What Is The Definition of "Real Kraft Cheese"?

First it was guacamole with hardly any avocado in it. Then, Capri-Sun’s “All Natural” label came under-fire. Now it looks like “Real Kraft Cheese” isn’t so “real” after all. From Crain’s:

These products get their flavor from natural and synthetic ingredients that add up to processed cheese — made in a laboratory, not on a dairy farm…
Kraft, like many food makers, often walks a fine line with its marketing, testing the limits of federal labeling regulations that are often vague or confusing.

Nowhere is that confusion more evident than on products containing Kraft’s signature food: cheese…. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Three Cheese lists no varieties of cheese among its ingredients (a Kraft spokeswoman says the three cheeses are a processed cheddar blend, Monterey Jack and blue cheese), although it does list cheese culture, milk and sodium tripolyphosphate.Many products with the “Real Kraft Cheese” logo, like Easy Cheese, Oscar Mayer Cheesiest Cheese Dogs and Cheez Whiz dip, don’t list any natural cheese as an ingredient.”

Crain’s says calling Kraft’s processed-cheese product “real” cheese is legal.

“Calling processed-cheese ingredients real cheese is legal, because while the Food and Drug Administration regulates many food-related claims, defining terms like “low-fat” and “organic,” it doesn’t define other terms, including “natural” and “real.” That means manufacturers can use those terms as they see fit, as long as they do so “in a manner that is truthful and not misleading,” according to an FDA spokesman.”

As far as the guacamole and Capri-Sun go, Kraft has changed the labels on both. —MEGHANN MARCO

What is ‘Real Kraft Cheese’? [Crain’s Chicago Business] (Thanks, Kerry!)

High-Fructose Corn Syrup No Longer “Natural”

Kraft Lawsuit: Capri Sun Isn’t “All Natural”

Kraft: Fake Guacamole Lawsuit


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    I thought Real Kraft Cheese meant orange colored cheese-flavored dust, and I assumed the adjective real was attached to Kraft, not cheese.

  2. BillyShears says:

    A good rule of thumb is that if the label has any variant of “Cheese Food,” just walk further down the aisle for the stuff that, while more expensive, wasn’t made in a lab.

  3. Youthier says:

    I guess I get the point of the objections but yeah… I don’t think most people think of that stuff as cheese, let alone real cheese.

  4. corporatedrone says:

    Is it really a shocker to anyone that products like Easy Cheese, Oscar Mayer Cheesiest Cheese Dogs and Cheez Whiz dip aren’t made from real cheese? The artificial, plastic-like quality is what makes them taste soooo good!

  5. kerry says:

    @BillyShears –
    The weird thing about the “cheese food” label is that apparently it was too real for some Kraft products, which now have to be relabeled “cheese product.” They can’t even call them food!

  6. faust1200 says:

    Everybody knows it’s cheese-food. That’s what you use to feed cheese.

  7. Kornkob says:

    yes– I think there are people who don’t know the difference between cheese and processed cheese food products. In fact, over a decade ago I had just gotten out of basic training (Fort McClellan) and went to a resturant (Shoney’s) with some of the guys. I ordered the salad bar after asking if there was cheese on it because I hadn’t had any real cheese for 2 months. The ‘real cheese’ that was there was shredded Velveeta. No one at the table understood why I was upset because they all thought that it was cheese and I should STFU.

    I got them back at the airport. Being the only guy who was 21, I sat at the bar and had a Jack and coke in front of them.

  8. RokMartian says:

    I think they mean it’s “real” as opposed to imaginary cheese.

  9. timmus says:

    We usually always avoid the “cheese food” stuff. But I have to say that for melted stuff (like nachos), real cheese sucks because it melts into an oily mess.

  10. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    With Kraft, I thought “real” referred to “plastic,” and not “cheese.”

  11. cgmaetc says:

    Are there people who don’t know the difference between real and processed cheese? Just ask my grandmother, who grew up dirt poor in Texas. When she complained that my mothers enchiladas weren’t ‘cheesy’ enough, she promptly bought some Velveeta and proclaimed, “Now THAT’s some real cheese!”

  12. CaptainRoin says:

    The cheese that is used in this stuff all starts its life as ‘real’ cheese and is ‘reprocessed’ into the cheese powder you find in your mac and cheese. The cheese is made in vats actually, not laboratories. It wouldn’t be very efficient to make cheese in test tubes.

  13. CaptainRoin says:

    ok… its the same as this


    but in powder form.

  14. ElizabethD says:

    I have never pretended that Velveeta, for example, was real cheese… but in my weak trailer-park moments, I love the orange stuff. –Just like I can eat a tub of Cool-Whip with a spoon, although I know it is not whipped cream.

  15. tz says:

    It’s Witch-Kraft “Real” Cheese perhaps? One of Harry Potter’s potions solidified and …

    They say it’s only real, but it sounds complex enough to have an imaginary part. The square root of the negative one who must not be named.

  16. vanilla-fro says:

    I thought the “Real” meant that you could touch it, taste, smell it. I love the stuff, there’s nothing better than Cheese Food Product, well maybe SPAM, but that’s it.

  17. etinterrapax says:

    I know I’ve mentioned this book before, but Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer has a section on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and how until about ten years ago, it did have grated cheese in it. According to this book, Kraft stopped using it in an effort to cut costs at the manufacturing end, in order to compete with discounters’ house brands (like Wal-Mart, which sells the same product, with real cheese, for half the price per box). Their contention is that Kraft is struggling in food categories because consumers are either trading up to a gourmet or organic product (like Annie’s), or trading down to a house brand so that they can trade up in some other category. The book’s meant for businesses, but its insights are really fascinating, and most jibed with my informal observations.

  18. Melsky says:

    Here in Canada they are not allowed to call that stuff mac and cheese. It’s called Kraft Dinner.

  19. karimagon says:

    Anyone else remember the old Kraft commercials that denounced other brands of “imitation” cheese made with “oil and water” in favor of Kraft, supposedly real cheese? Ah, I love irony.

  20. madderhatter says:

    Real cheese in what sense ? Isn’t cheese of any flavor man-made ? It’s not like cheddar cheese comes right out of a cow. I have to agree with ElizabethD – velveeta is da bomb !

  21. M2T says:

    In Europe and other countries Kraft isn’t allowed to use the word “cheese” on its product packages for good reason! The mac & cheese boxes in the Canada for example say “Diner Kraft Dinner…the Original”

  22. aimseeee says:

    Please don’t let the anti-fake-cheese Nazis take away my Mac and Cheese. I don’t care if it’s natural, processed, or made from baby salamanders, Kraft Mac and Cheese is the 2nd best stuff on earth.

    The best being, of course (thank you segfault) Canadian Kraft dinner. That stuff is radioactive orange and 100% wonderful. More chemical names I don’t recognize in the ingredients = more awesome. Period.

  23. acambras says:

    Re Cheez Whiz — If cheese is spelled with a Z, I figure it’s not real cheese. Just like when crab is spelled “Krab.”

    But yeah, I think it’s possible to appreciate “fake” cheese (cheese food, cheese product) for what it is. Just like Taco Bell isn’t authentic Mexican food, but it sure is tasty.