Nutrition and Labeling - Is cheese considered processed food?

03-28-2008, 12:29 PM
Hi all. My hubby and I are trying to avoid any processed food and I was wondering if cheese is considered processed food? I'm not talking about things like Velveeta and Cheez Whiz, I'm talking like slices of cheddar or swiss, or those cheese sticks you can get to snack on.

03-28-2008, 12:35 PM
Well making cheese is definitely a "process", but I personally don't consider real cheese a "processed" food like velveeta or Cheeze Whiz. I do consider american cheese to be processed.

03-28-2008, 12:55 PM
I consider hard cheese not to be processed. Plus it tastes so much if you shredd your own. I was amazed at the differnce in taste. Cheese is a major weakness for me.

03-28-2008, 12:57 PM
Agreed . . . most blocks of cheese are a 'real' food . . . but the slices and the sticks are 'processed' (as a matter of fact, I think it says so right on the packaging).

03-28-2008, 01:14 PM
Cheese is processed to some extent. What specifically are you trying to avoid about processed foods. For me the amount of sodium in processed foods is a killer. You will notice that light cheeses may have less fat but often have more sodium. I have started to buy the full fat versions and just eating them in moderation for this reason.


03-28-2008, 01:24 PM
That was my feeling, that cheese wasn't really considered processed, but I wanted to know what you guys thought. Debimitch: cheese is a total weakness for me, too...I've been able to control my usage of it, though. I don't buy chunks of it to eat by themselves (if I did, I'd eat the whole block within 2 days!), I just have it in meals sometimes.

Lori: I don't know what I am trying to avoid in processed foods, I've just heard a lot on here that they are unhealthy, so I figured I'd try to avoid them. I haven't noticed that the lowfat have more sodium, now that you say that I will pay attention to it...sodium is certainly something we try to limit because my hubby has high blood pressure.

03-28-2008, 02:59 PM
When it comes to avoiding processed foods, where you draw the line is going to be somewhat arbitrary. There is no definitive cut off point before which the level of processing is healthy and beyond which suddenly becomes unhealthy. There will be people who will tell you that all cheeses are an artificial, processed food. Others will call most cheeses a whole food, because it is "minimally processed," or processed without artificial additives.

Hat Trick
03-28-2008, 03:56 PM
'Cheeses' (and I use the term loosely :)) like velveeta, spray-on cheese in a can and that awful canned parm. cheese are definintely processed. I read something about the parm cheese (the kind you shake on out of a can) being so far removed from actual paramasean cheese that I started buying the freshly grated cheese from the store. WOW, what a difference in taste, texture and overall quality. But as for deli sliced cheese -- I never considered them processed. Is say Clearfield or Boarshead american cheese a processed thing? I guess maybe, depending upon your definition of processed? Hmmm, never thought this much about cheese b/4. Brie anyone? :D

03-28-2008, 04:14 PM
Here's my thought on processed foods:

Is it a modern processed food or is it something that although technically "processed" it has been around for centuries? I figure if it was something that my great grandmother ate (or someone's great grandmother) then it's more then likely wholesome enough to eat. In other words, is it real food or fake food (cheddar=real, cheese wiz=fake.)

Hundreds of years ago foods were minimally "processed" to extend shelf life or make ingredients more edible. Things like yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kim chee, pickles, jams, bread etc. are processed somewhat, but you can still tell what the main ingredient is. I feel things like this are okay as long as they are free of preservatives (homemade being the best option.) But most people don't have the time or the knowledge to make cheese at home, so I say eat cheese (just not the cheese food product stuff.)

03-28-2008, 05:50 PM
I'm with what zenor said above.

Technically any food is "processed" - even slicing an apple is putting it through a "process". When I talk about "processed" food, however, I'm talk about food that has been chemically treated or has had additives included or things removed. Anything "lite" has been processed! :)

Cheese - not processed, in my book. Cheese making is a natural process ... cook milk, ferment it, strain off the whey, break up the curds, press it, age it. You can add various flavorings (molds, wines, etc.) and you can age it and you can brush it with wax or vinegar and all kinds of things ... but it's a very basic process that's been around for centuries.


03-28-2008, 06:30 PM
By my definition, it wouldn't be processed if they sliced it up for you in the deli, but if it comes wrapped in cellophane, yes. That stuff is orange plastic.

03-29-2008, 10:04 AM
I don't eat alot of processed food but to try and avoid it completely would be painful. The problem with processed food is certain added ingredients that either adds flavor (sodium) increases the shelf life, is cheaper (HFCS) or might give it a certain texture.

It helps if you determine those items that you want to monitor because you can find processed foods that don't contain them - you have to read labes.. This will allow you to at least make better decisions.

For me the two main ingredients that I track is HFCS and sodium.


03-29-2008, 04:15 PM
I'm glad to have you all's opinion on this. I love cheese and definitely don't want to give it up; I limit it because of calories and fat, but I do use it in some things and I have it as a snack sometimes.

The foods I think of as processed are things like those rice/spice mixes, mac and cheese and such. I do try to eat as "whole" as I can, but I am sure that I eat some processed foods. We do buy yogurt and pasta sauce in a jar most of the time and "healthy" boxed cereals. I try to watch the cals and fiber and sodium for us.

Lori, what is HFCS?

03-30-2008, 01:11 AM
HCFS is High Fructose Corn Syrup - it is a substitution for sugar and can be quite controversal. It is in just about everthing.

Since Corn is subsidized it is cheaper for food manufactures to use HFCS instead of sugar.

Some people try to avoid it completely. I personally find that a bit too restrictive and just make sure that it is not in the top 5 ingredients. The number one place you find it is in prepared sauces or dressings. I have switched to organic ketchup for this reason and I love a ginger teryaki sauce on my salmon and swiched to Newman's Own for this reason.

On the other hand it is a low ingredient on most breads and I don't worry about it. I will try to find a link to some of my favorite articles that explain HFCS plus I am sure you can easily do a search here or google.


03-31-2008, 05:12 PM
Ah...I've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. That's another thing I've heard it's good to stay away from. I've seen it in a lot of things. It would probably be pretty hard to avoid it all together, huh?

04-03-2008, 03:19 PM
Ah...I've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. That's another thing I've heard it's good to stay away from. I've seen it in a lot of things. It would probably be pretty hard to avoid it all together, huh?

My sister is allergic to corn. Corn is tough to avoid, but it really isnt impossible. Corn syrup is easier to avoid if you shop at places like whole foods, even sweetened processed foods there tend to use real sugar instead.

But if you are buying packaged goods HCFS is very very common even in things you wouldnt consider sweet.

04-03-2008, 05:42 PM
Ah...I've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. That's another thing I've heard it's good to stay away from. I've seen it in a lot of things. It would probably be pretty hard to avoid it all together, huh?

No, it isn't. I've been avoiding it for years by eating a whole foods, natural diet, as unprocessed as possible. :)

04-07-2008, 02:17 PM
I'll have to keep my eye on that now that you guys mentioned it. I've not been paying attention to it. What is so bad about it anyway, compared to sugar? Is it just because it is super refined?

04-07-2008, 02:41 PM
What is so bad about it anyway, compared to sugar? Is it just because it is super refined?

Oooh.. if you have the chance, watch the movie King Corn. I think it comes out on DVD later this month.

In the meanwhile, this article might help: