Monday, February 22, 2016

Wood Pulp = Cellulose, More about Parmesan Cheese

Like most things, the matter of the cellulose in parmesan cheese is actually a little more complicated. On my last post, a friend commented and explained that wood pulp is cellulose. (Thanks my friend!)  I looked it up and it is!  It acts as fiber in our digestive system that moves things a lot because it isn't digestible by human bodies.  Hmm...  I gathered from what I read online that it hasn't been determined whether it is dangerous for human consumption.  The FDA has approved it as a food additive.  That's why the article is funny to me.  I suspect there are probably limits of how much cellulose is added (though I'm not sure) and it is very important that food is correctly labeled.  I suspect that is one of the larger issues.  The article makes it seem like the wood pulp is dangerous.

Sifting through what I read a little more from the article I linked to and other sources I found online, I believe the issue is more with false labeling.  A cheese seems like it couldn't be 100% Parmesan Cheese if 3-4% of it is cellulose, aka wood pulp.  It is also disconcerting that Target's store brand grated Parmesan isn't at all parmesan.  The cellulose does keep it from clumping and sticking together.

Here's a link to a second article:

This article explains that 2-4% is allowed.  The cheese in question was tested at 7.8%, far higher than the allowable limit.  Kraft's cheese is within that limit.

Here's the FDA's statement about cellulose on their website:

I still think it's funny.  "Wood Pulp" is used to alarm us.  "Cellulose" is used to make us think it's just something else added to food.  It's all about the spin!

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