Frequently Asked Questions
At Sargento Foods, cheese is our favorite subject. Below are our answers to some of the questions we are asked most frequently.
There is no ongoing recall on Sargento® branded products. We recalled select products in February 2017 and removed them from shelves at that time. The FDA affirmed that the recall is closed.
Most sales of our products are made in retail stores. Please use the Sargento.com Product Locator to find a specific Sargento® product at a store near you. We sell some of our products in limited parts of the country through AmazonFresh.com. Please check to see if Sargento® products are available to you online for your location as we’re unable to ship our products directly to you.
Those white crystals are most likely calcium lactate crystals, and they are safe to eat. Calcium lactate crystals can form from the natural break down of the cheese. Though calcium lactate crystals may appear on any Sargento® cheeses, Cheddar and Colby varieties are the most common.
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.
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.
Sargento 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.
Sargento® products are packaged by weight, not by volume. A package labeled as 8 ounces weighs 8 ounces. We also give the corresponding cup (volumetric) measurement for ease in recipe use. A package of shredded cheese that weighs 8 ounces fills a 2-cup measuring cup. Although there are 8 ounces in a liquid cup measure, 8 ounces in weight won’t always yield the same cup measure. Eight ounces of shredded cheese equals 2 cups; four ounces of shredded cheese equals 1 cup.
Some other food examples might be even easier to visualize. Eight ounces of corn flakes equals 8 cups. Eight ounces of popped popcorn equals 16 cups. Cup measure will vary based on the density of the food product.
Sargento 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, to assure optimum product freshness.
Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley; ingredients not generally found in natural cheeses. However, there is always the possibility of a trace amount of gluten being introduced during the cheese making process. Depending on your sensitivity, we recommend you consult with your doctor or dietician to determine what is best for your specific health needs.
The Sargento® Sweet Balanced Breaks® and Sargento® Balanced Breaks® Cheese and Crackers varieties which include graham crackers, whole grain wheat, wheat flour, wheat germ and barley contain gluten. Many Balanced Breaks® varieties are packaged in the same manufacturing plant so all Balanced Breaks® products affected include a statement that they’re made in a facility that also processes wheat. You’ll notice 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, barley, or their cross-bred hybrids. If you have questions about how our products may affect your medical condition, we suggest you discuss this information with your doctor.
Thank you for your interest in our products. Sargento 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.
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 listed. Additional letters and time stamp identify the production line and time it was packaged.
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. Some 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.
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. If you have questions about lactose intolerance, we suggest you discuss this information with your doctor or dietician as Sargento cannot provide medical advice. Additionally, there are many websites dedicated to explaining more about lactose in cheese which may help.
All Sargento® shredded, sliced, and Ricotta cheeses, and refrigerated natural cheese snacks (e.g. cheese sticks and Snack Bites® products) are nut-free and produced in manufacturing plants that contain no nuts. The Sargento® Balanced Breaks® products, including Balanced Breaks® Cheese and Crackers, are packaged in a separate manufacturing facility that does contain peanuts and tree nuts. Some Balanced Breaks® products contain nuts and others bear an advisory label statement that they are made in a facility that also processes peanuts and tree nuts.
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.
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.
We use powdered cellulose and/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.
We do not recommend freezing our cheese for a variety of reasons. Our packaging is developed to protect the product from oxygen and lighting conditions found in most retail stores, then handled and stored under refrigerated temperatures. The packaging was not developed to withstand freezing temperatures and not all cheese varieties stand up to freezing as well as others. Additionally, freezing and thawing may change the texture of cheese resulting in crumbling or clumping.
Most varieties of Sargento® Balanced Breaks® snacks 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® snacks 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 made with the traditional cheese making methods (directly from milk usually by curdling the milk with enzymes and pressing the curd).
“Natural cheese” is an established term within the cheese industry to distinguish these cheeses from “process cheese”. Process cheeses are made by grinding, mixing, and heating natural cheeses at high temperatures with the addition of other dairy ingredients and additives.
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 does not offer public tours, if you’re interested in visiting cheese plants in Wisconsin, you may want to visit the website for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board to download its publication titled “A Traveler’s Guide to America’s Dairyland’ available through this link: http://www.eatwisconsincheese.com/cheeses/travelers-guide-to-americas-dairyland-map
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 rennet and none contain pork enzymes. The Sargento® natural cheeses which 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.
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.