Is the “Laughing Cow” smirking at us?

After hunting high and low, in back of Chedder, Brie, Havarti and the rest of the cheese world, I finally asked a sales associate at my local Whole Paycheck grocery store: “Where’s the Laughing Cow cheese?”

For those not in the know, Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss is more than cheese. Those foil-wrapped wedges are tiny life rafts for those of us trying for a reduced-calorie diet. They are also the snack of choice for people who want to eat something at work without alerting the entire room. (The Garlic & Herb version of Laughing Cow does not serve this latter purpose.)

The foodie clerk told me the product was off the shelves while the kitchen police figured out what was meant by a change in the ingredient list. “When a maker adds ‘milk products’ we want to know exactly what that is,” she said. She urged me to get the company’s Mini Babybel Light cheese instead, which I did. (Apparently everything they make is cute miniature stuff.)

When I roamed around online looking for a definition for “milk products,” I discovered that my state, Oregon, helpfully defines it as “any fluid product which has been reconstituted, recombined, or fortified and contains milk, or any constituent part of milk, as an ingredient thereof.”

I also checked the company site and I found no mention of this milk-product change. So I emailed Bel Brands USA, the maker of the cheeses, and asked what gives. I await their answer. Fellow Laughing Cow fans, hang tight.

UPDATE: The Laughing Cow cabal is staying mum. Trader Joes’s has the cheese and it not worried about the “milk product” issue. Whole Foods still holding out–at least the one in Portland, Oregon, I use as a test market for all things expensive and healthy.

–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett


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