Exec Of Company That Sold Fake Parmesan Cheese May Avoid Jail With Food Pantry Work

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Remember the company that peddled imitation grated Parmesan cheese and billed it as the real deal (silly question — of course you do, no one could forget such a crime against cheese)? U.S. prosecutors are now asking that the executive of Castle Cheese Inc. be sentenced to time working in a food pantry or soup kitchen.

In a move that shows the U.S. apparently trusts Michelle Myrter, president of Castle, to potentially come into contact with real Parmesan cheese, prosecutors filed sentencing documents this week asking that she get zero to six months in jail, as well as community service, Bloomberg reports. Her lawyer is asking for probation.

Myrter pleaded guilty in March to federal misdemeanor charges involving food adulteration. Her company and two others associated with her family were accused of selling imitation grated cheese as real, and of passing off cheaper cheeses like cheddar and Swiss as the more expensive Parmesan and Romano.

“Specifically, your product labels declare that the products are parmesan cheese or romano cheese, but they are in fact a mixture of trimmings of various cheeses and other ingredients,” the Food and Drug Administration told the company in a 2013 warning letter. “In addition, your parmesan cheese products do not contain any parmesan cheese.”

Universal Cheese & Drying Inc. and International Packing LLC pleaded guilty as well to charges of conspiracy and money laundry, and then ceased operations. They’ve been unable to pay the $1 million in fines ordered as part of their plea agreement.

“The motive for doing so was simple – it was less costly for the Corporate Defendants to produce cheap, fake cheese while customers paid premium prices for real cheese,” prosecutors wrote in the sentencing documents. The companies “reaped the benefit of the difference between the lower costs and the higher revenue.”

Parmesan Fraudster May Get Food Pantry Time Instead of Jail [Bloomberg]

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