Although Kraft’s ingredient list says their spreadable product does contain cheese, it is not considered an actual cheese product according to FDA standards since it is a shelf-stable product that contains numerous added ingredients such as emulsifiers and flavor enhancers.
This holds true for all processed cheese flavored products, cheese foods and cheese spreads which, according to the FDA, must be labeled as such.
According to Kraft, the company that produces the Cheez Whiz cheese spread, Cheez Whiz is made with modified milk ingredients, cheese (which includes milk ingredients, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, color, microbial enzyme, lipase), water, corn maltodextrin, salt, sodium phosphates, seasoning, sodium alginate, ground mustard, lactid acid, sorbic acid and (more) color.
The FDA (in a super short definition): “Pasteurized process cheese spread is the food prepared by comminuting and mixing, with the aid of heat, one or more of the optional cheese ingredients…with or without one or more of the optional dairy ingredients…with one or more of the emulsifying agents…and with or without one or more of the optional ingredients…into a homogeneous plastic mass, which is spreadable at 70 deg. F.”
Yum! A homogeneous plastic mass?? Sounds tasty, doesn’t it!?
So since cheese spreads can include optional dairy ingredients, optional cheese ingredients and emulsifying agents or a mixture of, real cheese manufacturers do not accept these production practices, which means from a technical standpoint, Cheez Whiz is not considered a real cheese product by more than just the FDA.
If you’re wondering the difference between natural cheese and processed cheese, the super-basic answer is that natural cheese has the whey removed and does not use emulsifiers, whereas processed cheeses and cheese spreads contain both whey and emulsifiers.
You will also notice that processed cheese products have a longer shelf life than natural cheese (thanks to the added preservatives) and is much less expensive than real or natural cheese.