Is This Cheese? Kraft Singles [Cheese Miniseries Part 3 / 3]

Kraft Singles

This is the third of three posts in our Cheese Miniseries. In part 1, we covered  12 basic cheese facts. In part 2, we explained what processed cheese is. Today we’ll look inside the label of Kraft Singles.

It’s been a classic American cheese product for over 60 years. Three generations of Americans have been using Kraft Singles in billions of sandwich melts and burgers over the years.

The product’s full name is Kraft Pasteurized Processed Cheese Product. It cannot be called cheese because less than 51% of it is actually cheese. The rest is composed of other ingredients.

What you need to know:

A single slice of this processed cheese product has  70 calories, 45 of them from fat. The saturated fat in just one slice  is 3 grams and accounts for 15% of the maximum daily consumption. That same slice accounts for 11% of the recommended daily sodium max. On the positive side, 4 slices will give you 100% of your daily calcium requirement.

And here is the ingredient list, followed by a decoder:

MILK, WHEY, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, MILKFAT, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, SALT, SODIUM CITRATE, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, CHEESE CULTURE, ENZYMES, ANNATTO AND PAPRIKA EXTRACT (COLOR), VITAMIN D3.

Milk – is it whole? Skim? Kraft doesn’t say.

Whey – a by-product of cheese production. it is one of the components which separates from milk after curdling.

Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) – a white to light-cream-colored dry powder. It is a very cheap milk byproduct produced from skim milk through a series of processes that includes ultrafiltration, evaporation and drying.

Milkfat – the fatty portion of milk. Whole milk has 3.25% fat. Skim milk has none. How much milkfat is used here? good question. Kraft doesn’t say.

Calcium Phosphate  (E341) – an acidity regulator, calcium phosphate is also a raising agent. It is also used in cheese products to fortify them  with additional calcium.

Sodium Citrate (E331) -  a food additive, usually for flavor or as a preservative. Has a tart flavor.

Whey Protein Concentrate -  a collection of globular proteins that can be isolated from whey, a by-product of cheese manufactured from cow’s milk.

Sodium Phosphate (E339) – a food additive used as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers keep oil and water molecules mixed together, despite their natural tendency to separate. Sodium phosphate is used in processed cheese products such as this. It also increases its shelf life and maintains texture and appearance.

Sorbic Acid as a Preservative  (E200) - antimicrobial agents often used as preservatives in food and drinks to prevent the growth of mold, yeast and fungi.

Cheese Culture - Cheese cultures are bacteria needed for the production of all types of cheese products. The bacteria type will determine the cheese’s gastronomic properties (smell, taste, texture).

Enzymes - coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey)

Annatto (Color) (E160b) – a natural red food coloring from the pulp of crushed seeds of tropical achiote trees.

Vitamin D3 – a type of vitamin D.

So, is this a healthy product?

For many parents who can’t get their kids to drink milk or eat real cheeses, the answer will be yes, in logical amounts (one or two slices). For some, the saturated fat content is too high, and they prefer not to consume cheese.

A third group considers using this cheese product like a waste. They would rather spend their “saturated fat dues” on REAL cheeses, whether swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, etc…

What to do at the supermarket:

You can guess which camp we’re in. With so many amazing 100% pure cheeses to choose from, why settle for half a product?

In any case, cheese should be consumed in small quantities due to the high level of saturated fat. So make every tasty morsel count.

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  • Brian

    I would say it’s not necessarily the saturated fat per se… the saturated fat is most likely from CAFO dairy. That’s the problem. Saturated fat is not as evil as everyone would have you think. Good fats/bad fats should be thought of good or bad depending on the source of the food, not on the type of fat. If it’s a whole natural food (ie: pastured eggs or wild caught fish), then the saturated fat in that is much better for you and a necessary nutrient. If it’s been processed like in this product, then it should be avoided. Like hemi says here, you can get fantastic cheese from high quality pastured sources, I would just disagree with his stance on saturated fat and say that you wouldn’t have to worry about the saturated fat in these high quality sources.

  • Mlphelps1

    More “Krafted” food. Yuk

  • mag

    i can’t beleave you did not say it is made in china, whew.  ty  but good or bad i do and will always love it..

  • http://www.trade-schools.net/blog/author/Jen-Johnston.aspx Jen

    This is awful. I can’t believe this is even marketed as food, let alone cheese. And, while this product sticks out as a well-known “fake” food, our supermarkets are full of these ingredients (or food-like substances). 

  • TigerSoul

    I really can’t believe this is even open for debate. This is not ‘food’. You could use Kraft singles as roof shingles for Pete’s sake. They repel water and they stretch and bend like Play-Doh. And, if we are going to kowtow to our children (who, by the way, are a lot younger and a lot shorter than us!) by appeasing them with “food” that they’re actually going to eat, well then, we’ve gone to hell in a handcart as a legitimate family-centered society. Hey, mom and dad? Guess what? YOU ARE THE ONES IN CHARGE! Little Madison or Tyler won’t eat what you cooked for dinner? Then they go to bed hungry. Let’s see how long that lasts.

    • master

      Lol he said little Madison or Tyler… But what about Jose and Maria or even Darrius? Just kidding completely agree with you. NO MORE KRAFTS SINGLES!

  • Cartoonguy_99

    This is a group of perfectly acceptable foodstuffs smashed together in sandwich sized squares. Milk? Check. Whey? Check and excellent source of protein. Milk fat? Check, and despite ignorance, dietary saturated fat is good for you.
    Tasty? Not really but that’s what toasty bread and butter are for.
    And TigerSoul? STFU. Thank you.

    • omgnotfat

       Thank god for a couple of reasonable people in these comments.  I wish people would quit perpetuating this “fat is bad” juju everywhere.  We have the research to prove that saturated fat intake is NOT associated with heart disease or BEING fat.  Just like dietary cholesterol doesn’t give you high cholesterol. 

      On the topic of Kraft Singles: I’m all for whole foods.  I eat organic fruits and veggies exclusively and grass-fed / free-range meats and eggs as often as I can afford to.  The ingredient list on this product is NOT scary AT ALL!  The only thing that I don’t like is that the milk is coming from corn-fed cows and therefore lacking in a lot of nutrients and higher in “bad” fats.  All these people saying “yuck,” seriously?  Do you even know wtf is in all the other food you eat?

  • Goblue1800

    UGGG…YUCK…I thankful did not bring my kids up eating kraft or Velveeta.  I knew it wasn’t real cheese. But of course used with an occasional holiday hamburger. You know someone wants a cheeseburger. But no way using with veggies or other meats.  I knew it was not real…just like margarine….I used butter.

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  • Joe Morgane

    It may be cheese in some form, but cheese should never be considered as a source of food for human consumption in the first place…

  • http://www.facebook.com/maritia.brickbealer Maritia Brickbealer

    Hey parents pay attention to this article for your kids sake.

  • Coe W

    re Gluten -Kraft: Applies to ALL Kraft products; If it has the words ‘spice’, ‘flavor’, or ‘color’ anywhere in the ingredients list- it may contain gluten and they say DO NOT CONSUME.

  • Mark

    I’m willing to bet that 9 out of the 10 people commenting in this thread consume food with 20x more synthetic ingredients than Kraft singles have in them.

  • Robin Richard Koykka

    Went to Giant Tiger (a Canadian store) and bought the store brand product… It wouldn’t melt when making an omelette… what’s wrong with this stuff?
    Ingredients – water, palm oil, food starch, modified food starch, casein, salt, sodium citrate, natural flavor, sodium phosphate, sorbic acid, and various gums with color… At the end it said “contains milk ingredients”
    Ok, so now I know what’s wrong… I didn’t read the ingredients! My fault.
    But who knew GT sold high heat gasket material dressed up in a cheese package

  • texascpa

    I wonder if the author realized that Kraft makes and sells a 2% and skim milk variety of american cheese singles. Maybe if the author did a little research, he could have come to the reasonable conclusion that normal Kraft American Cheese singles uses neither and could have eliminated that “scare” tactic from his article.

  • Corine

    I recently changed my diet completely. I used to eat so much processed crap and gained all this weight. I limit what “junk” I eat. 100 or less carbs a day, man breads are insane! I was curious about this cheese because I abxsolutely love cheese. I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know. I still eat it every now and then. Limit everything you eat, everything needs moderation. I’m happy I’m not eating 98% processed junk anymore, I cut down to less than 5% :) hoorah and I’ve lost 10ibs in 3 1/2 weeks.