You’re an informed consumer. You know that processed foods can have additives, preservatives, and even contaminants. That’s why when you shop you’re careful to choose foods that are healthier for you and those you care about.
That’s what makes learning the disturbing truth about what’s really in your “healthy” Parmesan cheese even worse. Because when you buy something that’s labelled “All-Natural 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” you expect to find Parmesan in it, and nothing else.
But it turns out what you’ve been getting could be very different…
What SHOULD be in your grated Parmesan cheese
The ingredients in Parmesan cheese are simple:
- rennet (a collection of enzymes that’s a key component of cheese and legitimately natural)
That’s it. You age that the right way, under the right conditions, and you’re going to get Parmesan cheese.
But you know what should NEVER be in your grated Parmesan cheese? Wood. And yet chances are that it is.
What’s ACTUALLY in your grated Parmesan cheese
The harsh reality is some so-called grated Parmesan cheese products don’t contain ANY Parmesan cheese! Government testing revealed some brands included Swiss, mozzarella, and white cheddar cheeses, along with cellulose and potassium sorbate, but NO Parmesan.
Now, we love Swiss, mozzarella, and white cheddar cheeses – but when we’re supposed to be getting, and paying the price for, Parmesan we want Parmesan!
And then there’s that cellulose.
It turns out food manufacturers like to add cellulose to grated cheese to keep it from clumping and to help give it that creamy mouth feel we associate with grated cheeses. So what IS cellulose?
Well cellulose isn’t all bad. In fact it does occur naturally in many vegetables. But unfortunately that’s not the kind of cellulose you’re getting in your grated Parmesan cheese. Nope the cellulose in your cheese is being produced from wood pulp in a lab.
Yes, there really is wood in your cheese.
Ironically, because wood is technically natural food manufacturers can still get away with labeling your cheese as “all-natural.”
But let’s face it, dirt’s natural too, but that doesn’t mean we want it mixed in with our meals.
How big of a problem is wood in our cheese REALLY?
If you’re thinking a tiny sprinkling of wood pulp in your grated Parmesan cheese isn’t such a big deal you might be tempted to just dismiss it. Don’t.
Let’s look at some hard numbers…
Taking Parmesan cheese out of the equation for a moment, “acceptable levels” of cellulose in any food has been limited to between 2 and 4 percent. That’s how much cellulose the FDA has deemed safe for humans to eat in any product before swallowing all that tree bark might harm you.
A number of grated Parmesan cheeses that were tested by an independent lab hired by Bloomberg News revealed cellulose numbers high enough that they should have been listed on the label. But, shockingly, some were as high as 8.8 percent cellulose – FAR higher than the “acceptable levels” for human safety!
The bottom line is although you should be getting nothing but Parmesan when you buy 100 percent grated Parmesan cheese the chances are you’re not.
Your best bet is to skip the canned pre-grated cheese and buy yourself a fresh block of organic Parmesan and grate your own instead. It will taste better and you won’t have to worry about eating wood with your spaghetti squash.
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