Grating: 100 Percent Pure Parmesan Products Found To Contain Either No Parmesan Or Additives of Wood or Cheaper Cheeses

FDA Logo260px-Parmigiano_reggiano_pieceOne of the most basic functions of government should be to require accurate descriptions of products in the market. I am a big believer in the free market and tend to resist government regulation whenever possible. However, the free market functions best when the government enforces the rules to prevent misleading and fraudulent practices. This week is an example of how labeling continues to mislead consumers. While parmesan cheese is often advertised as “100%” pure, it can include wood pulp and cheaper cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, and mozzarella. One manufacturer, Castle Cheese, supplying Target actually had no parmesan in its “100 percent” parmesan cheese product.

The FDA is thankfully prosecuting Castle Cheese (though not apparently Target) for the fraud on consumers. One honest cheese supplier has called for tighter controls on its own industry because of an estimated 40% misleading or fraudulent labeling.

In the case of Castle, its president is expected to plead guilty this month to criminal charges. It is still unclear how this situation could have been allowed to get so bad. Bloomberg ran its own tests on “100 percent” grated Parmesan products and easily found fraud. It found that Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, from Jewel-Osco, was 8.8 percent cellulose while Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese registered 7.8 percent cellulose. Even more surprising for some who shop at Whole Food to get better products, the testing found that Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on the label, but still tested at 0.3 percent. Kraft had 3.8 percent.

The prosecution is welcomed but it represents the most extreme possible case. We need to be prosecuting more companies for augmenting their products while claiming 100% purity. When you sell someone 100% pure parmesan and then add wood or other cheeses, it would seem to me to be a case of simple fraud or misleading labeling. That would seem the least we can expect from the FDA since, as Bloomberg showed, testing is relatively easy and there are a relatively small number of major suppliers.

50 thoughts on “Grating: 100 Percent Pure Parmesan Products Found To Contain Either No Parmesan Or Additives of Wood or Cheaper Cheeses

  1. If JT and others are suggesting, obliquely, that libertarians and/or free-market advocates, are against either government certification of the purity of advertised products, or are against the enforcement of acts of fraud in selling such products after being proven fraudulent – then that is an over-the-top rendition of libertarians.

    Libertarians have nothing against public or private certifications of products offered or used by the public, and they have no problem in prosecutions, public or privately prosecuted, to the fullest extent of the law against fraudulent sellers of products that are not what they say they are.

  2. Darren – herbs are often easy to grow at home, and a packet of organic seed is typically around $2. You’ll save money, and your herbs will be fresher, if you grow them at home. And many do not take up much space. Plus you can experiment with interesting herbs rarely found fresh at the grocery store – like savory, sorrel, and lemongrass. You can even grow some nasturtium flowers to put on a salad. If you don’t want to grow from seed, you can pick up started herbs at the nursery for around the same cost as buying some fresh cut herbs at the grocery store, but be able to harvest leaves many times over the season.

    Good Parmesan usually lasts a long while after I open it. Does anyone know if you can freeze it, or at least the rinds? Freezing usually breaks the consistency of cheese, but I’ve never tried freezing hard cheese. Once I tasted fresh Parmesan, shaved off a wedge, I never went back to “the green can.” I don’t think that’s actually cheese. And this article explains the woody taste.

  3. Karen – it’s not ideal to freeze cheese but you can freeze it – the quality will suffer, but if it is the rinds, you’re only using them for seasoning, so it would be okay.

  4. Conservative Repubs hate the government
    So of course, they go to work for the government or run for office.
    Then they do a terrible job.
    And try to force everyone else to do a terrible job
    And they underfund everything so no one can quite do what they need to
    And then they complain about how terrible government is
    And shouldn’t we let the private sector just take care of itself
    Wink wink

    Bunch of criminals and sociopaths they are

    • Most of this is not true. And there isn’t any real difference between R’s and D’s. The whole thing is a con.
      – All Republicans, and especially Conservative ones, love the government. They love the military (BIG government), the police (government), the NSA/FBI/CIA/DEA (BIG government), Homeland Security (BIG government). They talk about cutting Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, but they never do.
      – All government does a horrible job. Anyone pretending to know what’s best about how to run other people’s business does a horrible job.
      – They actually spend way too much on everything the government “does”. Just like their D buddies, they run up huge debt (see Ronald Reagan).
      – They do complain, but they don’t mean it. This is part of the con. They actually love everything about the government. It is their gravy train.
      – Yes, we should allow the private sector — meaning you and me and everyone else who doesn’t work for the government (although our ranks are shrinking) to take care of ourselves. People should be free to voluntarily transact for anything and with anyone they choose. The government is the only entity holding a gun to our heads, now isn’t it?

  5. Corporations are not people.
    Money is not speech.

    Abraham Lincoln’s apocryphal joke on the subject:
    Q: If you call a sheep’s tale a leg, how many legs does the sheep have?
    A: Four legs. Calling a tale a leg does not make it one.

    Time to return to government of the people, by the people and for the people. Businesses and corporations do not need the government’s help. Citizens do.

    Libertarians are like cats. Totally dependent on others for their survival, but completely convinced of their own independence.

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