Publix used to proudly display the wording ‘100 percent real grated Parmesan cheese’ on its store-brand bottles of the pungent and powdery white stuff.
But no more!
In recent months, the beloved Southeastern grocery chain has removed the words ‘100 percent real’ from the packaging. It’s a move that seems like it was prescient considering one disgruntled consumer is now suing Publix, saying its cheese ain’t what it seems to be.
Class-action lawsuit…about Parmesan cheese?!
The Orlando Sentinel reports a man named Eric Tamayo filed a lawsuit this week claiming that Publix’s Parmesan cheese is packed with undisclosed common fillers like powdered cellulose.
Tamayo had the cheese analyzed by a laboratory. He hasn’t yet disclosed the results that would say exactly which additives and fillers are present and in what quantities. But he’s obviously upset enough about the results to petition the court for class-action status on his lawsuit.
‘Publix has been able to command a price for the 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese Products higher than a fair market price and to induce purchases that otherwise would have not occurred,’ his complaint states.
Now, we should note that powdered cellulose is a fairly common filler in grated cheese that’s made from wood pulp. It’s a safe, anti-clumping additive that’s acceptable at a level of 2% to 4%.
So the brunt of Tamayo’s complaint is likely that it wasn’t disclosed as an ingredient in the Publix blend and that the grocer marketed its product as ‘100 percent real.’
This is not the first time the filler issue has come up
Earlier this year, Bloomberg tested a variety of store-bought Parmesan cheeses and found high levels of cellulose.
Kraft had 3.8%. Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand came in at 7.8%. And Jewel-Osco’s Essential Everyday brand topped out at 8.8%.
Whole Foods, meanwhile, registered a 0.3 percent even though cellulose was not listed as an ingredient. The upscale grocer later claimed the results may have been a false positive.
So after all of this…do you know what’s in your cheese?