If you’re a fan of Italian food, then you’ve likely heard of Parmesan cheese. This hard, granular cheese is often used as a topping for pasta dishes or as an ingredient in sauces.

However, there have been rumors circulating that Parmesan cheese contains sawdust. So, the question arises – does Parmesan cheese have sawdust in it?

The Short Answer

No, authentic Parmesan cheese does not contain sawdust.

What is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a type of hard cheese that originated in Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and is known for its nutty and savory flavor. Authentic Parmesan cheese must be produced in certain regions of Italy using specific methods to earn the official designation.

The Sawdust Controversy

The rumor that Parmesan cheese contains sawdust likely stems from an incident that occurred in 2016. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that some companies were adding cellulose – a type of plant fiber – to their grated Parmesan to prevent clumping.

While cellulose is safe for human consumption and commonly used as a food additive, some companies were found to be adding excessive amounts to their products – up to 10% – which led to concerns about the quality of the product.

Cellulose can be derived from various sources such as wood pulp, cotton, or corn husks; however, using sawdust would not be permitted.

How to Identify Authentic Parmesan Cheese

To ensure that you’re getting authentic Parmesan cheese and not an imposter product with added fillers or substitutes like sawdust or other types of cellulose fiber:

  • Look for the official PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) label on the packaging.
  • Check the ingredients list for any additives or fillers. Authentic Parmesan cheese should only contain three ingredients: milk, rennet, and salt.
  • Buy from a reputable source, such as a specialty cheese shop or Italian deli.

The Bottom Line

While the use of excessive cellulose in grated Parmesan cheese was a concern in the past, it’s important to note that authentic Parmesan cheese does not contain sawdust. By purchasing from reputable sources and checking ingredient lists, you can ensure that you’re getting high-quality Parmesan cheese without any unwanted additives.