FDA Warns The Parmesan You’re Eating Might Actually Be Wood Pulp

February 18, 2016 | By | Comments (8)

Credit: Krisztina Kantor Toth / EyeEm/Getty

Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been duped.

Yesterday, Bloomberg Business reported that several brands (Market Pantry, Great Value, Kraft) marketing their grated cheese as 100% Parmesan actually isn’t 100% Parmesan (some are even 0%!).

Many brands use exceptionally high amounts of cellulose, or wood pulp, as filler. Larger suppliers (like Castle Cheese, recently convicted for mislabeling by the FDA) use cellulose and a blend of cheaper, lower quality cheeses, yet have charged Parmesan prices for years. Yes, our collective nonna is spinning in her grave.

Since labels can’t be trusted, here’s how to shop for great Parmesan:

  • Skip the pre-grated stuff. It’s waxy and tasteless. Plus, grating your own allows for fluffy, fine shreds that dissolve beautifully in sauces, or wide curls that shatter on the tongue. We love this Microplane grater and these Oxo peelers.
  • Look for white spots. These are actually fat crystals, and the more the better. They provide an instant umami hit and the faintest crunch when you take a bite. Corner and bottom hunks of Parm with rind have the most spots.
  • You don’t need top dollar Parm. A $7 to $8 range for an 8-ounce wedge is great for everyday use, such as BelGioioso.

See More:


  1. The 10 Most Versatile Ingredients You Should Always Have in Your Refrigerator | MyRecipes.com

    […] “100%” Parmesan cheese in your refrigerator is not, in fact, 100% Parmesan and may actually contain high amounts of cellulose (or wood pulp), I’ve switched to only buying the real […]

    September 8, 2016 at 11:21 am
  2. Report: Half of All Burgers Have More Calories Than the Label Says | Cooking Light

    […] FDA Warns the Parmesan We’re Eating Might Be Wood Pulp […]

    May 11, 2016 at 2:49 pm
  3. Carolyn Bullard

    I believe Eddie & I open a bag of a “reputable” cheese company & it looked colorless & taste that if I ate grated cardboard it would taste like that!!! We thought it was just old but it better suits the description I just gave I know I should take it back to store but instead it was trashed I will call & at least tell & report to them. Thanks for the info!!😍

    February 28, 2016 at 10:31 pm
  4. Maytag Recalls Over 1,000 Pounds of Cheese Over Listeria Concerns | Cooking Light

    […] Keep reading: FDA Warns the Parmesan You’re Eating May Actually Be Wood Pulp […]

    February 24, 2016 at 8:00 am
  5. John DW Fielding

    Companies that pull such crap should be boycotted and even forced out of business! I don’t care how big they are!

    February 22, 2016 at 8:26 am
  6. Esther Waayenberg

    It’s not enough that we have had to become scientists to understand the contents but now we have to determine who is lying and who isn’t.

    February 21, 2016 at 2:09 pm
  7. Hmm…

    Where is the source for the basis of this?

    February 19, 2016 at 10:05 am
  8. FDA Warns The Parmesan You’re Eating Might Actually Be Wood Pulp | Rifleman III Journal

    […] Source: FDA Warns The Parmesan You’re Eating Might Actually Be Wood Pulp […]

    February 18, 2016 at 7:58 am

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