Parmesan cheese or wood pulp? Chances are when you sprinkle parmesan on your spaghetti you may be getting a little of both.
Some companies that promise 100% parmesan cheese, have been adding cellulose, a common food additive made from wood pulp, to their cheese products, according to an independent study, launched by Bloomberg News.
An independent laboratory test found that products like Walmart store’s Great Value 100% grated parmesan cheese registered 7.8% cellulose, Jewel-Osco’s Essential Everyday 100% parmesan cheese was 8.8% cellulose and Kraft had 3.8% cellulose, Bloomberg reported.
But, while the idea of eating a product that contains wood pulp doesn’t seem appetizing, you probably do it more than you think.
Cellulose, which is indigestible and present in all plant food, is many times added to food to give texture, according to John Coupland, a Pennsylvania State University professor of food science and president-elect of the Institute of Food Technologists.
Coupland said companies could use powdered cellulose from celery or broccoli in their products, but it would be a waste of food.
“It’s extracted and ground up like a powder, that doesn’t dissolve in water, and doesn’t taste like anything,” Coupland said.
The lack of taste is part of the reason it’s found in many shredded cheese products.
“The powdered cellulose in shredded cheese prevents the cheese from sticking together and getting oily,” Coupland said.
The study comes in the wake of a drawn-out FDA investigation into Castle Cheese Inc., a company which falsely claimed to produce 100% parmesan cheese, but used a high percentage of cellulose and a mixture of other cheeses, duping customers.
After the FDA investigation, the company discontinued the products and filed for bankruptcy in 2014, Bloomberg notes.
SOURCE: Mary Bowerman
USA TODAY Network