Multiple Cheese Companies Plead Guilty To Parmesan Fraud

If you're like most of us, you were devastated to learn that packaged parmesan cheese — beloved and generously sprinkled by many — is probably at least eight to 10 percent wood pulp and other fillers.Although many grocers have denied cheese fraud, three companies named in the original lawsuit have now come forward and pleaded guilty to "misbranded and adulterated cheese products."

Castle Cheese Company admitted to "aiding and abetting to introduce misbranded and adulterated cheese products to interstate commerce." While, Universal Cheese & Drying, Inc. and International Packing LLC also pled guilty to "conspiring to introduce misbranded cheese and money laundering." Each corporation faces a hefty $500,000 fine, and Castle Cheese Company executive Michelle Myrter, also faces jail time.

"The Department of Justice prosecutes people and companies who introduce adulterated or misbranded food into interstate commerce," said U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton. "In this case, the fraud was perpetrated on consumers who purchased parmesan and Romano cheeses that were inferior to what they believed they were buying."

According to a 2013 FDA report and a study by Bloomberg News, most cheeses labeled as "1—percent real parmesan and Romano cheese" did not actually meet the FDA standards for unadulterated parmesan cheese.