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Mac ‘n’ Cheese — How Many Wheys?

The Cheesiest claim has been challengedA recent blog criticized Kraft’s Macaroni & Cheese dinner, a family and kids favorite for decades, for selling a quick meal product made with “cheese products,” not real cheese.

[social_buttons]On my next shopping trip, I bought a box to investigate what was in that powdery but tasty cheese sauce.  A blue and gold ribbon printed on the box already told me I was going to get The Cheesiest and the “original flavor.”  The ingredients include CHEESE SAUCE (WHEY, MILKFAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE . . . MILK, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE). The dinner also contains wheat, milk.

What Is All That Stuff?

Somehow there’s a cheese substitute in all those ingredients.  Whey is a cheese byproduct that’s also fed to baby calves in milk replacers so farmers can use fluid milk to make real cheese and butter for humans.  Cheese cultures are common ingredients in homemade cheese, buttermilk, and cheese products and recipes. (See www.thefarm.org).  Milkfat is also used to make cheese.

Is the Oldie a Goodie?

You say, what happened to the good old non-processed cheese days? Well, Kraft started as a real cheese company, founded by cheese wholesaler James L. Kraft whose aim was to provide customers with nutritious, low-cost cheese products.  A big change came in 1916 when an employee discovered a way to make what is now American Cheese from milk solids, a byproduct.  Kraft began selling its macaroni and cheese with packets taped to boxes of macaroni after marketing “cheese dust” for soups and baking failed. (See Pop-Cult.com).

Own Your Recipe

At our house, we eat varieties of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, including white cheddar and Three Cheese.  The bulk of our dairy food comes from the half-stick (4 tablespoons) of Land O’ Lakes Butter used in cooking. If cheese cultures don’t cut it, keep Land O’ Lakes or your local creamery in business — and maybe use two cups of thick Vitamin D milk from the farm, too.

3 comments
  1. Steve

    So are you suggesting that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is health because it contains milk byproducts?

    No, I’m suggesting that] milk byproducts are not] UNhealthy necessarily. Too often we don’t realize, for example, that cheese cultures come from cheese. And I’ve yet to see macaroni and cheese marketed with real slices of cheese in the box. It’s like the milk solids in American cheese. It’s not] real cheese but there’s nothing innately wrong with milk solids. As with other aspects of this debate, if we want real cheese, buy it and eat it. If we don’t like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese made from cheese cultures, don’t buy it.

  2. Linda

    I think the main problem with Kraft mac and cheese is that it is not whole food and contains artificial color. Our country needs to get away from processed and packaged foods. Many of the artificial colors and chemicals have been linked to allergies and ADHD.

  3. Gina

    This topic is really hard for me. I grew up loving (really, big time) Kraft Mac & Cheese. But since I’ve had children of my own, and have educated myself on food, nutrition and wellness, I can’t feel good about feeding this to my kids.

    We don’t have artificial food colors or preservatives in our house and I’ve tought my kids that mac & cheese shouldn’t be bright orange.

    There’s also very little nutritional quality compared to what I can make from scratch. Yes, that takes time and maybe more money but my kids are worth it.

    When we need convenience we go for the organic box – I know there won’t be artificial or low quality ingredients so it’s the next best thing (for us) to home made.

    I really hope to someday see less-processed package foods without the artificial ingredients. Kraft would win a lot of hearts over by making this move.

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