The ‘100 Percent Grated Parmesan Cheese’ in Your Fridge May Actually Contain Wood, FDA Finds

Buca Di Beppo Penne Pasta
Courtesy Buca Di Beppo

The cheese you’re using on your pasta might not be so “grate” after all.

According to Bloomberg Business, the FDA has reported that Castle Cheese Inc. — the manufacturer that makes Market Pantry’s “100% grated Parmesan Cheese,” which used to be sold at Target — used substitutes, including wood (yes, wood!) pulp on their product.

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In fact, the report showed that “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the cheese. Instead, it was made with Swiss, mozzarella and white cheddar (which are cheaper) — and the added bonus of cellulose (a byproduct of the wood pulp).

And Target isn’t alone. While a safe level of cellulose (which acts as an anti-clumping agent) is around 2 to 4 percent, according to Blomberg, certain common brands have tested much higher.

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Walmart’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, for example, reportedly came in at 7.8 percent, and Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese (sold at Jewel-Osco) had 8.8 percent. Whole Foods and Kraft showed some percentage of cellulose either below or within the acceptable level.

While these substitutes and fillers are costing manufacturers less to produce, the FDA is cracking down on the people cutting the cheese—literally. According to reports, Castle Cheese Inc. has stopped making the not-so-Parmesan cheese, and filed for bankruptcy in 2014.

Blake Bakkila

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