At Sargento Foods, cheese is our favorite subject. Below are our answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently.
Mold can develop on cheese once the product is exposed to air. Shredded, cubed and sliced cheese, because they have more surface area, often develop mold faster than chunk cheese.
The zippered packaging on most Sargento cheeses allows you to store the unused portion in the same package in which it was purchased, but even zippered packaging isn’t 100% airtight and doesn’t always prevent mold development.
Sargento Foods identifies all products with a freshness date. This date assures freshness in an unopened package only. Once the package is opened and the cheese is exposed to air, there’s the potential for mold to develop. For this reason, we recommend using our cheese within 5 days of opening, as stated on the back of the package. If you won’t be using all of the cheese in 5 days, you can freeze the remaining portion for up to 2 months. Be sure to press out as much air as possible before reclosing the package. Freezing and thawing may change the texture of the cheese, making it more crumbly.
Sargento Foods identifies all products with a freshness date. This date assures freshness in an unopened package only. Once the package is opened and the cheese is exposed to air, there’s the potential for mold to develop. For this reason, we recommend using our cheese within 5 days of opening, as stated on the back of the package. If you won’t be using all of the cheese in 5 days, you can freeze the remaining portion for up to 2 months. Be sure to press out as much air as possible before reclosing the package. Freezing and thawing may change the texture of the cheese, making it more crumbly. We recommend purchasing and using Sargento products by the date indicated to assure optimum product freshness. If you use the product after the date, you may experience less than ideal flavor and texture.
You’ll find the date code on the front of the package, stamped in black with numbers and letters. The cheese will be fresh in an unopened package stored properly until the date that’s listed. Additional letters indicate the production line on which the cheese was packaged and the time stamp tells us the time it was packaged
Rennets (enzymes) are added when making cheese to thicken the milk to form the curds. These milk-clotting enzymes originate in non-animal and animal sources. Most Sargento® natural cheeses are made with non-animal rennets. The Sargento® natural cheeses that may contain animal enzymes are those generally considered traditional Italian cheese styles such as Parmesan, Romano, Provolone, Asiago, and Fontina. Those cheese varieties are found in our Italian blends, sliced Provolone, grated Parmesan and Romano, and potentially any product with this cheese type listed. Animal rennet may also be found in Blue and Feta cheese types. All other Sargento cheeses contain non-animal enzymes.
No, our retail products aren’t kosher. If, however, you’re asking about the sources of our enzymes, most Sargento natural cheeses are made with non-animal rennets and none contain pork enzymes. The only Sargento natural cheeses that may contain animal enzymes are those that contain Romano, Fontina, or Asiago cheeses. Those three cheese varieties are in Sargento Shredded 6 Cheese Italian, Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian, and Sliced 5 Cheese Italian Blend. All other Sargento cheeses contain non-animal enzymes.
We’re pleased to tell you that all Sargento natural cheeses are acceptable for a gluten-free diet.
The Sargento Sweet Balanced Breaks® variety that includes graham crackers contains wheat. All Balanced Breaks varieties are packaged in the same manufacturing plant, so all Balanced Breaks packages include a statement that they’re made in a facility that also processes wheat.
You’ll notice that we use powdered cellulose or potato starch as anti-caking agents on some of our cheeses. When added to cheese, they prevent it from sticking together.
Powdered cellulose is a white, odorless, tasteless powder made from cellulose, a naturally occurring component of most plants. Potato starch is also a plant-based ingredient. Neither of these anti-caking agents is derived from wheat, rye, oats, barley, or their cross-bred hybrids, so they’re acceptable for a gluten-free diet.
The source of vinegar in Sargento Ricotta Cheese can vary, but it’s triple distilled, and, to the best of our knowledge, gluten is present at less than 20 ppm.
If you have questions about how our products may affect your medical condition, we suggest you discuss this information with your doctor.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to properly digest lactose, the predominant sugar in milk. This condition results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced in the small intestine. Levels of lactose intolerance differ from person to person.
When cheese is made, 96-98% of the lactose in the milk is removed. As cheese ages, even more lactose disappears. Most people who are lactose intolerant can eat hard, aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan because they’re naturally low in lactose. As cheese ages, the lactose in the cheese changes into lactic acid, which aids in digestion. Even a non-aged cheese like Mozzarella is less than 1% lactose.
Sargento natural cheeses are very low in lactose, and, in fact, many are lactose-free. Be sure to take a look at the nutrition facts panel on the package. If it lists the sugar content as 0g, then the cheese is lactose-free or very low in lactose.
Whether you develop symptoms of lactose intolerance often depends on how much cheese and other dairy products you eat, your ability to produce lactase, whether you eat a dairy product with a meal or by itself, and other variables. Generally it’s beneficial to eat dairy products with meals. If you have questions about lactose intolerance, we suggest you discuss this information with your doctor.
Yes, our shredded and sliced cheeses and natural cheese snacks can be frozen for up to two months. If you’ve already opened the package, be sure to press out as much air as possible before reclosing the package. Freezing and thawing may change the texture of the cheese, making it more crumbly.
Sargento Ricotta cheese can also be frozen for up to two months, but freezing may affect the texture of the cheese. If you freeze it, we suggest thawing it in the refrigerator. After thawing, you may find some liquid on top of the cheese. Just stir that liquid back into the cheese.
Powdered cellulose is a white, odorless, tasteless powder made from cellulose, a naturally occurring component of most plants. It’s refined into a very fine white powder and can be from a variety of plant sources. It’s not derived from wheat, rye, barley or their cross-bred hybrids, so it’s acceptable for a gluten-free diet.
We use powdered cellulose or potato starch as anti-caking agents on our cheese. When added to cheese, they prevent it from sticking together; they’re not harmful. They’re not used as fillers or as substitutes for cheese.
All Sargento shredded, sliced, and Ricotta cheeses, refrigerated natural cheese snacks, and non-refrigerated snacks are nut-free and are produced in manufacturing plants that contain no nuts. Sargento Balanced Breaks Snacks contain peanuts and tree nuts, but they’re packaged in a separate manufacturing facility. There’s no risk of cross-contamination with our cheeses.
All varieties of Sargento Balanced Breaks contain either peanuts or tree nuts. We take many steps to prevent one nut variety from being exposed to another nut variety, but because all varieties of Balanced Breaks are produced in the same manufacturing plant we include a statement in the ingredient list that each variety may contain peanuts or tree nuts.
Sargento cheeses are natural cheeses, containing four basic ingredients: pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, and enzymes.
Some companies sell process cheese. Process cheese only has to be 51% cheese and is made by pasteurizing and blending natural cheese; natural cheeses are trimmed, finely ground, and melted in kettles. Other ingredients that might be added include: cream, anhydrous milkfat, dehydrated cream, emulsifying agents, acids, water, salt, artificial color, enzyme-modified cheese, and lecithin.
Natamycin is a food grade mold inhibitor. It’s naturally derived through fermentation. It won't destroy any bacteria; it only prevents yeast and mold.
Milk fat is important to the texture and flavor of cheese. Any reduction in fat levels may change the flavor or texture of a dairy product. With current technology, it’s hard to make reduced fat cheese with the exact same flavor and consistency as traditional cheese.
Avoid broiling, since reduced fat cheese toughens quickly after melting. A good tip is to heat the food thoroughly and then top it with shredded reduced fat cheese. The heat of the food will usually melt the cheese without putting the dish back in the oven or microwave.
Thank you for your interest in our products. Sargento Foods doesn’t mail coupons on request, but you can find coupons periodically in newspapers, through supermarket circulars and websites, on our packages in stores, and through Facebook and other types of promotions.
Giving back to the community is an important part of the Sargento Foods’ corporate culture. As you can imagine, we receive many requests for donations. While we’re unable to contribute to every one, we support many non-profit organizations located in the areas where our employees live, work and volunteer.
Thank you for your interest. While Sargento Foods doesn’t offer public tours, if you’re interested in visiting cheese plants in Wisconsin, the website for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board features its publication titled "A Traveler's Guide to America's Dairyland." It’s available for download through the link below:
While we've always included commenting and rating recipes on our website, our new design is really all about you! There are more ways than ever for you to interact and find delicious inspiration. Now you have greater influence on the look and set-up of your account page. Your new account page will ensure that you get exclusive newsletter content and additional promotional offers sent directly to your inbox.
Not only can you save your favorite recipes, but we are encouraging you to submit recipes of your own. Some will even be tested in our kitchen and, eventually, winning recipes will be distributed through social media. Plus you can see what other real cheese lovers are saying and sharing through our social hub and join the conversation.