That Parmesan cheese you have in your fridge might not actually be cheese and now we’re freaking out

Next time you reach for that delicious, delicious container of Parmesan cheese for your pasta or pizza to eat by-the-bowlful-with-a-spoon, you might want to think twice. Thanks to a new investigation, it turns out that not all Parmesan cheese is created equal. Some of it is — you might want to sit down for this — wood.

According to a new investigation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they received a tip that led them to uncover that one of the largest Parmesan cheese suppliers in the country, Castle Cheese Inc., isn’t actually using Parmesan cheese for its cheese, even though the label comes bearing the claim, “100% Parmesan cheese.” What’s actually inside is a weird mix of cheaper cheese — like cheddar and swiss — and also cellulose. Which is most commonly used anti-clumping found in wood pulp. As in what you’d find in a piece of paper after it’s cut down and turned into paper.

Before you freak out about this too much, cellulose is perfectly safe to consume, and the FDA’s acceptable level for it is anywhere from 2% to 4%. But Bloomberg knew we were going to freak out about this anyway, and actually ran some very important cheese tests to try and figure out how much cellulose is in a regular container of grated Parmesan cheese.

According to them, “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, according to test results. 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.”

Okay, now we can freak out a little.

Thankfully, this hard cheese truth is rocking the cheese world, and many companies are stepping up to the (cheese?) plate to do away with this cellulose. Many were actually completely unaware cellulose was even being used in the first place.

“We strongly believe that there is no cellulose present,” Blaire Kniffin, a Whole Foods Market Inc. spokeswoman, explained in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “But we are investigating this matter.”

As for Castle Cheese Inc., the biggest cheese culprit right now, their president is actually being brought up on criminal chargers later this month, and is expected to plead guilty for all this bad-wood-cheese situation. Hopefully this situation will get better before it gets even worse, and we can all get back to safely working on our Night Cheese, sans any wood.