In my search for cheese today, I discovered every pre-packaged cheese had one thing in common - Calcium Chloride. I finally discovered a clean organic cheese that was outlandishly expensive to top our pizzas tonight, but it left me curious to know, what is Calcium Chloride and can I get away with the cheapo cheese next time?
Calcium Chloride, I discovered, is used by the dairy industry to make the cheese dry and firm. It is a by-product of the creation of soda ash, which is made by adding ammonia to limestone. Non-food uses for Calcium Chloride include road de-icer (sprayed on the roads during snow storms to keep the roads from freezing), an additive in plastics and an additive in fire extinguishers. It is also used to help set concrete. Industries are warned that Calcium Chloride will corrode steel.
This is another chemical listed on the Canadian MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet.) It carries the warning that Calcium Chloride is an irritant to skin. Also the MSDS says:
WARNING! CAUSES IRRITATION TO SKIN, EYES, AND RESPIRATORY TRACT. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED OR INHALED.
The instructions continue to recommend the induction of vomiting and immediate medical treatment if swallowed.
I believe we will be sticking with the expensive cheese from now on. I understand that these warnings are for the pure substance, unadulterated by food, and a high concentration of Calcium Chloride, but I cannot find it acceptable to consume or to feed my children things that are poisonous. Not even in what the FDA calls "acceptable amounts" .
Please read the labels on everything you purchase. If you aren't certain what it is, don't eat it until you look it up! Then, at least, you are making an educated decision.