Have you ever found yourself peeling back the plastic wrap of a Kraft Single, about to slap that smooth, orange square onto your kid’s sandwich or burger? These handy little things have been a staple cupboards across America for as long as most of us can remember. But here’s a bit of a reality check: despite what we’ve always thought, Kraft Singles aren’t actually ‘real cheese.’ Sounds a bit bonkers, right? Let’s get into it.
To begin with, we need to grasp the concept of what ‘real cheese’ truly entails. Initially, you might assume it’s simply curdled milk, but I understand your skepticism. That’s part of it, but to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s a bit more specific. According to the FDA, a product must contain at least 50% cheese to earn the title ‘cheese’. You’re probably thinking Kraft Singles easily makes that cut. I mean, they taste cheesy, they melt like cheese. But, believe it or not, Kraft Singles contain less than 51% real cheese.
What does that mean? Well, in the eyes of the FDA, Kraft Singles aren’t ‘cheese.’ They’re actually ‘pasteurized prepared cheese product,’ – a term that, let’s be honest, isn’t going to get your kids running to the table. That’s why we often just call them ‘singles.’ But, this small shift in language can be misleading, making us think we’re giving our kids cheese when that’s not quite the case.
Next, let’s dive into what makes up these mystery squares. If you take a look at the ingredients list on a pack of Kraft Singles, it’s a bit longer than what you’d see on a block of good old cheddar. Sure, they’ve got cheese in them, but it’s less than half of what’s in there. The rest?The product contains a combination of whey, milk protein concentrate, milkfat, and several other additives used to extend its shelf life, enhance its flavor, and maintain its shape.
Now, onto the big question: is this stuff good for our kids? First, let’s talk about the fact that Kraft Singles aren’t made from organic dairy. That means the cows that produce the milk used in these singles are often fed non-organic, possibly genetically modified feed. This can involve spraying grains with glyphosate, an herbicide that has been linked to gut health issues and potential risks of cancer.
In addition, processed food additives are present in Kraft Singles, which, although approved for use in food, may not be the best for our kids in the long run. And let’s not forget the pasteurization process. It’s great for killing off harmful bacteria, but it also wipes out the good bacteria that help us digest lactose.
Kraft Singles have managed to stick around thanks to some clever marketing and their easy availability. The advertisers bill them as kid-friendly, tasty, and convenient – making them perfect for sandwiches and quick meals. And let’s face it, seeing them in the dairy section, alongside blocks of cheddar and bags of mozzarella, makes us think they’re just another type of cheese.
But, as we’re becoming more aware of what’s in the food we give our kids, it’s essential we know what we’re actually dealing with. Kraft Singles aren’t traditional cheese – they’re a processed food product.
So, what’s the takeaway from our deep dive into Kraft Singles? They might look, taste, and melt like cheese, but they don’t fit the FDA’s bill. They’re not the villain of the story, but we need to remember that they’re a processed food product, not a natural cheese.
- “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 1 Apr. 2023,www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=133.113.
- “Kraft Singles – American Cheese Slices.” EWG’s Food Scores, Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org/foodscores/products/021000633609-KraftSinglesAmericanCheeseSlices/.
- Vicini, John L et al. “Glyphosate in livestock: feed residues and animal health1.” Journal of animal science vol. 97,11 (2019): 4509-4518. doi:10.1093/jas/skz295
- De Siena, Martina et al. “Food Emulsifiers and Metabolic Syndrome: The Role of the Gut Microbiota.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 11,15 2205. 25 Jul. 2022, doi:10.3390/foods11152205
- “Milk: It Does a Body Good?” The Weston A. Price Foundation, www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/making-it-practical/milk-it-does-a-body-good/#gsc.tab=0.
- “Kraft Singles Are Getting a Makeover.” CNN Business, Cable News Network, 23 May 2023, www.cnn.com/2023/05/23/business/kraft-singles-cheese-makeover/index.html.