News Feed: Wood Pulp in Cheese, Starbucks Sugar Shocker, Cage-Free Trader Joe’s

Is there wood pulp in your grated Parmesan? How much sugar is in your Starbucks drink? Plus: Trader Joe’s goes 100 percent cage-free.
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Grater and cheese

Photo by: Joan Vicent Cantó Roig

Joan Vicent Cantó Roig

Cheese, please

Have we all been sprinkling wood on our pasta and pizza? Some suppliers of grated Parmesan cheese have been filling their products with cellulose — an anti-clumping additive made from wood pulp — or using other, less expensive cheeses and failing to disclose the actual ingredients on the label, Bloomberg Business reports. One cheese maker has estimated that 20 percent of hard Italian cheeses are mislabeled. Another told Bloomberg that only one-third of the 28 brands of grated Parmesan it tested appeared to be accurately labeled, in terms of protein levels and fillers. In response to a Bloomberg investigation, in which a lab test confirmed that several store brands contained high levels of cellulose, several stores have begun pulling the questionable products from their shelves.

Too-sweet treat

We all love to reward ourselves with a Starbucks beverage from time to time, but those trying to keep tabs on their sugar intake may want to be mindful of what they order. Recent research released by Action on Sugar, a U.K. group dedicated to reducing the amount of sugar in processed foods, indicates that 98 percent of hot flavored drinks sold at major coffee-shop chains “would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving — with 35% containing the same amount or more sugar than a can of Coca Cola.” Topping the group’s list of hot-drink “worst offenders” was Starbucks Venti Hot Mulled Fruit (offered only in U.K. Starbucks stores) — Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon, which it determined contained “a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar — more than THREE times the maximum ADULT daily intake of free sugars (7tsp/d).” Starbucks’ Mocha with Whipped Cream (Short), Classic Hot Chocolate (Short) Pumpkin Spice Latte with Whip (Short) and Caramel Macchiatto (Short) each contains a modest-by-comparison four teaspoons of sugar per serving.

Egg-cellent news

Trader Joe’s is going cage-free. The grocery chain, under pressure from consumers, recently announced that all the eggs it sells in its stores will come from cage-free suppliers, although the stores’ transition to 100 percent cage-free will not be super-speedy. Since 2005, when Trader Joe’s announced that its store-brand eggs would be from cage-free chickens, the chain says demand for cage-free eggs has grown; today, cage-free eggs account for 62 percent of its egg sales. In a letter to customers earlier this month, Trader Joe’s said it planned to offer only cage-free eggs in its stores in Western states by 2020 and roll the change out to all stores by 2025. However, the company said, “If market conditions allow us to accomplish these goals earlier, while still providing our customers outstanding value, we will do so.”

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