Tag Archives: cheese sauce mix

We Get Letters v.3: Kraft Foods and Due Diligence

Okay, not so much a letter as much as a comment in a previous post. But hey, same idea, right?

Cathleen takes a little umbrage at my post “One reason (of many) why I dislike Kraft Food” . She writes:

In all fairness, which was missing from your article on “One Reason (Of Many) Why I Dislike Kraft” you show a picture of an orange powder substance that you claim Kraft calls ‘cheese’ and it is supported in a note from Kate who calls it a ‘fluorescent orange powder’.

However, one thing you are falling short of is due diligence. Kraft does not call it cheese, it is quite clearly noted on the label (I actually went and got a box from my neighbor) that it’s called ‘CHEESE SAUCE MIX’.

Now, Kraft is not one of my favorite manufactures of food products, however, there is no excuse for ‘fluorescent yellow journalism’ either.

Cathleen, Cathleen, Cathleen. Have you not learned by now that I would take any opportunity to take a few immature swipes at the mega-monolithic corporation that is Kraft foods?

I was offended at the idea that I am a journalist. After all, journalists have a code of ethics and standards to which they should strive to adhere to. They also get an expense account and freebies from various food companies, but who am I to quibble about that?

Me? I’m no food journalist. I’m a food writer, and a little known one at that. My own ethic is that something has to taste good, and that a food item is what it claims itself to be. For example: If a restaurant claims itself to be the best, I feel I have the right to hold them to that claim (Are you listening ‘Seattle’s best Pizza’?).

But you do bring up some interesting points which I feel do need to be addressed. So in the interest of due diligence, let’s touch upon some of the items you bring up.

Kraft does not call it cheese, it is quite clearly noted on the label (I actually went and got a box from my neighbour) that it’s called ‘CHEESE SAUCE MIX’

I actually went out and purchased a box of the stuff.

I noted that the name of the product was called “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese” rather than “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Sauce Mix”. In fact, at first glance, I could not find any instance of where it was called Cheese Sauce Mix. I did nntice that not only did they call it “cheese”, they called it the “Cheesiest”. Unless they were using the definition of “Cheesy” which states itself to be shabby or cheap, then they are making the claim the they are the pinnacle of what cheese products should be.

That, my friend, is a scary, scary thought.

Upon further investigation of the box, I was able to find where it mentioned “Cheese Sauce Mix”. It was on the side of the box (pictured below.

What? You can’t see it there? Neither could I until I took a closer look.

Of course! There it is! How could I have missed that?

To be honest, the box does mention the phrase “cheese sauce mix” on two more occasions, noticeably with a similar font size and no where on the front of the box. I think it’s fairly safe to say that when push comes to shove, Kraft knows it’s not cheese, but they don’t really want consumers to think of their product as cheese sauce mix. Rather, they slyly make it so that the word cheese is associated with their product even when it’s clearly not cheese.

I called Beecher’s Cheeseshop at Pike Place Market, and talked with assistant cheesemaker Amir Rosenblatt. I asked him straight out “What ingredients go into making a simple cheese?” His reply? Milk, cultures, rennet (enzymes) and salt.

Let’s take a quick look at the ingredient list for Kraft’s Cheese Sauce Mix:

whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, calcium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate, contains less than 2% of citric acid, sodium phosphate, lactic acid, milk, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, cheese cultures

Does this ingredient list constitute cheese? By the letter of the law, yes. But when you end up with a plateful of fluroscent orange powder, you’re really stretching the truth to the breaking point. It’s disingenuous and Kraft probably knows this. Hence my initial post.