Welcome to Friday Food Reviews where I will be covering a different food or product each week and looking at… what are they? where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, are they safe to eat, how to store them, how to use them, cook them, anything connected to that food. or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three…
We love cheese but I am selective and buy natural cheese where I can however I am partial to Brie sometimes as a treat…its the really heavily processed cheese that I avoid…pick wisely and enjoy!
This week it’s…Natural Cheese v Processed Cheese…
Well, what a can of worms ...I started off looking at processed cheese slices and how healthy or not they are etc… When you look at a picture like the one above it screams healthy, good for you…Doesn’t it??
Well, read on … No, those pretty, healthy cheese slices nestling in the grass with a glass of milk…Are not! You just have to read what is in one slice and then look at the picture again …a picture can be so very deceiving. Can’t it?
After researching cheese for a few days I realised that the cheeses which I thought were natural proper cheese may not be…
Although further investigation revealed that Europe has far more natural cheeses than the US…which appears to be the home of processed cheeses.
This is why their dairy industry is having such a hard time with it and it seems almonds are the new cow. So are cashews. Coconuts. Beans and peas. And pretty much any plant-based ingredients that can be turned into frothy, creamy, and delicious plant-based milk. No cow required.
Processed cheese the kind you find in a cheeseburger is known as prepared cheese it is made from real cheese however in what percentage I will tell you…Made from cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy by-products, plus emulsifiers, saturated vegetable oils, extra salt, artificial food colourings, whey or sugars.
They have a longer shelf life than natural cheese and when it comes to things like burgers which have melted cheese in them it doesn’t separate. Natural cheddar and mozzarella separate into molten lumps…
This is why processed cheeses squares are so popular...Unless you eat burgers for each meal with double cheese every day of the week then for a tasty occasional burger processed cheese is fine. Choose your brand wisely and remember…MODERATION!
The law is very clear on processed cheese slices and they cannot be sold as cheese if they are not…There are three categories:
- Pasteurised processed cheese is 100% cheese.
- Pasteurised processed cheese food must contain at least 51% cheese
- Pasteurised processed cheese product contains less than 51% cheese.
My advice... Always read the label as it should be clear and this is probably why there are so many different flavours, textures and colours of processed cheese on the supermarket shelves.
For my illustration, I will use Kraft Processed cheese as I think most people can relate to Kraft… although originally processed cheese was invented in Switzerland over 100 years ago and I suppose as the Swiss are famous for their cheese fondue that makes sense.
It wasn’t until after WW2 that an American called James L. Kraft commercially produced the cheese slice. Just take a look at the ingredients label on a package of Kraft American Cheese Singles which we get imported here in Thailand.
Milk, Whey, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid as a preservative, Apocarotenal ( Colour) Annatto( Colour) Enzymes, Vitamin D3, Cheese Culture.
What shocked me just as much is how MPCs( Milk Protein Concentrate) are a cheaper, foreign alternative to non-fat dry milk (NFDM) usually coming from water buffalos or yaks in places like China, India, Poland, and Ukraine the import of them is pretty much unregulated…That always sets off alarm bells for me as so much unregulated or very lax checking appears to be happening with regulated products which have been since proven to be detrimental to our health.
It seems that the US is far laxer and does not and this is my opinion seem to put much store on the nation’s health and well-being in the words of the FDA “found no evidence of any significant hazard to the health of the human population”
This list tells you which products are banned in many countries and not in the US… What shocks me more than anything is the fact that some companies who export to countries that ban certain additives in food DO NOT put them in food which is exported BUT still add them to the food in the US… That to me is absolutely appalling and shows what total disregard those companies have for the health of US citizens.
A quick walk through the grocery store reading dairy labels, and you’ll note that most processed cheeses now contain MPCs, including Kraft Singles.
I was quite shocked when I came across this list of cheese which is also processed:
- Blue Cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Gorgonzola Cheese
Unless of course they are made in Europe or by Artisanal cheese makers then they are very likely to be processed and not Natural cheeses.
Below is a link to the Natural cheeses made around Europe… It has certainly made me hungry and wanting to try some of those cheeses. DON’T THEY MAKE YOUR MOUTH WATER?
On balance, after writing and researching processed cheese ( The slices) I would buy the better ones but as the melting for burgers which we have very rarely but enjoy with cheese I would still use them but not on a regular basis and I am also very pleased that I have resisted my grandson’s plea’s to buy this unappetising liquid cheese in pots to make macaroni cheese…I am pleased I didn’t give in given what I have just discovered about the ingredients…
There are many kinds of cheese which are processed but which are good to eat it all depends on the processing…it is the cheese sold in jars the gloopy cheese which is used in processed mac n cheese which I steer clear of…and many cheese slices leave much to be desired I buy the best available for when I make burgers as it does melt better but as I make burgers very infrequently I make an exception rather than the norm…
Basically, both processed and natural cheese is good only if eaten within limits. Processed cheese is generally consumed in fast foods; hence it is important to take care of the number of fast foods you eat…
Thank you for reading if you liked what you have read please share as I think everyone should be aware of what is in their food and then make a choice as to whether they will still buy it…An informed choice is good…