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Cheese scam: fraud in slices

The very sound of cheese seems to be as an ebbing sunset, onto the road of decline, especially after the drastic sentence pronounced by the Court of Justice. A new fraud surfaces onto the shelves of supermarkets, the Cheese scam.

Cheese expresses a value that consumers always recognise. Proof is found on the ample recall of published values of the various contents listed on product packaging, even if it’s only the aroma. If cheese is present there is flavor, nature and value of foods ranging from pasta stuffed with other delicacies to frozen pizza, from snacks to pre-cooked meals.

In processed cheese, just a glance at the more well-known products identifies at least a couple of tendencies. Cheese that is soft and stringy – with the presence of mozzarella – otherwise savoury, thanks to the contribution of Emmental, or Parmigiano Reggiano. But which one or how much cheese is treated is the real mystery, or rather the fraud.

The fraudulent practice is quite widespread and covers both product variants. As soon as the processed cheese is presented with name and image of a characteristic ingredient (i.e. mozzarella, Emmental) – the perceived value is distinct – but its quantity is deliberately hidden. (1)

The will to conceal the effective nature and value of the food confirms recourse to strategy, constituting an authentic deception which is damaging to the consumer. The trick is to show the quantity of the characteristic ingredient with respect to the “cheese” component, instead of specifying its real quantity in the final product.



The indication of quantity of an ingredient or category of ingredients shall (a) be expressed as a percentage, which shall correspond to the quantity of the ingredient or ingredients at the time of its/their use […]

Regulation EU No. 1169/11, Annex VIII, Point 3.a)

Some cases worthy of investigation by the official control authorities and the public prosecutors :

  • Sliced cheese: ‘Fila e Fondi alla Mozzarella’; Mondelez. Amount of mozzarella with respect to the total? Unknown
  • Sliced cheese: ‘Cremose Ripiene di Philadelphia’, Philadelphia did not even cite a list of ingredients. Unknown
  • Sliced cheese: ‘Fette alla mozzarella Santa Lucia’, Galbani (Lactalis). Amount of mozzarella with respect to the total? Unknown
  • Sliced cheese: ‘Fettine di Latte Emmental’, Inalpi. Amount of Emmental with respect to the total? Unknown
  • Sottilette ‘Burger con Cheddar’, Mondelez. Cheddar is quoted as ‘82% of the cheese’. But the cheese quantity is deliberately hidden, within a redundant ingredients list which also includes an (unnatural) ‘cheese flavor’ (!),
  • ‘Slurpy Burger’, Inalpi. Even in this case, the Cheddar quantity (75%) is given in respect to the ‘cheese’ ingredient, rather than to the total.

Cheese scam must stop now!

Dario Dongo


(1) As provided by reg. UE 1169/11, Article 22 (Quantitative indication of ingredients) and Annex VIII. See also European Commission notice on the subject, at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:52017XC1121(01)&from=EN

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