What is Processed Cheese? [Cheese Miniseries Part 2/3]

American processed cheese
Image via Wikipedia

This is the second of three posts in our Cheese Miniseries.

part 1 – Thirteen Cheese Facts
part 2 – What is Processed Cheese? [you are here]
part 3 – Inside the Label – Kraft Singles

In this part, you’ll learn why not all cheese is created equal, and why many items at the supermarket are called “cheese product” and not simply “cheese”…

1. Processed cheese is also known as “process cheese”, “prepared cheese”, and “cheese food”.

2. It is a food product made from regular cheese, and almost always with the addition of whey, emulsifiers, milk, salts, preservatives, and food coloring.

3. The most popular processed cheese in the US is “American Cheese” although there is no one definition for that term. In most people’s minds though, the term has come to mean a smooth, mild flavored cheese.

4. Processed cheese was invented 100 years ago in Switzerland, but American James L. Kraft created the first commercially available sliced processed cheese, just after World War 2.

5. Kraft Singles, introduced in 1947, was an instant hit and became an American legend.

6. The use of emulsifiers in processed cheese lets it melt smoothly and uniformly when heated, unlike regular cheese.

7. Processed cheese, due to the additives used, has extended shelf-life.

8. Packaging each slice separately is a major convenience factor of processed cheese, and it can also be found in spray cans.

9. Top uses for processed cheese are cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.

10. Legally, processed cheese cannot be sold as “cheese” rather as a “cheese food”. In fact, the FDA highly regulates how products can be labeled based on their cheese ingredient, moisture content, and milkfat:
* Pasteurized process cheese - contains 100% cheese
* Pasteurized process cheese food - contains at least 51% cheese.
* Pasteurized process cheese product – contains less than 51% cheese.

In the third and last part of this miniseries, we’ll take a closer look at one such cheese product – Kraft Singles.

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  • http://www.4-xl.com suze

    When my bf’s nephew and his friend spent the day at my house once, I made them lunch..grilled cheese.. when I took out the cheese and it wasn’t wrapped in plastic and an orange/yellow color, they both asked “what is that?” ..they had no clue. I had to explain to them that what they are used to eating is not cheese..its cheese food..plastic cheese. So sad.