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A new report is calling attention to some disturbing findings concerning parmesan cheese products that have been sold at big chains like Target and Walmart.

Bloomberg Business reports that some cheese makers are using substitute ingredients and fillers, including wood pulp, in their products. 

One such company, Castle Cheese Inc. of Pennsylvania, was found by the FDA to have used “no parmesan cheese" in the manufacturing of a product that was billed as being 100 percent grated parmesan. 

The report states:

According to the FDA’s report on Castle, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “no parmesan cheese was used to manufacture” the Market Pantry brand 100% grated Parmesan Cheese, sold at Target Corp. stores, and Always Save Grated Parmesan Cheese and Best Choice 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, sold by Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which along with its subsidiaries supplies 3,400 retail stores in 30 states. Instead, there was a mixture of Swiss, mozzarella, white cheddar and cellulose, according to the FDA.

Castle has never been an authorized Target vendor, according to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. “We are investigating the information provided in the report,” she said in an e-mail. Jeff Pedersen, an executive vice president of Associated Wholesale Grocers, had no comment.

The Castle president is reportedly scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges and could face a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. 

The wood pulp is said to come from cellulose, which is used to prevent the cheese from clumping.

Cellulose is legal up to a certain amount, but Bloomberg reported that its own tests on other store-bought parmesan cheese brands found higher-than-allowable levels of the substance.

Companies are also alleged to have used cheaper cheeses instead of Parmesan or Romano - despite the labeling - in order to save money.

Read more, here.


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