In 1810, a U.S. patent for pineapple cheese was issued to L.M. Norton of Troy, Pennsylvania. Cheese is one of the oldest processed foods known to mankind, and process cheese products such as Cheez Whiz can add flavor to broccoli or cauliflower.
Cheese is perhaps the oldest processed food known to mankind and one of the most ubiquitous foodstuffs in the world. In 1910, the average American ate 5 lb of cheese per year, but that had grown to 28 lb per year by 1998. Process cheeses, around for more than 50 years, have had a great impact on this growth spurt.
Beginning with the basics, cheese is a concentrated dairy food made from milk. Two criteria used by the Food & Drug Administration to define cheeses and set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations are moisture content and milkfat content. Cheddar, for example, is allowed a maximum moisture content of 39% and must contain at least 50% milkfat. Cream cheese, on the other hand, is an unripened cheese that can have a maximum moisture content of 55% and must have at least 33% milkfat.
There are a number of different types of process cheese specified by FDA, and because the federal regulations stipulate that the type of cheese must be indicated on the package label, many people have been left scratching their heads wondering exactly what they are buying and consuming.
Visit “What’s That Stuff” to read more about the chemistry of cheese.
Excerpted with permission, Chemical & Engineering News
Copyright © 2000 American Chemical Society