Is Shredded Cheese Healthy?

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 and not using shredded cheese from a bag. Someone asked me why I did that, and I didn’t really know. So I started doing some research and this is what I came up with.

 

What is the difference in shredded cheese and block cheese?

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?

wood pulp

 

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 a package than there actually is.

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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?

  1. It stabilizes food
  2. Decreases fat
  3. Adds fake fiber
  4. 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. Source

potato-starch-250x250

 

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. Wall paper, paper bags, cheese that my family eats…Good deal.

 

If you are watching your carb intake you may want to shy away from some of these products that are infused with potato starch, seeing that is has 10 grams of carbs per table spoon.

 

 

Cheese

 

 

 

Why we buy shredded cheese?

  1. Convenience: It is a touch easier to buy a bag of shredded cheese and just pull it out and use what you need than it is to shred a block of cheese and use it. I get it because I do it too. But it is worth a little bit more trouble to avoid the extra additives and fillers that go into the processing of shredded cheese.

 

  1. Advantages over block cheese:
  • No extra utensil to wash. (You have a dishwasher, correct?)
  • No extra time taken to grate it. (About 90 seconds: I know how valuable those 90 seconds are, but I believe you can spare 90 seconds out of your day to keep your 3 year old from eating wood chips.)
  • No sticking together. (Grate it when you need it instead of all at the same time to keep it from sticking as much when stored.)

 

Hope this sheds some light on why its better to buy block cheese over bagged cheese.

Here are 2 more sources for my info
Source 1
Source 2
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QUESTION:

Does knowing this make you want to buy block cheese from now on?

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47 thoughts on “Is Shredded Cheese Healthy?”

  1. Actually Cellulose is the sugar in ALL plants that your body uses as fiber. You want to know why those Brussels sprouts make you run to the bathroom so fast when nothing else would help? Cellulose. It is in all plants. The starch is there to help soak the grease up so you don’t come out with a disgusting blob of greasy food when you cook with cheese. It’s not some kind of scam to poison you, it’s basic marketing. They know that cheese constipates so they put the core thing your body needs to counteract it. They also know that cheese melts into a greasy, goopy, mess that will make everything soggy so they used starch, which is another thing your body needs to function properly, to help make the goop a little more sturdy and a little less greasy. Possibly look into basic biology before throwing people under the bus over cheese.

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    1. Nikole
      THanks a ton for the comment and your knowledge. It was never my intention to “Throw anyone under the bus” I was just making people aware of what was in the cheese that people are buying. I was one of those people. We have since started shredding our own cheese.
      Thanks again for your comment and further knowledge on the subject.

      Like

  2. Some of us buy pre-shredded/grated cheese because we’re disabled, because the amount of physical energy grating block cheese requires makes cooking whatever recipe it is literally not possible. Seriously. Also, what takes a healthier person 90 seconds tends to take me five or six minutes, at a minimum.

    Minor detail: no, not everyone has a dishwasher. (Often, just having to prepare something and then clean up afterwards means the thing doesn’t get prepared, because I know I won’t be able to do the cleanup if I do the prep.)

    (No, I’m not quite at the getting-Meals-On-Wheels delivered stage, but it’s unfortunately going to happen in a year or two, at most. And with a food additive allergy or two, and a need to avoid sweetened things, the meals they provide are… problematic.)

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  3. “Potato starch is used in wallpaper adhesive and in the process of making paper bags.” You know what else is used in both of those things? Water. Also, did you know cinnamon is made from tree bark!?! Better stop consuming those too. Why is it that when cleaners and other industrial products use ingredients that you can eat, those products are considered safe, but when the opposite is true (food ingredients that are used in industrial products) that is cause for concern? Lose the double standard and stop the fear mongering.

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    1. Jessica
      Thanks for the comment. Did not mean to make anyone upset at all. Just want to make people aware. It alarmed me, thus my family and I started shredding our own cheese. Sorry to upset you. Have a great day

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  4. I had been told this from a food blogger. Another reason to shred your own is because it melts better because it doesn’t have these ingredients in them.

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  5. When you’re concerned about eating an additive that comes from potatoes but not the fact that the dairy in your cheese has puss cells in it from a cow? Or that the milk itself is made for an 800 pound baby calf?

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  6. Picky fear-mongering. And no, not everyone has a dishwasher. You know what else is in wallpaper paste? Water! *gasp* And… it’s made of chemicals! Danger! Danger!

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  7. This has definitely changed my mind about shredded cheese! And, not for nothing, but I don’t have a dishwasher…surely I’m not the only one?

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  8. I eat fairly healthy but shredding my own cheese was something I didn’t want to do for convenience sake. I finely made the switch and it’s not so bad. I shred up a couple blocks in my hand grater, takes maybe 5-10 minutes. Then I freeze it in baking sheets then put in bags. Then it’s easier just to get out the amount I want. Not so bad.

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  9. The natamycin that is in shredded cheese is a bit of a turn off for me. It is a mold inhibitor.

    Freshly shredded tastes better also.

    Thanks for the article!

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  10. I got a great tip from Jamie Oliver – whenever I have a bit of cheese left over, I grate it and put it in a little tub in the freezer. It stays beautifully separated, keeps longer and is quick and easy to grab and use. No additives, either!

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  11. Both are food items that people eat when eat plants and specific plants (potatoes). Why stir the pot about naturally occuring good stuff. Maybe more biology and less fear before writing again.

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    1. Joe
      Thanks for the comment. I have to admit I do not know a lot about biology. I do know there are a lot of people out there that appreciated the article. I am so sorry you didn’t. Thanks again for you comment

      Like

  12. When we make fondue, we shred our own cheese from blocks BUT we add cornstarch to keep it from sticking together and to thicken the fondue.

    I don’t see the big health problems with pre-shredded cheese! We use it all the time for tacos, augmenting frozen pizzas, etc.

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    1. Jeb
      Thanks for the comment. That’s totally up to you some don’t know what is in their food. I am simply trying to inform people of what is out there.
      thanks again

      Like

  13. As much as I’d like to shred my own, I need it done for me. My hands and elbows can’t do it. And after multiple back surgeries, I can’t stand too long so I have to do what I have to do. Hands, elbows and back also mean I have to make sure the cleanup is minimal

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  14. Hello, I am a 3rd year food science major and I would like to come back to some points made and explain why you are not poisoning your family and why you should continue to buy shredded cheese!
    Ok so first of cellulose is found in every plant on earth, in fact it’s the most abundant material on the planet! The reason it is made from wood chips and cotton is because they are cheap. It could just as easily be made from apples, celery, carrots, kale or literally any other plant. Also cellulose is fiber, plain and simple. I’m not sure what she means by fake fiber. How cellulose or fiber work is the saccharides in the cellulose are formed through 1, 4 beta bonds that our bodies don’t have the enzymes to break down. So it feeds out guy micro floria and helps clean out the intestines when we pass it. Also cellulose is a great additive to many diet products because it fills us up without the calories and isn’t that what we want? Also it is works as a great natural anti-caking agent. In a food industry who is tryin to go more and more natural this is a great solution to many chemical anti caking agents.
    I also don’t understand the hesitation towards potato starch. Yes, it is in these products, but think about this, water is too and it’s in every on of your cleaning products as well. Just because it is contained in something you would never consume doesn’t mean it is enediable. She is correct on the process of how it is made, which is from potatoes. This is a natural product that is in every French fry, baked potato, mash potato or any other potato product you have every consumed. She is also correct about the high carb content in potato starch. Starches are a form of carbohydrates, so this makes perfect sense. However, this will be reflected on the nutrient label.
    Well I hope you all have a lovely day and keep enjoying the convince of shredded cheese 🙂

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  15. You do know that anytime you eat plants you are eating cellulose right? Next you will have people calling for the removal of cellulose from vegetables!

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  16. I always shred my own cheese because it tastes so much better and melts nicer. I’m totally not offended by your harmless dishwasher comment. Mine is broke and I can’t buy another faster! Washing a cheese grater sucks! Definitely going to shred, freeze on a sheet pan and then put in ziplock bags. What an awesome suggestion!

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  17. I understand the issue about potato starch adding carbs. However, you seem very disturbed about eating “wood chips” but I didn’t see any explanation as to why the cellulose is harmful. If it isn’t harmful, what is the point?

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    1. Jerry,
      Thanks for the comment. They point is I wanted to make people aware of woods chips being in their food.
      Some people don’t care and some do.

      Like

  18. Being a low carb person, I checked on this, and you should know, they use so little potato starch that it might only add 4 carbs to an entire 8 oz bag of cheese. Why sensationalize it and risk panicking people? Oh yeah, to get people to click the link. Wish people would post the whole story, once in a while, instead of picking and choosing to suit themselves. smdh

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  19. I j buy block cheese,then run it through the food processor. I like the flavor of real cheese, over the flavor of the cheap cheeses you can get in bags. I used to work in a cheese factory, and there is a lot of difference between cheap cheese and the good stuff. A little of the good stuff is a lot more satisfying.

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    1. I do this, too. If I’ve gotten a 2 pound block of cheese on sale, I shred 3/4 of it in the processor, and then freeze the shredded cheese. Keeps a long time that way…

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  20. Yes, I can see cheese companies using cellulose as an “anti-sticking” agent in grated cheese and some going beyond that using it as a “filler” to sell less cheese product for the same price, but I don’t agree to your “scare tactic” of wood chips! Being a retired science/ biology educator, cellulose is a plant sugar. That means it is in ALL plants, celery, spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, romaine lettuce,… and trees! The cellulose powder is MOST LIKELY from one of these typically edible plants. It is very UNLIKELY that it from TREES!

    Like

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