worker exposed the bad business practices to the FDA.
Although spokespeople for Kraft Heinz, Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods have questioned Bloomberg’s findings, some industry members are arguing that packs of grated Parm are just shredded lies, claiming that 40 percent of what’s out there isn’t even a cheese product.