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.