The Truth About Plastic Cheese

The Truth About Plastic Cheese

Is “plastic cheese” an urban legend or does it really exist?

Yes, it does and the following are some examples of the characteristics people attribute to plastic cheese:

  • It’s processed cheese that contains plastic, which is why it’s called “plastic cheese”.
  • Cheese that tastes like plastic.
  • The plastic wrapper has more of a cheese taste than the cheese.
  • They are not really made of plastic but they are about as nutritious as plastic, hence the name.
  • It is cheese that feels more like plastic than cheese.
  • Plastic cheese lasts forever because it is plastic.


Plastic Cheese Doesn’t Burn or Melt

Various individuals have conducted experiments on plastic cheese due rumors circulating through the public that if one exposed “plastic cheese” to a flame, it would not burn or melt. Scary stuff. The following are examples of people conducting these evaluations:

The Truth About Plastic Cheese

The term “plastic cheese” refers to processed cheese (also prepared cheese or cheese food depending on the content of cheese.) It is made with regular cheese but with the addition of one or more of the following: whey, emulsifiers, milk, salt, preservatives, and food coloring. The most popular processed cheese in the United States is American Cheese. There is no single definition but it is associated with a smooth, mild flavored cheese. Contrary to the “it won’t burn or melt” folklore about plastic cheese, one of the major advantages of processsed cheese is the melt. The use of emulsifiers lets processed cheese melt smoothly and uniformly when heated. That is why processed cheeses are a top choice for cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and nachos.

Kraft produced this video in response to the “it won’t burn” clips popping up on the internet.

And if you would like a more scientific explanation, try this one:

History of Processed Cheese

The first processed cheese was developed by Walter Gerber and Fritz Stettler in Switzerland in 1911. Emmentaler cheese was shredded and heated with sodium citrate to produce a homogeneous product that firmed on cooling. Initial intent  was to improve shelf-life for cheese shipped to warmer climates. In the United States, James Lewis Kraft was working on blending and heating of natural cheeses. He was issued his first patent in 1916 for a melting of Cheddar cheese pieces and stirring it while heating to form a homogeneous war cheese packaged in glass jars or cans. This ultimately led to the development of Kraft Singles, a product introduced in 1947 which was an instant hit, becoming an American classic.

Plastic Cheese Today

Best known processed cheeses in the United States are marketed as American Cheese by Kraft, Borden, and other companies. It is orange, yellow, or off-white and is mild and melts easily. It is usually made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and cheddar. Provel processed cheese combines cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses for use on pizza. Mozzarella like processed cheeses are also used on pizzas.  

Processed cheese is typically sold in individually wrapped slices in the United Kingdom. Often referred to as “singles”, or in foil wrapped portions, DairyLea and The Laughing Cow are leading brands.


I am a fiction writer, but research topics and provide posts like the one above for enlightenment and entertainment. If you liked it, please take a look at some of my other posts and my home page, R. A. Andrade. This post was prompted by the following passage from my upcoming novel, Three Remain:

Moving to the kitchen and opening the refrigerator, he laughed. Staring back at him from a lightless cave was a heavily bruised apple, wrapped slices of plastic cheese with a shelf life of twenty years or more sporting green patches of mold, and a carton of milk with an expiration date twelve days earlier. Quite a transformation from the cornucopia of supplies typical only a few months ago. Ignoring the gourmet delights, his eyes finally set on a single bottle of Corona.

9 Replies to “The Truth About Plastic Cheese”

  1. Regardless it’s not real cheese. Theres no reason to use chemicals to bind ingredients. I’m sure its FDA approved just like the baby powder that’s killing thousands of women. Keep ya $hit products away from me and my family. FDA makes us sick to cure us with garbage that costs thousands. And ya can keep ya damn 5 g cause I heard what u plan on doing with that.

  2. I live in London UK and today discovered that a cheese I have been eating for years is made out of plastic as it does not melt with heat. I have found that this cheese(which is smoked) is what exacerbates my prostate and blocking my urinary tract causing discomfort, pain and twice being taken to A&E by ambulance. Can I sue the supermarket selling this product?

    1. Chris–Not understanding the exact brand and product you have been eating, it would be difficult to comment on its content. My research on the topic of “plastic cheese” did not uncover any actual plastic in processed cheese products. But if you have evidence that what you have been using contains plastic, I am not an authority for the legal rights in the UK. It would seem that the supermarket selling a product would not be directly libel, but rather the manufacturer of the product. My advice would be to get hard evidence about the plastic in the product, then pursue with the manufacturer. Thanks for taking the time to post your comment on the subject.–Ron

    1. Most cheese, including processed cheese (plastic cheese) either contain no or very little vitamin E (2% of daily requirements in some cheddar.) Many processed cheeses contain sodium acetate as does some other dairy products. Check the label on any brand. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *