ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

'Fake cheese' on the menu? Wendy Knowler talks dairy product dupes

How sure are you that the Mozzarella on your pizza is the real deal?

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says economic pressures on the dairy industry have driven costs up and affected production.

This has also given rise to a compromise in quality and emergence of dairy "substitutes".

Read: Restaurants can be held liable if they don't disclose food allergens on menus

A manufacturer in KZN is producing a cheese called Capri Mozzarella, a grated blend of 50% dairy mozzarella and 50% imitation cheese.

Imitation cheese is made with vegetable fat, namely palm and coconut, Knowler explains.

eThekwini Cheese supplies it to distributors who sell it to pizza outlets. There are concerns that customers are not told about this semi-cheese and its contents.

Mozzarella makes up 60% of the cost of pizza. There's a big temptation to cut some corners on the most expensive ingredient.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

It's about disclosure. We need to know what we are ordering, what we are paying for and what we are eating. We have the right to know.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Pizza Hut, Debonairs Pizza, Buon Gusto, Domino's, Col’Cacchio and Butler's Pizza all deny using any imitation cheese.

Other dairy products

Knowler also notes that in April 2013 a 500g brick of Crystal Valley butter, Shoprite’s private label, was R23.

Five years later and 500g of Crystal Valley butter costs R50. It’s become Easy-Spread Modified Butter - which means less than half of it is butterfat.

In five years, we're paying for more than double the price for less then half the butter.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Also read: Freedom Bakery faces heat over food fraud allegations

According to Knowler, a host of butter “modified” with vegetable oil products have sprung up in the past year.

She adds that most ice-cream in supermarket fridges don't contain cream at all. Even some yoghurts are now being described as "yoghurt based dairy snacks" because of change in contents.

It is dairy, but it's a concoction of water, milk powder and vegetable fat. They might create some creaminess, but it's not coming from cream.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Manufacturers have to disclose the ingredients and label products in accordance to SA food legislation, she argues.

As long as it's declared on the label, it's fine.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Messing with Mozerralla is happening in quite a few markets.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

Knowler explores the rise of imitation cheese and discusses the legalities.

Visit our Consumer Talk feature for more consumer-related stories.

Take a listen to the discussion during Consumer Talk:

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Consumer Talk: Who is responsible if you injure yourself while shopping?

Consumer Talk: Who is responsible if you injure yourself while shopping?

Consumer guru Wendy Knowler answers customer’s question about who is responsible if you injure yourself while shopping.

'Nothing is random at supermarkets'

'Nothing is random at supermarkets'

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler explains how supermarkets place everything on shelves to make you buy more.

Restaurants can be held liable if they don't disclose food allergens on menus

Allergy rates are on the rise throughout the world, and restaurants must do better to properly prepare allergen-free meals.

'New' antiseptic TCP not the same as the original you grew up with

'New' antiseptic TCP not the same as the original you grew up with

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says TCP we grew up with as a remedy for infections and cuts, isn't the same as TCP now on sale.

Freedom Bakery faces heat over food fraud allegations

It's alleged the Cape Town-based bakery is passing of its products as ‘sugar-free’ and ‘gluten-free’ - when in fact they are not.

You're probably reading expiry dates wrong (and wasting food in the process)

Best-before dates do not mean that food is unsafe to eat and there's a big difference between 'best-bore' and 'sell-by' dates.

Popular articles
Research probes citizens views on Cape water crisis

Research probes citizens views on Cape water crisis

The Global Water Leaders Group will present preliminary results of a study evaluating Cape Town's water crisis.

Canada has legalised marijuana, could South Africa follow suit?

Canada has legalised marijuana, could South Africa follow suit?

Independent Journalist Kevin Bloom says its part of a global movement towards the recognition of the plant's properties.

SIU report: Corrupt and fraudulent dealings worth R1.2 billion in Gauteng health

SIU report: Corrupt and fraudulent dealings worth R1.2 billion in Gauteng health

The report reveals that former Gauteng Health MEC Brian Hlongwa and 11 others are involved in the irregular expenditure.

Cape dam levels on the rise, but not all clear yet

Cape dam levels on the rise, but not all clear yet

This week, the overall dam levels are at 40.9% of total storage capacity and there was an increase of 8.8 percentage points.

What was Mabuza's business with Putin? Sikonathi Mantshantsha asks

What was Mabuza's business with Putin? Sikonathi Mantshantsha asks

Sikonathi Mantshantsha echoes Parliament's sentiments in wanting to know what was discussed during David Mabuza's visit to Russia.

Medical Aid Scheme Amendment Bill to boot out medical aid co-payments

Medical Aid Scheme Amendment Bill to boot out medical aid co-payments

Acting Chief Executive and Registrar for medical schemes, Dr Sipho Kabane, explains what the Amendment Bill entails.

First-ever CT shooter gets probation thanks to ShotSpotter gunfire tech

First-ever CT shooter gets probation thanks to ShotSpotter gunfire tech

The City of Cape Town welcomes the first-ever ShotSpotter-linked conviction and sentence, handed down this month.

Damning audio of Tom Moyane instructing Sars official to fake illness emerges

Damning audio of Tom Moyane instructing Sars official to fake illness emerges

The instruction from Moyane to the official was to allegedly avoid speaking to KPMG investigators during 'rogue unit' inquiry.

Woman exposed for calling fellow aircraft passengers the K-word

Woman exposed for calling fellow aircraft passengers the K-word

Reverend Solomuzi Mabuza says he is considering laying charges against the woman for calling him a ka***r.

Celebrity chef Siba Mtongana gets vulnerable, opens up about money

Celebrity chef Siba Mtongana gets vulnerable, opens up about money

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Mtongana about her attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).