In today’s segment, 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. Yes, it’s made with regular cheese, but with the addition of one or more of the following: 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, the term has come to mean a smooth, mild flavored cheese.
4. Processed cheese was invented over 100 years ago in Switzerland, but it took an American, James L. Kraft, to manufacture the first commercially available sliced processed cheese, just after World War 2.
5. Kraft Singles, a product introduced in 1947, was an instant hit and went on to become an American legend.
6. One of the biggest consumer benefits of processed cheese is “the melt”. The use of emulsifiers in processed cheese lets it melt smoothly and uniformly when heated.
7. An important factor for food manufactures is the extended shelf life of processed cheese, due to the additives used.
8. Packaging each slice separately is a major convenience factor of processed cheese. If you’d like to skip chewing altogether, processed cheese can be found in spray cans.
9. The top uses for processed cheese are cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
10. Legally, processed cheese cannot be sold as “cheese”. It needs to be called 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.