Fred Meyer Says Cheese Is Not A Dairy Product

Go shopping for cheese at the Ballard Fred Myer in Seattle, and you’ll learn an interesting new fact about your food:

The check-er-outer lady looked at it a while and said (without the slightest trace of irony),

“I don’t think cheese is a dairy product.”

Oh. Um. Well. Yes. Um. WHAT?

“No, they don’t consider cheese a dairy product.”

With that newly created fact, the cashier refused to apply a store coupon for dairy products to a package of cheddar slices. When the columnist for The Stranger asked her who “they” are, she replied, “Fred Meyer Corporation.”

The columnist and his coupon-wielding friend saved the coupon for another day and purchased the cheese at full price, but we have a feeling a lot of our readers would not have let Fred Meyer off so easily.

“Cheese: The Totally Other Food Group. Apparently. Maybe From Space!” [The Stranger] (Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)
(Photo of tomato plant: Aine D)


Edit Your Comment

  1. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    And in other breaking news a stocker at a Piggly Wiggly claimed that a tomato is not a vegetable, it’s a fruit.

  2. Nick1693 says:

    Do they need to see the film “Where your cheese comes from”

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Fruits are the seed-bearing part of the plant. So by that rationale, cucumbers, squash, peppers, and green beans are also fruits.

  4. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    Plenty of cheese makers in Wisconsin will be shocked they’ve been wasting money buying milk from farmers all these decades.

  5. Duh cheese isn’t a dairy product.

    Cheese is its own food group. Things from one food group don’t fit in another.

    I thought everyone knew that.

  6. mariospants says:

    To be fair to the checkout girl, I’ll bet a lot of cheese slices and “cheese in a can” these days aren’t actually made from milk.

  7. SkokieGuy says:

    Where is my cheese? Someone moved my cheese!

  8. raleel says:

    To be fair, some “cheeses” barely qualify as dairy, because the milk content is pretty low. But in this case, I bet it’s not :)

  9. aloe vera says:

    Behold the power of cheese.

  10. GMFish says:

    According to Wikipedia, even processed cheese food is made from dairy products with the delightful addition of “emulsifiers, extra salt, food colorings, and/or whey.”

  11. sir_eccles says:

    It’s the new controversy that needs to be taught in schools….

    Intelligent food production!

    God put cows on this planet to test our faith. Cheese is in fact mana from heaven.

  12. Gopher bond says:

    I hanker for a hunk a

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    The post says it was chedder slices. When you slice cheese, the dairy escapes.

    This phenomenom is also true of calories in cake. The more you cut it, the more calories escape. That’s why smart women on diets will always ask for a tiny piece – no that’s too big, just a little tiny sliver……..

  14. Trickery says:

    One stupid cashier says something.. well.. Stupid. So they decide to make a blog post about it because she stupidly and obviously lied saying it was corporate policy. Get a life people. Stupid people are just that.. Stupid. Get over it.

  15. Wireless Joe says:

    Props to Stinkbug in the original Slog thread:

    “You should have used your iphone to show them that their main corporate office mentions cheese on the dairy page:

  16. vladthepaler says:

    Well, some items sold as cheese are so processed and full of artificial additives that depending on the particular product, she may have a point.

  17. I would be worried about eating cheese that the store says isn’t dairy. Maybe they know something about it I don’t.

  18. JustThatGuy3 says:


    Legally, the tomato is a vegetable in the US:


  19. Chairman-Meow says:

    They should have watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

    “He said blessed thou are the cheesemakers!”
    “Well, not so much the cheesemakers bu the makers of various diary products”
    “Oh, well there you go ….big nose”

  20. puka_pai says:


    When you slice cheese, the dairy escapes.

    I must remember to use this one day soon. It may take some practice to be able to do it with a straight face, though.

  21. tom2133 says:

    Maybe it’s “cheese food” that didn’t come from the dairy department.

    -Or maybe it’s government cheese. I don’t think that really qualifies as dairy at all.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Well then why is it that my lactose intolerant wife is in the bathroom for 2 hours if she eats cheese by accident?

  23. floraposte says:

    Cool, Passover-safe cheese!

  24. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    As I’ve said before, it’s often not a business’s fault. The quality of the low-level employees is a product of the local school system. Makes the difference between apathy and service

  25. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    Unfortuately, you can’t *teach* common sense, and some people have an appalling lack of common knowledge, i.e. Canada is a U.S. state, where is Iraq, my Dominican friend’s father is black! Ugh

  26. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    In fact, some common knowledge seems so uncommon sometimes, I should put “constitutional scholar” on my resume just for knowing the Bill of Rights and the Preamble to the Constitution

  27. TomCruisesTesticles says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: And if I run into enough people who don’t know cheese is dairy, I may add food scientist to my resume

  28. satoru says:

    The only logic I can think of is that this place has some expensive high end cheeses available. In those cases you’d probably not want to apply the discount, and instead it was intended for basic things like milk.

  29. Eels says:

    @MeSoHornsby: Actually, cheese is pretty low in lactose. So is yogurt. Two hours in the bathroom for accidental ingestion of cheese, which I’m guessing would mean a small amount, is pretty severe. Also, cheese tends to have the opposite effect on people if you know what I mean.

  30. Scuba Steve says:

    I’m not a principled guy by any means, but I’d fight for the coupon.

    It’s not just for the money, you’re combatting stupidity.

  31. ThinkerTDM says:

    @Trickery: 99.999 % of the problems reported here are not from policy, but from ignorant and poorly trained monkeys trying to follow policy. A stupid cashier thinking cheese is not a dairy product, and then not applying a coupon towards it, is no different than a service rep not giving a refund to a caller.

  32. Xerloq says:

    @mariospants: You mean like a cheddar cheese-food byproduct? Like Cheez Whiz Slices? That is definitely not dairy.

    Like those meat-food sticks they try to pass for jerky.

  33. SkokieGuy says:

    Perhaps we are being too harsh?

    The OP may have planned to make a Cheese Brassiere from the chedder slices, in which case we are not talking a dairy product, but a stylish garment.

    What might a Cheese Brassiere look like? []

  34. DashTheHand says:

    I can’t stop laughing at people linking Wikipedia articles as if they were law.

    And I mean I already used The Office video once today.

  35. homerjay says:

    Looks like that cashier needs to spend some time at Bovine University.

  36. shoegazer says:

    @DashTheHand: Don’t you worry about wikipedia! We’ll change it when we get home; we’ll change a LOT of things.

  37. NYGal81 says:

    @DashTheHand: If you read the linked article, you’ll notice the previous poster was likely referring to the referenced US court case that *legally* defined the tomato as a vegetable in the US.

    I can’t stop laughing at people who instantly dismiss information based on the source without bothering to read it first. Oh wait, yeah I can.

  38. krispykrink says:

    Well at least it was delicious dairy medium cheddar cheese. Had they been attempting to use the coupon for a pack of processed “cheese food” slices I’d say it’s not dairy either. That’s the stuff I feed to me cheese. And THEY wont even eat it!

    If this moron cashier can declare dairy isn’t dairy, I can declare her not human and there’s nothing to stop me from shooting her.

  39. I had a cow farmer tell me — no lie! — that cows not only “don’t” eat grass, but that cows CAN’T eat grass!

    I was like, “Wow, the CAFOs have definitely won when cow farmers no longer know how to feed cows.”

  40. ospreyguy says:


    Nice… You had to take that class to?

  41. TVarmy says:

    @johnfrombrooklyn: It’s a vegetable for tax purposes. But all its friends call it a fruit. Really, it’s like how some people call me sir and some people call me bro. All about context.

  42. They should have looked at their grocery list and decided whether or not they needed that processed “dairy” product, my guess was that it was not a necessity.

    I suggest that when confronted by the cashier they should have cut the cheese.

  43. AndrewJC says:

    SkokieGuy: Where is my cheese? Someone moved my cheese!

    Oh God, not that stupid book again. :)

    Our CEO mentioned that book to us like it was some kind of gospel, and when I read it I realized that he was just trying to tell us “Oh, by the way, there are going to be some huge changes here and you’re probably not going to like them, but deal with it or find another job. “

    Not that the book wasn’t poignant, but man, did I ever feel like I was being talked down to. I can summarize everything that was said in “Who Moved My Cheese?” in one simple phrase:

    Shit happens.

  44. SpdRacer says:

    @TomCruisesTesticles: You mean Canada isn’t our 52nd state (after Puerto Rico of course)!

  45. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    Wow that’s a newsflash for the lactose intolerant out there. Feel free to eat as much cheese as you want, everyone!

  46. katylostherart says:

    so what IS it classified as?

  47. britne says:

    @GMFish: Uhh… even whey is dairy.

    But read the comments on the original article – most likely the register called it a “deli” item since the sliced cheese is over with deli meats and other cold-case items, rendering the coupon useless on that item. FWIW.

  48. TheGoodReverend says:

    Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, I think two different definitions of “dairy product” might be at work here. The most common definition is a food product that fits in the dairy food group. This is what the shopper had in mind and probably what most people think of when they hear the term “dairy product.” Alternatively, “dairy product” could mean a product that is sold in the dairy section of the store. Perhaps this is the definition the store was going by, and the cheese in question was excluded–some supermarkets sell cheese in their deli section, for instance, in addition to the dairy section.

  49. mferrari says:

    @Inglix_the_Mad: I could see a lot more than shock from them, Velveeta is practically a swear up there.

  50. tc4b says:


    So, you’re saying they were right not to accept the coupon because the cashier was “stupid?”

  51. stopxstart says:

    There’s a Fred Meyer Corporation?

  52. perruptor says:

    so what IS it classified as?


  53. Charmander says:

    No, Fred Meyer is now owned by Kroger.

    I think TheGoodReverend has it right. I think the coupon is for items sold in the dairy section, not the deli. I have the same coupon, so I know how they work. The cashier scans it, they don’t determine whether it is valid or not. It probably wasn’t accepted in the register/computer as valid for the deli cheese.

    Nevertheless the coupon is vague – it says “Save __ on ANY DAIRY PURCHASE.” The cashier should have overriden it and given the discount anyways.

  54. Jevia says:

    I would have taken the cheese and coupon to the customer service desk and gotten the money there. I’ve had to do that a few times with coupons.

  55. @satoru:

    Fred Meyers in Ballard has many things, but none of them are “high end.” This is particularly true for food products. Think k-mart with a grocery store level quality. Remember, this is just a few blocks from where the city of Seattle’s latest city architectural landmark stood- an old abandoned Denny’s restaurant.

  56. RicoChico says:

    Hey guys,

    I was a cashier at Publix in my freshmen year of college, and they always distinguished certain types of cheese to be “processed food products,” and not “dairy foods.” Whenever someone would come in with a WIC check (a government-sponsored check) with an order of cheese, I would often have to go back to the aisle with the customer and choose a correct brand of cheese.

    Maybe the coupon could only be honored for dairy products, but not processed foods.

    Or maybe the cashier isn’t educated, and if that’s the case, it’s sad to make such a big case about it.

  57. RandomHookup says:

    I’ve heard of cashiers refusing coupons on “any brand of milk” because the package didn’t say Any Brand milk.

  58. Tonguetied says:

    No, you’re right I think the average Consumerist reader would have asked for a manager, raised a stink, refused to buy any groceries or would have stood there waiting and patiently refusing to pay until the coupon was applied.

    At least those would be some of the options I would have considered.

  59. Maybe they were talking about Kraft cheese which is mainly made of plastic.

  60. cockeyed says:

    You know you spelled Meyer two different ways in this article?

  61. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: Strangely, this reminded me of The Fifth Element:

    “Are you classified as Human?”
    “Negative: I am a meat popcicle.”

  62. BigBoat says:

    I like that Fred Meyer. As people have said, probably just a dumb cashier.

  63. What about Vegan cheese, made from “Soy Milk” — That is DEFINITELY not dairy in any WHEY, shape or form (Sorry, that pun was too easy)

  64. Quilt says:

    Well I’ve never seen cheese coming from an utter….

  65. Bad_Brad says:

    Part of me gives the checker some sympathy, and even admiration, for working a $10 per hour job and still caring enough to try to enforce a rule. The other part of me is a bit amazed that she does not know much about where certain food products come from.

  66. mike says:

    This can be VERY dangerous. If someone who is allergic to dairy actually buys their cheese and suffers a reaction, all they have to say is that it’s not a dairy product.

    This would be an interesting social test. Go back and ask. Unwrap the cheese and say, right before you eat it, that you’re highly allergic to dairy and you’re glad to have found a product that isn’t dairy.

    Let’s see how they respond.

  67. mike says:

    @NYGal81: Tomatoes are fruit by definition. Because of exporting laws and the like, the government says their vegetables…probably to get more money or something like that.

    If it looks like a fruit, tastes like a fruit, and acts like a fruit, it’s still a vegetable.

  68. TechnoDestructo says:


    The emulsifiers are what make them so useful. Mix in like 1/3 Cheez Whiz or Velveeta with GOOD cheese, and the good cheese will melt and mix almost as well as the Pasteurized Processed Cheese Food Product. And you’ll taste the real cheese, not the Cheez Whiz.

    That crap isn’t for use on its own. It is a tool to increase the versatility of other cheeses.

  69. jacksbrokenego says:

    Clearly he was trying to use the coupon to buy fromunda cheese, not a dairy product at all :)

  70. dveight says:

    The cashier some be on the same train of thought as Pringles. Cheese is not a dairy product just like how Pringles are not potato chips!

  71. mini_kir says:

    I used to work at Fred Meyer (in fact just quit for the 2nd time as this time it was a 2nd job and I was growing tired of it) and I also get the rewards rebates (from the store card) in the mail. This is where the “Save $3 on Any Dairy Purchase” coupon is from.

    In the store’s defense (don’t get me wrong here, the cashier was stupid) the coupon doesn’t show anything but milk and sour cream, cottage cheese and yogurt in the picture. However, Fred Meyer’s “Dairy” section is 99% of the time dedicated to a WALL of the store (or a major portion of a wall). The cheese (slices, non-cottage) is actually down an aisle with beer and meat.

    So what I’m saying is that the coupon may not have even scanned properly in the system with cheese in the order(knowing Fred Meyer’s point of sale system VERY well) but the cashier was retarded to just assume that and be a bitch about it.

    That is all. :) I’m a vegan so I get mad when they send me crap like this but it’s the same coupons for every one! :(

  72. ideagirl says:

    @speedwell: Yes, according to my friend the plant scientist, that is correct.

  73. BlazerUnit says:

    @Trickery: Sometimes, commentors make stupid complaints about a blog detailing stupid things a cashier said.

    Should we get over that as well, or did I just go over your head?

  74. I asked the girl in the deli what kind of cheese they offered for their sub sandwiches.

    Figured it was a reasonable question.

    I was expecting Colby, Cheeder, Swiss, Provolone etc.

    I was told White and Yellow.


    I bet the Fred Myers cashier was the sister of my deli girl.

  75. Petra says:

    You ought to have asked where she thought cheese comes from. You might have gotten some interesting answers!

  76. floraposte says:

    @mamalicious: So if “dairy” means “things sold in the dairy section,” does that mean eggs could be dairy? That’d be one talented cow.

    @linus: There’s no “dairy” allergy, though. There are allergies to milk proteins, and there are deficiencies in the enzyme that digests milk sugar, and there are plenty of “not dairy” products that will cause problems in both situations.

  77. Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

    Let me take a stab at this:
    Usually gourmet cheeses picked up in the DELI section have to get rung up under the DELI key…..
    Us everyday folk buy ours in the dairy section.

  78. RvLeshrac says:


    From what I’ve heard, “Government Cheese” is actually quite good. No one is pretending that it is gourmet cheese by any stretch of the imagination, but it reportedly tastes far better than Velveeta and other “pasteurized processed cheese foods”.

  79. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @RvLeshrac: “Oh, you ain’t had a grilled cheese sandwich until you’ve had one made with guh-ment cheese. No, not ‘government’ cheese; guh-ment cheese.”
    – Steve Harvey

    Whether or not it’s because the cheese is from the deli section the cashier saying that they don’t consider cheese a dairy product is…sad.

  80. Meathamper says:

    Yeah, you idiots, don’t you know that contrary to public knowledge, ice cubes are sugary substances, Chex is really just chocolate shavings, and cheese is actually not a real food!


  81. Snowlovers says:

    Hanlon’s razor:
    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

  82. Neoprincess says:

    @speedwell: botanically speaking all the items you mentioned are fruits: cucumbers, squash, peppers, and green beans.

  83. deletealt says:

    fred meyer is a bit crazy sometimes… why yes I’d like my hair dye to be on the same shelf as women’s underwear WTF.

    but, I really really wish they had a “freddys” in california because they seem to have a bizarrly freakish amout of variety while still not being as low quality as some stores
    Cough! (target) Cough! (walmart) Cough!

  84. Anonymous says:

    Cheese at Fred Meyer is sold in the service deli, hanging deli, and natural food sections NOT the dairy section. If you try to get a discount for a coupon that says “10% off all dairy department items” you can’t use that coupon when you buy an item (cheese) from another department. Just like you can’t use a home electronics department coupon for an electronic game from the toy department. It is very simple. The cashier was correct and YOU are wrong.