Bad news for cheese lovers: Pfizer’s fake rennet sneaks into cheese without approval

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fake-rennet(NaturalHealth365)  Indulging in cheese is one of life’s simple pleasures, provided you don’t grapple with lactose intolerance.  Its delectable taste, rich in healthy fats and protein, spans diverse varieties and flavors.

Traditional cheese making has existed for thousands of years and uses dairy and rennet – a series of enzymes from the stomachs of ruminant animals like sheep – to create the end product we all love.  Recently, however, several types of synthetic rennet have become extremely common in cheese making, to the point that most commercial cheese, at least in the U.S., is made with these non-animal rennets.  Aside from the fact that these non-animal rennets are not as well tested as one might like, American food packaging standards do not require cheese makers to warn consumers about the presence of these chemicals.

Let’s look at synthetic rennet, how it’s made, how likely it is to be found in every type of cheese you eat, and, further, what you can do about it.

Synthetic rennet takes over cheese making, but consumers left in the dark

For millennia, the enzymes in rennet have been essential in making cheese.  They work by separating milk into proteins and fats, allowing for cheese creation and extending the milk’s lifespan.  This means we can enjoy nutritious cheese months after the milk is first processed, all thanks to animal rennet.

However, due to pressures from animal rights groups and other factors, synthetic rennet has become far more common, particularly in the last twenty years.  While cheese made from these different processes might be indistinguishable at first glance, it is remarkably different from cheese made with animal rennet.

Unfortunately, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards do not require cheese makers to warn consumers on the packaging that their food contains synthetic rennet.

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The problem with synthetic rennet

Synthetic rennet comes in several different forms, but the most common is a genetically modified organism or GMO.  Pfizer was the first company to extract cellular material from animals that create chymosin – the chemical in rennet that helps produce cheese – and introduce it to bacteria.  The bacteria are then cultured, introduced to the milk of choice, and then the product is fermented into cheese.

Not only is this another way that GMOs are being snuck into our food, but this process is adding bacteria to our food supply that we might not otherwise encounter.  Additionally, this new cheese-making method is virtually untested in terms of human response.  Cheese had been made the same way until the 1980s, and bioengineered cheese using these GMO bacteria became prolific in the 1990s.  While this new cheese has become ubiquitous in American supermarkets, there is no research on how it affects the American people.

Protecting your family at the grocery store

There are a few options if you still want to eat cheese but want to avoid GMOs.  One way is to buy cheese from a local dairy supplier that only uses natural animal rennet and organically sourced ingredients.

Imported cheese from other countries is far less likely to have GMO synthetic rennet, but it is still possible, so paying attention to labels is still your best bet.

If you cannot find a local or imported cheese, look online for retailers that specialize in organic cheeses and will ship to your home.

Like with any modern food product, there is always a concern that GMOs are present, but with skillful food label reading and investing in slightly more expensive choices, you can protect your family from genetically modified food, even your favorite cheese.

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