I made a recipe last week from a renowned chef, and it called for shredded cheese. In the instructions, it was very specific about grating the cheese on a cheese grater instead of using shredded cheese from a bag. When some one asked me why I did that, I didn’t really know. So, I started doing some research and this is what I came up with:
What is the difference in packaged shredded cheese and block cheese?
The main difference is the ingredients.
There are 2 added ingredients in shredded cheese that are not in block cheese.
#1 Cellulose Powder
Cellulose is a product that comes from cotton and wood pulp….wood pulp, really??
It has become popular in recent years because it has no calorie content and is used in some foods to thicken, like ice cream. Companies also add it to diet foods to reduce the volume of food that is packaged. Cellulose adds volume to foods, which gives the appearance of there being more food in the package than there actually is.
The main reason it is in cheese is to prevent it from sticking together. Cellulose is an anti-caking agent. Cellulose has the ability to absorb moisture and coat ingredients in a fine powder making it the ingredient of choice for anti-caking applications. Shredded and grated cheeses, spice mixes, and powdered drink mixes are just a few of the many food items that take advantage of cellulose as an anti-caking agent.
So why do companies love Cellulose (AKA wood pulp) in food products?
- It stabilizes food
- Decreases fat
- Adds fake fiber
- It’s cheap
#2 Potato Starch
This is the other additive that is found in shredded cheese that is not in block cheese. Potato starch is a starch that is extracted from potatoes. The potatoes are crushed and then the starch grains are released from the destroyed cells. The starch is then washed out and dried to powder. (1)
Potato starch is used in wallpaper adhesive and in the process of making paper bags. It is used in shredded cheese to prevent caking and reduce sweating.
If you are watching your carb intake you may want to shy away from shredded cheese and other products that are infused with potato starch, seeing that is has 10 grams of carbs per tablespoon.
Seeing these added, unnecessary ingredients in a food a lot of people typically consume daily, should serve as a wake up call for us all. We need to be more aware and conscience of what foods we are letting in our body.
(1) Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato_starch
Do these facts surprise you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!