Here’s some truly upsetting news for all us cheese lovers out there. No, it’s not another cheese heist, but it’s almost as bad. That Parmesan that we might be putting on our pizza and pastas could be nothing but wood shavings.
Or “wood pulp.” According to Bloomberg, the FDA has been investigating Parmesan manufacturers who fill their product with cellulose derived from wood pulp, which is often used for anti clumping purposes. Some manufacturers who use wood pulp cellulose have been advertising their Parmesan as having 100 percent of the genuine article.
Bloomberg tested some major grocery store 100 percent grated Parmesan brands, and found that Jewel-Osco’s contained 8.8 percent cellulose. The Walmart brand had 7.8 percent, and KMart’s had 3.8 percent.
The FDA has been specifically investigating Castle Cheese Inc. They sell their Parmesan at Target (though the company says they’re not an authorized supplier) and other grocery stores. An ex-employee tipped them off to Castle making a product that was a mixture of imitation cheese, Swiss, white cheddar, havarti and mozzarella. Which sounds delicious, but is actually zero percent Parmesan. The president of Castle is expected to plead guilty and could go to prison for a year.