It’s perfect on a cracker. Almost too perfect. Explore the secrets of one of the world’s most unnatural foods.

Whey: The cheese-making process removes 80 to 90 percent of milk’s moisture, some of which is in the form of liquidy whey proteins. This byproduct is usually thrown out, but Kraft plows it back into Easy Cheese to increase volume (filler!) – and passes the savings along to you.

Sodium citrate: The sodium in this compound exchanges ions with the calcium in the milk and “softens” the water-soluble portion of the cheese, enabling it to mix thoroughly with the fat-soluble component. That’s called emulsification. The citric acid-derived citrate boosts the sour “bite” of cheddar.

Sodium phosphate: Degreaser, preservative, urine acidifier, enema ingredient – is there anything Na3PO4 can’t do? Here, it’s another emulsifying agent. Proponents of natural cheese cited this additive when lobbying to have Kraft’s products regulated as “embalmed cheese.” The Feds settled on the less-mortifying “process cheese.”

Calcium phosphate: Sodium phosphate tends to make calcium unavailable to the body. So it’s possible that calcium phosphate has to be added to make Easy Cheese healthier. It also makes it legal for Kraft to label every can “an excellent source of calcium.”

Sodium alginate: Every good processed food has seaweed extract, and Easy Cheese is no exception. Alginate, a gum found in the cell walls of brown algae, is flavorless but increases viscosity.

Apocarotenal: This yellow-orange pigment, found in spinach and citrus fruits, enhances the color of processed cheese.

Patrick Di Justo
Wired Magazine Issue 14:10

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