Monday, May 27, 2024

Orange Cheese Is Not Natural, It’s Man Made

Cheese is has been crazy popular in Europe and North America! The French devours 57.9 pounds per person annually followed by the Germans and Italians.  Chilly Iceland gobbles 53.2 pounds!

Part of the world  is lactose intolerant; once children stop breastfeeding, their bodies reduce production of the lactase necessary for digesting milk. But because of varying protein sources in different regions of the world, indigenous peoples learned to adapt. While 95% of Caucasians are lactase retentive and continue to properly digest dairy, the figure drops to 50% for people of African descent and only about 5% of east Asians. This is why you almost never find milk, cheese, or dairy products in Asian food, and why cheese consumption by country varies widely.

For the cheese loving world though, there is shocking news – there is no natural orange cheese.  Yes, it is a man-made invention.

Photo by Shiela Pedraza Burk via Burst

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When cheese was first invented, either in the 16th or 17th century, English farmers realized that the product had a much lighter color than butter. This is due to the fact that cheese is made from low fat milk, and butter is made up of fat. This loss of color made customers believe that cheese was a product of low quality. As a way of salvaging their product, farmers decided to add colorant to make it sell more and look more vibrant and appealing. It was a success.

While this backstory is very interesting, another theory claims coloring in cheese was first used to even out the look of the product throughout the year. As it turns out, cheese has different colors depending on the season because it’s affected by the diet of cows. In spring and summer, cow’s milk is more buttery because they’re feeding on fresher grass.


In the United States, some cheese’s color comes from the flavorless Annatto seed. It gives Wisconsin cheddar that pumpkin orange hue.  Annatto is a tasteless product, which allows the flavor of cheese to be natural. Cheddar cheese has more while lighter colored cheeses, such as Gouda and Edam, have only a little of it.

In their natural state, all cheeses are just different shades of white, which would be a marketing challenge.


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