I love my cheese: brie, cheddar, chevre, fetta, even blue vein sometimes…
For me, cheese has got to have the proper mouth-feel and texture. If it’s posing as a sandwich cheese—it’s got to melt. If it doesn’t meet this basic criteria, I’m quick to pass it up.
I see the plastic cheese gleaming from inside it’s over-packaged wrapper in the grocery store fridge, and I wonder who would ever go for this over-processed stuff?
I have a theory that plastic cheese must be the choice of people who have never actually experienced the pleasure of real cheese, or can’t use a knife—one of the two.
As you will notice from the video, plastic cheese does not actually melt, it burns. Even the plastic wrapper melts better than the cheese. I’m not implying it is plastic, but the cheese has been altered enough for it to behave differently than regular cheese.
Okay, so maybe plastic cheese is just not my thing—I’ll accept that. Other’s seem to like the pre-packaged convenience and neat squares that processed cheese offers. One thing I am concerned about though, aside from the strange texture, does plastic cheese pose any health risks over real cheese?
The big cheese off : Plastic cheese vs. real cheddar cheese:
- Processed cheese is referred to as “cheese food,” or worse, “cheese product” in supermarkets. This is because it is technically not cheese, although it contains cheese. Real cheese is simply called cheese, as it is made in a traditional fashion.
- Processed cheese has an extended shelf life—this is due to the extra preservatives and emulsifiers it contains.
- Real cheese’s primary ingredients are milk and rennet, which then curdles and is pressed and left to ripen. Processed cheese commonly uses “Milk Protein Concentrate” instead of fresh milk, as it is cheaper and doesn’t need to be stored in a refrigerator.
- Processed cheese contains sodium phosphates, of which there are several different kinds. These emulsifiers aid in the process of binding the oils and water together. This substance is generally considered safe; however, there are counter-claims that it damages the kidneys.
- Another stabilizer found in processed cheese is trisodium phosphate. This inorganic chemical compound is also used as a strain remover, lubricant, and a degreaser. Surprisingly, it is also a safe food additive in small amounts in most Western countries—including the U.S.
- Plastic cheese contains food dyes to give it that yellowy tinge you come to expect from cheese. Food dyes are generally considered safe for human consumption. Then again, many also argue that yellow dye in processed cheese products is linked to increased hyperactivity, allergies, migraines, and possibly even cancer, due to the petroleum base of the dye. Real cheese does not usually contain dye, but read the label if you are unsure.
- Canola oil is another ingredient of processed cheese. Again, it is seemingly safe. Unfortunately, dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that it’s a GMO crop with a bad reputation for being harmful to your heart, as well as a long list of health concerns.
On the flip side, real cheese is nutritious and good for you in many ways, so eat up.
Promise me something? Don’t ever feel guilty for eating cheese, as it is a source of vitamin K2, minerals, protein, and healthy fats. Even people who are lactose intolerant may be able to enjoy cheese, as the lactose is often removed in the process.