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That Shredded Parmesan in Your Fridge Might Actually Be Wood, Says FDA

Is nothing sacred anymore?

Kelly Hau/Flickr

In this week's edition of cheese-related atrocities: A Food and Drug Administration inspection has determined that you may have unknowingly been sprinkling wood shavings on your spaghetti and meatballs, according to Bloomberg News.

The culprit in this cheese faux pas was a Pennsylvania-based company called Castle Cheese Inc. The FDA determined that the company's "100 percent Parmesan cheese" included such fillers as wood pulp, cellulose, and cheddar — but no actual Parmesan. The company's president is scheduled to plead guilty to criminal charges this month and could get a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Bloomberg also conducted its own tests of store-bought cheeses and found that they had more fillers than they perhaps should: Cellulose levels in certain cheeses (including Walmart's Great Value brand "100% Grated Parmesan Cheese") greatly exceeded the "acceptable level" as dictated by a cheese technologist the news organization consulted. (Yes, cheese technologist is apparently a real job.) Moral of the story: If you want pure Parmesan, you'd better grate it yourself.

So long as you're examining the Parmesan cheese in your fridge, you might want to check your olive oil too: Fraud in that industry is rampant, with some claiming that up to 70 percent of the extra-virgin olive oil sold in the U.S. market isn't qualified to be labeled as such.

Meanwhile, a whole batch of actual real cheese is meeting its end in a Wisconsin landfill, thanks to some thieves who stole the $70,000 worth of cheese, which was deemed unsellable and resigned to its fate of never reaching the mouths of die-hard cheese lovers.