Recently, the FDA uncovered clear evidence that many cheese manufacturers
were cutting their 100% real Parmesan cheese with wood pulp fillers and
cheaper substitutes. The FDA investigation found that Castle Cheese, Inc.
used wood pulp or cellulose, along with a mix of cheap cheddar, in its
100% Parmesan cheese. As a result, the President of Castle Cheese is facing
hefty fines and even prison time because of directly violating the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The History of Wood Filler in Food
In the 1970s, companies began adding cellulose to their products as a way
to bulk up their products, provide better texture and a creamy 'mouth
feel' in reduced fat foods. Companies quickly realized that they could
also increase their profits by adding bulk and cellulose fiber to their
foods in the form of this wood sawdust.
Today wood pulp, or cellulose, is actually a very common filler used in
a variety of products. It is not against FDA rules and regulations to
use this in food products. Cheese companies add cellulose to shredded
cheese varieties to keep the grated product from clumping.
What's the Real Problem with Wood Filler
But what is the REAL problem with having wood pulp filler in our cheese?
The answer may not quite be what you were expecting.
The legality has to do with the product being improperly labeled. The FDA's
Code of Federal Regulations specifically states that all ingredients should
be listed on the label. The FDA allows grated or shredded cheese to contain
up to 4% cellulose. Yet, marketing and labeling a product as 100% Parmesan
cheese is misleading to consumers when that product contains up to 4%
wood filler. This is a form of consumer fraud.
In addition, companies that use wood filler in their cheeses are competing
directly with companies that do not use such fillers. By adding fillers
to their cheese products, they are adding bulk to their product for pennies
– and raking in a higher profit at the expense of defrauding the public.
Last month, Wal-Mart was
sued after consumers claimed that chain was defrauding customers with its Great
Value brand "100% Grated Parmesan Cheese." Independent found
that the Wal-Mart brand cheese contained as much as 10 percent cellulose.
Well above the FDA limits.
What Can YOU Do As a Consumer
Consumers can hold these negligent manufacturers responsible for their
actions by buying cheese by the block and shredding it themselves. They
can also stop buying reduced fat versions of whole foods and seek to buy
organic whenever possible. Read labels carefully and if you are unsure
of an ingredient – don't purchase that product.
In addition, consumers can file
consumer class action lawsuits against these companies – holding them legally accountable for their
actions. More and more consumers are demanding transparency in their food
labels and truthful advertising. This call for transparency and truthfulness
has prompted many manufacturers to change they way they manufacture products
– leading to positive changes for consumers across the country.
Contact Our Philadelphia Consumer Class Action Lawyers
If you or someone you love has suffered because of a deceptive food label
or misleading advertising claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit. To
learn more about your consumer rights and legal options, call the Philadelphia
consumer lawyers at Golomb & Honik, P.C. today.
Our experienced class action lawyers have represented consumers and their
families across the United States in their quest for justice. We believe
in holding negligent agricultural and product companies responsible for
their actions and fight aggressively for all consumers. To schedule a
free consultation, call the Philadelphia class action lawyers at Golomb
& Honik, P.C. today at
1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential