In the wake of widely covered news reports of adulteration and fraud in some Italian cheeses, Fairfield, N.J.-based Schuman Cheese has revealed plans to introduce the U.S. industry’s first trust mark for cheese. The on-package seal aims to verify product quality and manufacturing integrity.
The True Cheese trust mark will appear on Schuman cheeses and snacks sold in supermarket and mass retail channels. According to the company, products bearing the trust mark are already in some stores and will continue to be phased in as customer orders are filled.
The first quality seal of its kind in the cheese industry, Schuman Cheese’s True Cheese trust mark follows similar initiatives for olive oil, honey and fresh fish. The label means that the verified product is made only with milk, cultures, salt and enzymes; is aged as required; and that any use of an anti-caking ingredient is at or below industry-accepted levels and properly labeled.
Schuman Cheese also said that it had reached a product-testing agreement with Covance Food Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (LabCorp), to independently test True Cheese-labeled products. Under the agreement, Covance will carry out periodic testing of randomly selected products taken from retail locations, at its laboratory in Madison, Wis.
“We guarantee that all of our products are properly labeled and produced in accordance with the strictest regulations,” noted Neal Schuman, third-generation CEO of his family-owned company. “Our partnership with Covance provides us with an objective, third-party verification of that promise. Our goal is to assure consumers that they’re getting real Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses when they buy cheeses with the True Cheese trust mark.”
According to the company, apart from the seal and related testing of items bearing the trust mark, there's no practical way for consumers to determine for themselves exactly how a cheese is made or whether excessive fillers might be included in the package.
Of the approximately 463 million pounds of domestically produced Italian hard-cheese varieties sold in the United States annually, more than 90 million pounds (mostly in grated and dehydrated forms sold in canisters) are adulterated, according to Schuman Cheese and industry reports.