By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to cheese, it’s common practice for food companies to use a small amount of cellulose to keep grated parmesan from clumping. 2 to 4 percent is considered acceptable in the industry.

“Most cheeses, whether it’s parmesan or not, are most likely going to have some cellulose as one of the ingredients,” said Christina Meyer-Jax, a registered dietitian and assistant professor in nutrition and exercise science at St. Kate’s.

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Bloomberg tested SuperValu’s “Essential Everyday” 100 percent Grated Parmesan as 8.8 percent cellulose.
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“I wasn’t surprised there was a sensationalist headline around it,” said Meyer-Jax. While added cellulose may be taking away less pure cheese, it’s not a health concern, or wood, she said.

“It is a plant fiber. The fact is that when you say things like wood fiber, it gets a lot of attention,” she said.

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A representative for SuperValu told WCCO they had not seen Bloomberg’s study or data.

“We take all questions and concerns about our products seriously and are conducting our own investigation into this matter,” said the representative.

“The problem isn’t the safety of the product, it’s am I getting cheese or am I getting cellulose? And I think, as a consumer myself, I want to get cheese,” said Meyer-Jax.

SuperValu said anyone who is not happy with their Essnetial Everyday parmesan cheese product can return it for a refund.

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Wal-Mart stores’ Great Value 100 percent Grated Parmesan Cheese also registered high, at 7.8 percent cellulose.

Kate Raddatz