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jordym84's avatar

If it's not "real milk," then what is it?

Asked by jordym84 (4732 points ) November 30th, 2012

The other day I bought a package of sliced mild cheddar cheese from Walmart (Great Value brand) and I noticed that, on the packaging, it says “made with real milk,” which got me wondering why is it that, lately, a lot of food products seem to have something similar on their labels…

Why do food manufacturers feel the need to stress that they’re using “real” ingredients? Does this mean that, in the past, they used “fake” ingredients? And as for the products that don’t have this on their packaging, what in the world do they use if it’s not the real thing? Should this be a matter of concern? Has this always been around and I’m just now noticing it, or is it just a marketing gimmick as it seems to be the case with a lot of other food descriptors these days?

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18 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

Some “cheese products” are not real cheese, and are hence not made with milk or any other dairy products. Some products that are called American Cheese for example cannot be legally called cheese on the label and must be labeled as cheese food. Some brands of American Cheese are made with oils, gelatin and/or other chemical emulsifiers instead of milk.

There are also vegan brands of “cheese” that are made without any milk or dairy products. As an example of one of those vegan cheeses, you can see the Ingredients List in Teese brand vegan cheese.

You can read all about cheese, processed cheese and cheese food Here

So the labels you have been reading are emphasizing to the consumer that their product is indeed real cheese (which by law in the U.S.) must be made with milk.

Anybody up for a grilled cheese sammich?

Symbeline's avatar

Maybe a lot of the time they use some alternate ingredient which emulates the real thing. I’m not entirely sure, although I wouldn’t be so surprised…like if you buy apple juice from the store, and compare it with actual, homemade apple juice, there is a difference in the taste. Not necessarily because there isn’t any actual apple in the store juice, but because of all the stuff they add, or how the apples are processed for the juice…still, I often wonder the same thing when I buy juice and it feels the need to tell me that it’s made of real fruit juices.
If I ever buy steak and it says ’‘made with real cow’’ Imma be like, what the hell, mate?

blueiiznh's avatar

“real nasty”

jordym84's avatar

@Kardamom Thank you for that information!! I’d forgotten about the whole American “cheese” thing (I had a food science course in college and we talked about how American “cheese” is just a byproduct of the scraps of other cheeses). I’d never been a fan of it anyway after trying it once and not liking the taste, but once I found out about how it’s made, it really put me off of it once and for all.

@Symbeline Ah yes, fruit juice is another example…it always makes me wonder what I’m drinking if it’s not “real fruit juice.” For years now I’ve only been drinking water with my meals, save for once in a blue moon when I’ll pour myself a glass of juice. I’ve grown so skeptical of the food industry that I’m constantly wondering what’s real and what isn’t… A few weeks back I bought pork tenderloins from Walmart and when I cooked it, it had the consistency of a mix between rubber and styrofoam – and I know for a fact that it wasn’t my cooking because I’ve been cooking for years and am somewhat of an expert in the kitchen (had several cooking courses in college as part of my major in hospitality management). And I’m also skeptical of fruits and veggies and their atcual nutritional values; everything just looks, feels, and tastes so plastic…

Kardamom's avatar

@Symbeline with “juice drinks” you can be getting just about anything except real juice. In the U.S. only products that are labeled 100% juice are actually 100% juice. Other “juice drinks” or “juice cocktails” usually have sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, which a lot of times, especially with red colored drinks, comes from ground up red beetles. Since red beetles is not considered a vegetarian item, I’m always on the lookout for words like carmine, chochineal or the dreaded mystery other natural ingredients which could be anything from bugs to gelatin to other un-named animal products, oil or glycerin.

A fine example of a “juice drink” which isn’t juice at all is Kool Aid Orange soda, like Crush or Fanta are others.

Watch out for the word “cocktail” too, because you will know for certain that you are not getting 100% juice. Here’s the ingredients for Ocean Spray Cranberry Cocktail. Cocktail fruit drinks either have sugar or high fructose corn syrup added to them, and often they will also have preservatives and dyes.

Although products labeled as 100% juice are indeed that, there are often more than one kind of juice in a product. That is because some fruits like cranberries, cherries and raspberries are simply too tart to be able to drink by themselves, so ususally pear juice or white grape juice might be added to temper the tartness.

Here’s another label that you might see that can confuse people if they don’t read the actual ingredients list on the side of the bottle. 100% Vitamin C. That means it delivers your 100% daily intake of vitamin C, but it does not mean that the product is also 100% juice. So read the ingredients labels folks : )

Anyone up for a cocktail to go along with that grilled cheese sammy?

YARNLADY's avatar

As mentioned above, many cheese products are made without any dairy products. I’ve read that we will soon have meat products that are not made from animals, but rather grown in vats in a factory.

Kardamom's avatar

^^ Once again, must clean my glasses, I read that last bit as “rats in a factory” and I thought WTF? LOL

jordym84's avatar

@Kardamom You’re not the only one…I, too, read “rats in a factory” LOL

Cupcake's avatar

My understanding was that cheese labeled “real milk” was made with raw, unpasturized milk. See this article.

Does the packaging say anything about pasturization or aging?

jordym84's avatar

@Cupcake I just checked the package and on the ingredients list it says “pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt enzymes, and annatto (food coloring)”

deni's avatar

HAHAH YEAH McDonalds commercial I saw earlier, OUR SALADS ARE MADE WITH REAL VEGETABLES!!!!!!! OH????????? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? So enticing REAL vegetables I’m so used to eating fake plastic vegetables which I try to maintain a healthy amount of in my diet!

Symbeline's avatar

@Kardamom Eeeew there’s beetles in my juice? I’m not all that health oriented, but I do like to at least eat and drink stuff that’s healthy. Do you know of any juice brands (big juice fan here, both fruit and vegetable juice) that have a good amount of natural ingredients? Oasis is my favorite brand, as well as Minute Maid. I’m pretty those sure are decent, but really I’m not entirely sure how to tell. Other than it says 100% orange juice for example, or when it says no sugars/preservatives added. And yeah, I always check the vitamin C, this juice I’m having now has 140% of it. And V8 seems to have all sorts of good stuff in it, although mind you I have no idea what magnesium is. Lol.

And yeah, Kool Aid, ew.

jordym84's avatar

@Symbeline talk about Beetlejuice! ~

ucme's avatar

I read on a packet of condoms recently, Made from genuine gypsy tears, or was it puppies foreskins?

Kardamom's avatar

Most of the major brands of juice that you find in the grocery store have mulitple products. Ocean Spray for example, Kirkland, Welches and Minutemaid each have juices that are 100% juice, and other similar looking products (say cranberry for instance) that are actually “juice drinks” or “cocktails” with all of the bad stuff in them. The good ones will almost always say in big letters on the front 100% juice, but you should always check the actual ingredients label on the back.

You always need to read the ingredients list and look for juice and water only (I think they can add ascorbic acid which is vitamin C) to be sure that it is 100% juice.

The majority of juice bottles and cartons on the shelves are not 100% juice and their ingredients labels will mention sugar, fake sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup and/or preservatives and dyes. I never buy those products. But when they’re sitting on the shelf, they don’t look any different from the good stuff, that’s why you gotta read dem labels.

Here’s a few examples of what to watch for. This is the label for Minute Maid Cran/Raspberry “Juice Drink”. It’s got some bad stuff in there.

On the other hand This is one of Minute Maid’s 100% juices. I couldn’t find a photo of the actual ingredients label, but it will just list water, juice (possibly juice from concentrate which is fine) and possibly ascorbic acid.

Another thing that throws people off is when it says on the label No High Fructose Corn Syrup. That is true, but they ususually substitute that with plain old sugar or fake chemical sweetners. Also not good : (

poisonedantidote's avatar

The one that always worried me was the pizza place in Harlow essex.

- Chicken pizza… $3.50
– Chicken pizza (real chicken) ... $6.00

incendiary_dan's avatar

Chinese sources of honey were recently found to be nothing but a sweet chemical slurry that only vaguely resembled honey. There are some health concerns involved with said chemicals.

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