​With Velveeta recall, a new 'cheesapocalypse'

There's a new "cheesapocalypse" hitting America, but this time, it's not likely to boost demand for Velveeta.

Kraft Foods Group (KRFT) is recalling 260 cases of Velveeta sold to Walmart (WMT) because the batches lack enough preservatives and could "spoil prematurely and/or lead to food borne illness," the company said in a statement.

The recall poses an image setback for Velveeta, which is coming off a successful "Liquid Gold" campaign and its much ballyhooed "cheesapocalypse" earlier this year, when Kraft said some regions were facing a shortage of the cheese product. But with the latest twist, the processing mistake is only serving to remind consumers that Velveeta is, well, processed.

"I'll take the real cheese aged on wooden boards," one Twitter user wrote, while others wrote, "I wouldn't call it cheese" and other similar sentiments.

The recall affects Velveeta sold at Walmart stores in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Consumers who bought the cheese shouldn't eat it, the company said. Instead, they should return the Velveeta to the store where it was purchased for an exchange or refund. Kraft Foods didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ironically, the preservative that's lacking in the Velveeta is sorbic acid, which occurs naturally in many plants, according to the watchdog group Centers for Science in the Public Interest. The group rates the preservative as safe. (Additives it recommends consumers avoid range from some artificial colorings to aspartame.)

Nevertheless, the recall is a blow to Velveeta's carefully crafted image with its "Liquid Gold" campaign, which started in 2013 and uses a tongue-in-cheek approach to portray the cheese as fun and delicious. Of course, blocks of cheese that could go moldy aren't exactly either of those things.

The campaign, as well as new Velveeta products such as Velveeta Cheesy Skillets, had helped boost growth for the product. The company has said its Velveeta slices have boosted sales, while the dinner kits were gaining new customers.

Still, given that brand has survived 86 years, it's likely the cheese will come out of the latest cheesapocalypse with its golden image more or less intact.

  • Aimee Picchi

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