Some pre-grated parmesan contains additive derived from wood pulp, investigation finds

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See Which Pre-Grated Parmesan Cheese Contains a Wood Pulp Additive Filler

When customers buy Parmesan at their local supermarket, they expect it to be 100 percent cheese.

But an Inside Edition investigation has found that is not always the case.

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Freshly grated parmesan tends to clump up and stick together so some manufacturers add cellulose, a harmless additive made from wood pulp, to keep Parmesan cheese from caking.

The FDA says as a general rule there should be no more than two percent cellulose in grated Parmesan cheese but the industry says they can have up to four percent.

Related: See how cheese is aged:

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Some pre-grated parmesan contains additive derived from wood pulp, investigation finds
Packages of cheese are displayed at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Cheesmaker Gabriel Luddy cuts a wheel of dry aged jack cheese at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Workers turn cheese curds while making cheese at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Workers turn roll cheese curds into wheels at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Packages of aged jack cheese are displayed at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
James Hinchman stands next to wheels of cheese that are aging on wooden racks in a cooler at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Wheels of jack cheese age on wooden racks in a cooler at Vella Cheese on June 10, 2014 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
An employee displays a round of French Camembert cheese in an aging cellar at the Isigny-Sainte-Mere dairy co-operative in Isigny-sur-Mer, northwestern France, on April 4, 2014. (Photo credit CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
Sandra Angelloz, a cheesemaker, set up wheels of Reblochon, a semi-soft mountain cheese, for maturing in a farm at the Aravis Col, in La Clusaz, on August 21, 2013. Farm-produced Reblochon, granted with the AOC title, are made from milk of Abondance breed cows which is collected twice a day. (Photo credit JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A dairy worker washes the rind on a wheel of hard cheese in the maturing room at the Tasmanian Heritage cheese plant, operated by Kirin Holdings Co.'s Lion unit, in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Australia's economy expanded in 2012 at the fastest pace in five years as resource investment and exports outweighed subdued manufacturing and construction. (Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Wheels of Heidi Farm Raclette cheese mature on racks in the maturing room at the Tasmanian Heritage cheese plant, operated by Kirin Holdings Co.'s Lion unit, in Burnie, Tasmania, Australia, on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013. Australia's economy expanded in 2012 at the fastest pace in five years as resource investment and exports outweighed subdued manufacturing and construction. (Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
William Bizzarri, director of the Credito Emiliano bank subsidiary that deals in Parmesan deposits, shows a Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheel, next to a poster of the temperature-controlled vault, in Montecavolo, near Reggio Emilia, Italy, Thursday Aug. 20, 2009. Row upon row of 39-kilogram (85-pound) wheels of straw-colored Parmesan cheese, stacked some 10 meters (33 feet) high at a secure warehouse, age for as many as two years under the care of bank employees trained in the centuries-old art of Parmesan making. Parmesan producers to pump cash into their business by using their product as collateral while it is otherwise sitting on a shelf for the long aging process. While the mechanism was not born out of the current economic crisis, dating rather from Italy's post-World War II years, producers say it is ever more important because it ensures that credit keeps flowing during otherwise tight times. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
Worker Luigi Venturi carries a Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese wheel, outisdethe Credito Emiliano bank temperature-controlled vault, in Montecavolo, near Reggio Emilia, Italy, Thursday Aug. 20, 2009. Row upon row of 39-kilogram (85-pound) wheels of straw-colored Parmesan cheese, stacked some 10 meters (33 feet) high at a secure warehouse, age for as many as two years under the care of bank employees trained in the centuries-old art of Parmesan making. Parmesan producers to pump cash into their business by using their product as collateral while it is otherwise sitting on a shelf for the long aging process. While the mechanism was not born out of the current economic crisis, dating rather from Italy's post-World War II years, producers say it is ever more important because it ensures that credit keeps flowing during otherwise tight times. (AP Photo/Marco Vasini)
In this March 7, 2014 photo is Dante, an aged sheep milk cheese, produced by the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative and sold at Fromagination in Madison, Wis. The World Championship Cheese Contest, which starts Tuesday in Madison, will feature more than 350 cheeses made from goat or sheep milk. (AP Photo/Taylor Anderson)
**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** Parmigiano-Reggiano With Aged Balsamic and Granny Smith apples is seen in this Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008 photo. Try dining the Italian way and consider cheese a course served before dessert. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)
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Inside Edition bought 34 samples of Parmesan cheese from major supermarkets, as well as from major restaurant chains like Pizza Hut and Domino's, and sent it to IEH Labs in Seattle, Washington where it was tested for cellulose.

Mansour Samadpour, the president of IEH labs said, "I was very surprised, I did not expect the numbers to be so high."

The results showed that 69 percent of the cheese contained more than the FDA recommends.

A sample from Pizza Hut had 4.9 percent cellulose and one at Domino's came in at 5.4 percent of the filler -- each more than double the FDA guideline. Domino's said the cellulose in its Parmesan cheese falls within the acceptable industry standard.

The label on Stop and Shop's supermarket's brand says "100% grated parmesan cheese with no fillers" - but tests showed it contained 5.8 percent cellulose. When alerted to our findings, the supermarket chain expressed concern and said it has now switched to a new supplier for its grated cheese.

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The worst by far was a packet of Colonna brand grated cheese, sold in grocery stores across the country. It had a whopping 21.6 percent cellulose.

"Something fishy is really going on here," food investigator Mitchell Weinberg told Inside Edition. "They are making that much more money by substituting this cheaper filler in place of what should be there."

Colonna Brothers, the maker of the brand with nearly 22 percent cellulose, had no comment.

So, if you want to make sure your Parmesan cheese is 100% cheese, you are going to have to grate it yourself -- or visit upscale restaurants like Patsy's Italian Restaurant or Osteria Morini in New York City, where the Parmesan cheese is freshly grated at your table.

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