Beecher's Handmade Cheese fashioned a cheese after Cougar Gold. Not big news. Why did I make a big statement? After reading their website searching for rennet information I couldn't get past the overall BS without saying something. I'll be the first to say that I get distracted easily and I couldn't help my self.
Let me regain my focus and talk about why I believe Beecher's is misleading the consumer. While they actively promote their cheese as wholesome, pure and all-natural they make cheese with rennet from genetically engineered organisms (GMO). What's up with that?
Rennet or chymosin is an enzyme that traditionally comes from the fourth stomach of slaughtered newborn calves. Other sources have traditionally come from fungi and from the Milk-Thistle plant. In 1990, the FDA approved the use of GMO for the production of chymosin (bacteria laced with a chymosin producing gene). The advantages in using chymosin include vegetarian friendly cheese and very cheap, pure source of chymosin.
Many consumers are very careful about what they eat and are willing to pay top dollar for all-natural foods. These same consumers don't like genetic engineering in any part of the food they buy. For example, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) is not something one would find desirable in an all-natural product. Because no test can show the presence of rBGH, the consumer is left with trusting the retailer. I want to trust retailers motives for selling all-natural products. When it comes to trust, the American consumer is often left wanting.
Beecher's isn't doing anything illegal. By law, cheese producers do not have to list the source of the rennet. Should Beecher's promote their cheese as all-natural, wholesome, pure food? Hell no! I'm not sure how they can look the customer in the eye, talk about all-natural foods and still sleep at night. I could never sell anything unless I can be honest about it. It is dishonest to take advantage of a loop-hole in labeling . A big loop-hole that leaves the consumer in the dark, unaware of what they are eating
I hate telling my customer these three words, "I don't know". European cheese is easy. No genetic alterations taking place there. American cheese if far more difficult. There are some cheeses that I have to say, "I don't know". It's the lamest answer on earth! I'll give Beecher's credit for being upfront when asked about the rennet used. They also have some great ideal about wholesome, all-natural foods. I hope thoses ideals can one day be based on real actions.