U.S. hard cheese maker Arthur Schuman Inc. this week announced the creation of a True Cheese seal, the first trust mark for quality assurance.
The mark is intended to verify the integrity and quality of cheeses ASI makes or sells, and to assist both consumers and wholesale buyers in selecting real cheese made without excessive fillers and unwanted non-cheese ingredients.
An accompanying website, truecheese.com, is designed to help consumers and industry stakeholders better understand the reasons and facts about cheese adulteration.
"Consumers and restaurant patrons deserve the real thing – not cheeses made with unwanted and excessive fillers. The public has a right to know the cheese they're buying or eating is indeed what it is represented to be," said Neal Schuman, CEO of Arthur Schuman Inc.
According to ASI, of the approximately 463 million pounds of Italian hard cheeses sold in the U.S. each year, ASI estimates that more than 90 million pounds – mostly in grated forms sold in canisters – also includes starches, fillers, and/or vegetable oil based imitation cheese.
In a national consumer survey conducted in June 2014 by ASI, 95% of consumers indicated they would be concerned if adulterated cheese is being passed off as real in the marketplace. Seventy-eight percent said companies making adulterated cheeses should not be allowed to label them as Parmesan or Romano. And 75% said they would be willing to pay anywhere from 10% to 25% more when assured it is real cheese.
"The traditions involved in making Parmesan go back for centuries. And in this country we care more than ever about what's real, true and made with integrity," Schuman said.