Processed cheese has natural fermented cheese as a base component. Some varieties, in order to lower production cost, may use a dairy substitute like milk protein concentrate (MPC). Then there are a few artificial ingredients added such as emulsifiers and food dyes. Whey, the liquid co-product that’s actually removed in traditional cheesemaking, is also added back into the mix.
U.S. food regulations make labeling distinctions for processed cheese based on the proportion of natural, substitute and artificial ingredients used. A ‘process cheese food’ for example is one that’s at least 51% natural cheese by weight plus some optional dairy components such as whey and other nondairy additives. Regardless of the label, all types of processed cheeses have the advantages of longer shelf-life and product uniformity. These features make such products convenient for the consumer but the presence of artificial ingredients introduces certain health risks.