Walmart’s “Great Value 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese” is at the center of new litigation that accuses the brand of, well, not being 100% cheese.
A lawsuit – Moschetta v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. – was filed at the United States Supreme Court, Southern District of New York on behalf of customer Marc Moschetta.
He claims that the 100% representation of the Walmart’s cheese “was false and mischaracterized the amount and percentage of Parmesan cheese in the container.”
The cheese contain cellulose that has been called “wood pulp” because it is extracted from ground up wood. The additive is ok’d by the FDA for consumption and is actually pretty standard in many shredded cheese varieties and other food such as ice cream, puffed snack foods, baked goods and more.
What’s not okay is using too much of it. The FDA considers safe cellulose consumption levels at 2% – 4%. According to a Bloomberg investigation, Walmart and other brands have ironically added high quantities of cellulose to their misleading labeled “100% Parmesan” products: Essential Everyday 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese from Jewel-Osco was 8.8% cellulose; while Walmart Stores Inc.’s Great Value 100% Graded Parmesan Cheese registered at 7.8%, according to test results. Whole Foods 365 brand didn’t list cellulose as an ingredient on their label, but still tested at 0.3%. Kraft had 3.8%.
So why are they doing this? According to Bloomberg: Of all the popular cheeses in the US, the hard Italian varieties are the most likely to have fillers because of their expense. Parmesan wheels sit in churning rooms for months, losing moisture, which results in a smaller yield than other cheeses offer. While 100 pounds of milk might produce 10 pounds of cheddar, it makes only 8 pounds of Parmesan. Bloomberg reported that Moschetta is seeking class-action status for the fraud claims to allow US consumers to band together to press claims against Walmart.
“We take this matter seriously,” Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart, told Bloomberg via email. “We will review the allegations once we have received the complaint and respond appropriately with the court.”