Due to business related factors such as difficulty in outsourcing ingredients, high cost of ingredients, nature of customers etc. and so on and so forth, some pizza joints opt for imitation cheese or certain types of cheeses that aren’t a representation of the real thing.
In this article, we are going to discuss the type of cheeses used by pizza chains, and if imitation or “fake”, exactly what they’re made from.
Why do some pizza places or chains ditch real cheese?
The thing about cheese especially the one originally meant to be used on pizzas which is mozzarella, is that it is quite expensive to purchase at large scale.
For any pizza place producing lots of baked or cooked commodities containing cheese therefore, this becomes a problem.
In order to best tackle this problem, they seek out alternatives that would prevent the cost of production from rising up (which would invariably translate in the prices of the final commodity), while still offering the flavors and taste of mozzarella cheese.
As luck would have it, there is something called the “cheese analogue” — not fake cheese, which is simply an alternative for cheese.
Cheese analogue is made without the key ingredient in real cheese which is dairy fat, but instead, it has a cheaper ingredient: vegetable oil with some additives, that come together to create a product that behaves like cheese and also bears its flavor and taste to some extent.
As an ingredient used in making pizza by different pizza places, you’ll normally see it disguised under the name of “pizza cheese” or “pizza (a few wordings) and then cheese”.
So if you want to identify whether or not the cheese on your pizza is cheese analogue, then one of the things to look out for is how it is identified on the ingredient list.
It is a legal requirement to state exactly the kind of cheese used in a food, even though it isn’t a requirement to state names like “fake cheese” on the labelling when something other than the original is used. Anything that isn’t cheese however, would not be labelled as “cheese”.
Aside from the cheese analogue, you may have pizza chains that opt for vegan cheese instead, which is basically cheese made from ingredients other than diary products.
The vegan cheese, just like cheese analogue, is low in fat when compared to the normal dairy cheese, and where the big difference lies is in the source of protein. In this case, the sources include vegetables, seeds, nuts and other ingredients such as nutritional yeast and other non-dairy products.
Depending on the brand that is producing the vegan cheese, you can have a product that nearly matches the original in terms of consistency and the way it melts over pizza crust, or one that somewhat deviates from it by being hard and only melting when grated.
Are cheese alternatives healthy?
Because they are labelled cheese alternatives, imitation cheese, forged or fake cheese does not mean that they are harmful when ingested.
Imitation cheeses are only made from ingredients that aren’t in the original cheese but they are perfectly safe to consume without any health consequences.
The only downsides of eating them in a dish is that you won’t be getting the original cheese experience which is kind of annoying when you think about it.
What pizza chains use cheese analogue?
Having discussed the reasons why pizza chains might opt for cheese analogue, what ingredients are present in cheese analogue, and how safe they are when ingested, let us turn our focus to pizza chains that actually employ cheese analogue in their products.
Does Pizza Hut use 100% real cheese
From the ingredient list on pizza hut‘s website, it is clear that the ingredient they label “cheese” does contain real cheese in it, judging from the ingredients listed which include: pasteurised milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes, but then, there is the addition of preservatives, flavor enhancers and many more additives which are there to affect taste, looks and smell of the product.
If there was to be an answer to the question whether Pizza Hut uses ONLY 100% fresh cheese with no additives and flavour enhancers, then the answer would be no. However, they do use 100% cheese alongside other additives in their “cheese” as labelled on their products.
So it can be said that pizza hut uses processed cheese and not 100% real cheese.
Does Papa John’s use real cheese?
Looking through the Papa John’s website for ingredient list, we find that their “cheese” ingredient contains: part skim mozzarella, which is 100% cheese, but then again it contains additives such as sodium propionate which is a chemical preservative and sodium citrate which is a flavour inducing preservative that keeps cheese for longer durations, and also enables it to melt without greasing.
So Papa John’s also uses processed cheese that contains real cheese in it although we’re not sure of its percentage.
Does Dominos pizza use real cheese?
Going through the ingredient list on the Domino’s pizza’s website, it is expected that they also use real cheese in their “cheese” ingredient; pasteurised milk, cultures, salt and enzymes which are the basic ingredients in any real quality cheese.
But it doesn’t stop there too, as there are additives which are added to the cheese to preserve it, add color to it and prevent mold growth.
So dominos pizza too uses processed cheese for their pizzas.
Does Little Caesars use imitation cheese?
Looking through the Little Caesars ingredient page, we can conclude that they also use real cheese since the ingredients listed are the basic ingredients you’d expect in a standard cheese: pasteurized part skim milk, cheese cultures, salt and enzymes.
But then also, there is the addition of powdered cellulose in some cheeses which is an inactive ingredient meant to prevent caking.
And that is about it when it comes to the additives you’ll find in Little Caesars cheese, which is pretty simple in comparison to the cheeses from other pizza chains.
So once again, Little Caesars uses processed cheese with actual cheese in it, but their cheeses aren’t as processed as that from other pizza chains.
“Cheese” might not still mean real cheese
Even though in all the five major pizza chains ingredients list we went through, we got the indication that real cheese is actually used in the “cheese” ingredient alongside other additives, it may still be that the real cheese as claimed on the list isn’t real or 100% real. It may be cheese analogue, who knows?
There is no conclusive way to be able to tell this unless you’re part of the system where production of the cheese takes place.
For now we can only cross our fingers and hope that what the pizza chains are saying is true, and that they actually use 100% cheese as part of the ingredients in their cheese, and no form of shady stuff is going on underground.
And one more thing, processed cheese is not necessarily a bad cheese. In fact, processed cheese has a lot of advantages over natural cheese. For instance, it would last longer, will not separate when cooked and look so much better and cost less.
It is also nearly equally as tasty and aromatic as natural cheese although it may not be as healthy as the latter.
How can you tell real cheese from fake cheese?
Typically, the best way you’ll be able to tell real cheese from fake cheese is from the labelling of the product.
It has been made a compulsory act for manufacturers to differentiate between cheese, cheese analogue and processed cheese — which is basically cheese that contains at least 51% real cheese in it and then other added ingredients such as oil, coloring, sugar etc.
Processed cheese would typically be labelled as “cheese food” or “cheese product” and will not be labelled as “cheese”. Only actual cheese would be labelled as “cheese” So take note of that when looking for cues on the packaging.
What pizza chain uses frozen dough
Domino’s pizza sometimes makes doughs ahead of time and puts them in the refrigerator.
Ahead of time here means hours before they’re been put to use and not days or weeks as you might be thinking.
Papa John’s claims that their doughs are 100% fresh and are never frozen.