FDA Warns The Parmesan You Eat May Be Wood Pulp

Getty Images

The FDA is cracking down on companies that are lying about selling 100% Parmesan cheese

The FDA is warning pasta and pizza lovers that cheese labeled “100 percent Parmesan” are often filled with cheese substitutes—like wood pulp.

Yes, you’ve been eating wood, thanks to companies like Castle Cheese, which produced Parmesan cheese containing no actual Parmesan for almost 30 years. The president of the company, which supplied megastores like Target, is scheduled to plead guilty this month to charges that carry a sentence of up to a year in prison and a $100,o00 fine, according to Bloomberg.

Neil Schuman—who runs Arthur Shcuman Inc. the largest seller of hard Italian cheese in the U.S.—estimates a whopping 20 percent of such cheese are mislabeled.

Bloomberg ran experiments on store-bought grated cheese to test for wood pulp content in a lab and found that many cheeses have cellulose, which is made from wood pulp. Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, contained 8.8 percent cellulose. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese had 7.8 percent cellulose. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient, and tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent cellulose.

Representatives at these stores said they were “investigating” these findings.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team