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In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Week, we’re here to help you pick out some of our vegetarian cheeses to fill your sandwiches, veggie burgers, pastas, and soups. What better way to celebrate than by munching on as much veggie-friendly cheese as possible?

So what makes some cheese vegetarian and some not? The distinction in Tillamook Cheeses depends on the rennet we use. Rennet is an enzyme, which is vital to our cheese-making process because it kick-starts the formation of cheese curds. We add a tiny amount of rennet to make the milk coagulate, which then begins to develop into curds.

For centuries, the only known milk coagulant for cheesemaking was an enzyme from a cow’s stomach. Now we’re able to make most of our cheeses using a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly.

This veggie-friendly rennet is used to make all of our cheese except Tillamook Vintage White Medium Cheddar, Vintage White Sharp Cheddar, Vintage White Extra Sharp CheddarVintage White Smoked Extra Sharp Cheddar, and the 3 Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, which use traditional, bovine rennet. Other than these five cheeses, all other Tillamook Cheese is vegetarian!

What’s your favorite cheesy vegetarian meal to cook up!?

87 comments

Julie

I really appreciate that your cheeses are vegetarian friendly and are from cows not given bovine growth hormone. I would love to know if they are fed GMO foods? Thanks!

September 19th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your question, and for being a fan of our veggie-friendly cheese! To answer your question about GMOs, we know this topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers, and we want to be as accurate as possible in responding to questions about it. The farmer-owners and all the dairymen who supply milk for Tillamook dairy products use a variety of forages and grains for feed. While the mixture varies dairy to dairy, it’s likely to include a mix of grass, alfalfa, some corn silage, and grains such as barley or soy.

At this time, and in the absence of any clear standards or definitions around genetically modified substances, it is hard to know if the feed purchased for every cow contributing to our milk supply is GMO-free. In today’s market, it is extremely difficult to source feed for cattle that is 100% verified as GMO-free, given how pervasive GMOs are in the grain supply chain. Even organic feed for organic farms is extremely difficult to verify as GMO-free because of cross-pollination.

Thanks again for your comment! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them here on the blog, or contact us here.

All the best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

October 1st, 2013 at 12:06 pm

veggie

Thanks for making vegetarian friendly cheese

December 29th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

You're so welcome! Let me know if you give any of these recipes a whirl!

Best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

January 3rd, 2014 at 3:23 pm

kim

Does Tillamook use non-gmo certfied rennet or is it gmo?

February 20th, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Kim,

Thank you for your question. We know the GMO topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers, and we want to be as accurate as possible in responding to questions and concerns about it. Your question regarding rennet involves a somewhat complex answer, so I will do my best to explain it here.
For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Vintage White Medium Cheddar, Vintage White Sharp, Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, and 3 Year Aged Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar), we use a traditional bovine rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian.

For the majority of our other cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is made by first inserting cow genes into a microbe. During the fermentation process, the microbe grows and produces rennet that is exactly like that produced naturally. After purification, the end rennet product does not contain any genetically modified material, since it no longer contains DNA from the cow gene. It is considered non-GMO by U.S. food industry standards. This rennet allows us to make vegetarian-friendly cheese that maintains the high standard of quality that Tillamook is famous for. We use this rennet to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey.

I hope this information helps. Thanks again for taking the time to write to us, and please let me know if you have any more questions!

Thanks,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

February 27th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Sylvia Lawrence

You said " For the majority of our other cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is made by first inserting cow genes into a microbe."

How is this vegetarian?

April 12th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Sylvia,

Thank you for your question! I know this topic can be confusing so I’ll try to clear it up a bit! Yes, the final rennet product is vegetarian-friendly. The rennet does originate from a cow gene, however after the fermentation and purification process, it no longer has any traces of animal ingredients.

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

April 16th, 2014 at 2:54 pm

jewel

Hi is the bandon cheese kosher?

May 11th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Jewel,

Thanks for your question! No, Bandon Cheese is not certified kosher. The only Tillamook Cheese that is kosher is our Kosher Medium Cheddar. However, Bandon Cheese is vegetarian and Halal certified!

All the best,
Lauren of the Tillamook team

May 12th, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Kevin

Basically, the fermentation rennett that coagulates the milk is caused by a genetically modified microorganism. That organism is then killed by the cheese making process, thus making it gmo free. Is this accurate?

July 6th, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your question. Yes, after purification during the fermentation process, the end rennet product that we use for the majority of our cheeses does not contain any genetically modified material. It is considered non-GMO by U.S. food industry standards. I know the GMO subject a complex one with frequently changing details and definitions. If you’d like to chat more about this topic, please reach out to our Consumer Relations team at any time.

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

July 9th, 2014 at 11:24 am

Ahmed

Finally I can enjoy sandwich. Couple questions if you don't mind:

Are all the rennet you use from caws? or do you use other animals as well?

I was in a store yesterday, but I couldn't find any labeling on your cheese that says halal or kosher.

July 19th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Ahmed,

For the majority of our cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is used to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Provolone, Muenster, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey. The finished product of all of these cheeses is halal certified, but the only cheese that is kosher certified is our Kosher Medium Cheddar Cheese.

For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, Sharp White, Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar, 3 Year Aged Vintage Extra Sharp White, and Smoked Vintage White Extra Sharp), we use a traditional, bovine cow rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian.

I hope this answers your questions!

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

July 23rd, 2014 at 8:47 am

Maya

Hi, I have your medium cheddar cheese and it says the ingredients are cultured milk, salt, enzymes, and annatto (color). Under it it says contains no animal rennet (vegetarian). But I was wondering are your enzymes vegetarian? I have a lot of different things just wondering if that type of cheese is vegetarian. Thanks!

July 29th, 2014 at 11:51 am

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Maya,

Thanks for your question! I think you will be happy to hear that our Medium Cheddar Cheese is vegetarian! The enzyme used to make this cheese is a fermentation-produced rennet that is vegetarian-friendly. The rennet is also kosher and halal certified. I hope this information is helpful!

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

July 29th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Kim

in a prior comment you state:

"we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is made by first inserting cow genes into a microbe. During the fermentation process, the microbe grows and produces rennet that is exactly like that produced naturally."

what is the bacteria that the cow gene is put into? or what other materials are used in the fermentation process? is there any soy used...ever? My son is so sensitive to soy that he gets sick from eating things even made with soy. he is allergic to ALL vitamin E as 99% of it is all made from soy.

I really appreciate your help. thank you!

August 2nd, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Kim,

Thank you for your question! Good news, our cheese is 100% soy-free, including the fermentation-produced rennet that is used in our vegetarian cheeses listed above. There is also no vitamin E, so your son should be able to eat our cheese!

Thanks again for your question!

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

August 5th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Kenai

Does Tillamook financially support Monsanto in ANY way by means of purchasing Any of the technology created by Monsanto in the production of its (Tillamooks) cheese?

Does Tillamook purchase and use rBST also known as rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) that was created, produced, or sold by Monsanto?

September 23rd, 2014 at 10:24 am

Kenai

Hello,

Are you planning to answer my question? Delay in answering.....does this indicate your answer might be embarassing to Tillamook Corporation?

September 25th, 2014 at 6:43 am

Kenai

People deerve to know what their dollars support. People deserve to know if, by purchasing Tillamook cheese, they are supporting Monsanto in any way.

September 25th, 2014 at 6:46 am

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Kenai,

Thank you for your comment! Quality has always been a hallmark of the Tillamook brand, beginning with the milk delivered to our facilities. Our farmer-owners have each signed a pledge to never use artificial growth hormones (rBST) and require the same commitment from all dairy farmers who supply milk for our products. I hope this answers your question!

All the best,
Lauren of the Tillamook team

September 29th, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Karen Mack

Hello,

My husband and I have been avid supporters of Tillamook cheeses over the past 30 years, but to now find out that you aren't verifying that your dairy cows eat only non-gmo crops has just turned myself and all my family off to your product.

I hope Tillamook will soon realize the importance of ensuring a quality GMO-free product for its consumers, or I am afraid you are going to be suffering major losses as this news gets out...and it will!

I look forward in the near future to seeing new organic, GMO-free products from Tillamook.

Thank you,
Karen Mack

October 12th, 2014 at 11:39 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Karen,
Thanks for taking time to share your feedback with us here on the Tillamook blog, and for your years as a Tillamook fan. We are doing our best to monitor, understand, and react to the continually new information on the GMO topic. We recognize that this topic is complex, with lots of changing definitions, especially at this time. As for your mention of organic, in order for Tillamook Cheese to be certified organic, every farm that makes up our cooperative, as well as any additional contract milk suppliers, would need to individually attain organic certification, which is a very costly and time-consuming process. At this time, TCCA has not decided to undergo the official organic certification process. Please know, we are definitely listening to your feedback and sharing it with our co-op leaders.

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook Team

October 16th, 2014 at 10:15 am

Nathaniel Peterson

Hi there!

I've been reading some of the questions and responses on this page, and it kind of piqued my interest because I previously assumed that most cheeses on the market, including Tillamook, would naturally require a GMO label due to the GMO fermentation process. If measure 92 passes, will Tillamook cheeses in their current form require GM labeling?

October 19th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Tia

Wow!
I am also surprised & alarmed to learn the news today that your cheese is likely containing GMOs via the feed fed to the cows.
This is sad news. I hope Tillamook will consider taking a stand against GMOs in your products. Yes I know about cross contamination but to not take a stand against GMOs means my whole family will no longer purchase Tillamook cheese.
I hope to hear soon that the coop does go GMO free & also gets GMO-free verified so that my family can again continue eating your cheese.
Thanks-

October 29th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Nathaniel,
Thanks for the question. It’s one we are asking as well, but we don’t have the answer yet. The language in the measure is complex and we are doing our best to research and better understand the potential implications of the measure particularly tied to products with potentially trace amounts of GE content. We will continue to seek clarity on the subject and will, of course, adhere to any labeling requirements that do become law.

Best,
Amalya of the Tillamook Team

October 30th, 2014 at 8:33 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Tia,
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us here on the Tillamook blog. We know the GMO topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers. It’s also a complex one with frequently changing details and definitions, and we want to be as accurate as possible in responding to questions and concerns about it. Here at Tillamook, we are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information on the topic. We are definitely listening to your feedback and sharing it with our co-op leaders.

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

October 30th, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Ahmed

Tillamock i icecream is halal and kosher or not.

October 30th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Nathaniel Peterson

Tia,

GMOs are not present in animals that have eaten GMO feed. Once the feed is consumed, all components of the feed are broken down during the digestion process. DNA..protein..it all gets broken down. We are NOT eating GMOs when we eat an organism that has eaten GMOs. Please understand this subtle distinction. Now, if the cow itself were genetically modified, that's a completely different story. However, currently no GM cows exist.

October 30th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Ahmed,
Thanks for reaching out with your question. At this time, the only certified kosher product we offer is the Kosher Medium Cheddar. I'll be sure to share your comment with the team!

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

October 31st, 2014 at 11:45 am

Kathie

Hi,
So these are the types of rennet used for cheese making. Can you please clarfy? Are you using Fermenatation Produced Chymosin rennet??

If you process is considered microbial rennet, where are you getting the microbes from??

Types of Rennet
Animal rennet (most expensive, up to 2x times cost of alternatives)

Microbial rennet (mold derived rennet)

FPC-Fermentation Produced Chymosin rennet (GMO)

Vegetable rennet (hard to source)

Citric acid or vinegar (often sourced from GMO corn)

November 23rd, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Kathie,
Thanks for reaching out to us for clarification. For the majority of our cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is used to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook Cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Provolone, Muenster, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey.
For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, Sharp White, Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar, 3 Year Aged Vintage Extra Sharp White, and Smoked Vintage White Extra Sharp), we use a traditional, bovine rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian.
If you’d like to chat more about this, please feel free to reach out to our consumer relations team directly: www.tillamook.com/contact.html

Thanks,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

December 1st, 2014 at 12:52 pm

sheila

I have heard that some enzymes in cheeses can be derived from soy. What do your enzymes come from? I have a terrible soy allergy. Also can you start stocking Northern Virginia area stores with more Tillamook?

December 3rd, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Shelia,
Thanks for reaching out with your question. I've got good news for you, there is no chance soy is contained in our cheeses! For the majority of our cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet (enzyme) product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is used to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook Cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Provolone, Muenster, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey.
For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses, we use a traditional, bovine rennet. If you’d like to chat more about this or have any additional questions, you can always reach out to our consumer relations team directly here or 1-855-562-3568.
I’m happy to hear you’re hungry for more Tillamook products out in Northern Virginia! I will share your comment with the team here, but there’s also something you can do to help! It’s up to each store to decide which of our products they’ll carry, so if there’s a specific flavor of our cheese you’d like to see on shelf, my best suggestion is to let them know. To make the process a little easier, we have a product request form that you can fill out, print, and drop off at your local store. Sometimes hearing a request straight from a consumer is just what the stores need to hear to start stocking more. Here’s a link to the form if you’d like to give it a try: www.tillamook.com/where-to-buy/request.html
I hope all of this information helps!

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

December 4th, 2014 at 9:36 am

Mic

Is there any reason why your Kosher cheese is so scarce? A new Wallmart store still after asking for a year does not carry the Kosher cheddar only a few Ralphs stores in our area has it but is usually out of stock the regular one is typically overstocked.

December 26th, 2014 at 10:41 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Mic,
Thanks for your question. It's actually up to each store to decide which of our products they'll carry, so I'm afraid I can't be of too much help here. Have you tried filling out our product request form? It might make the request process that much simpler for your stores and I'd say it's worth a try. You can also request that another store (outside of Ralphs and Walmart) start carrying it. Sometimes smaller stores are willing to place a special order for a request like this.
Depending on how strict your diet is, it might be helpful for you to know that our traditional Medium Cheddar has the same recipe as our Medium Cheddar Kosher Cheese, but it is not produced and packaged under the same official rabbinical guidance.
I hope this information helps!

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

December 30th, 2014 at 9:14 am

Jim

I'm supposed to be cutting back on cholesterol. Do some types of your cheese have a lesser amount than others?

January 27th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Jim,
Thanks for reaching out with your question. You can view the nutritional information (including cholesterol) for each of our cheeses by visiting the product pages here on Tillamook.com.
The cheeses with the lowest cholesterol are the Reduced Fat Medium Cheddar and Reduced Fat Monterey Jack Cheese. You can search to see if either of those cheeses are sold close to home using our Where to Buy Tool and your zip code.
I hope this answers your question! Let us know if there's anything else we can help with.

All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

January 27th, 2015 at 3:11 pm

JB

Love your company, but we as a family have decided to discontinue eating your product until you can certify GMO free feed. Thank you. I do hope you can do the right thing by your customers and discontinue use of harmful chemicals in your feed. As of nov 2014 the data out of MIT is conclusive GMO cause nuero problems in the developing brain. Mexico, Russia, the EU and the UK have all banned GMO feed. It's time your company and co-op farmers face this issue head on, be out in front of this issue and watch your company profit from ethics. Continue to ignore this issue and watch dairy consumption drop as tabacco did in 1959.

February 4th, 2015 at 11:09 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi JB,
Thank you for your comment and honest feedback. As we’ve mentioned on this blog post before, here at Tillamook, we are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions regarding GMOs, and we are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families. Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know we’re listening and share that feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders. We’re sorry to lose you as a customer, but please know that your comments are heard.
Sincerely,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

February 5th, 2015 at 9:56 am

Dan Saltzman

Tillamook Team,

I just read Callie's reply, located above in this blog. She wrote:
"At this time, and in the absence of any clear standards or definitions around genetically modified substances, it is hard to know if the feed purchased for every cow contributing to our milk supply is GMO-free. In today’s market, it is extremely difficult to source feed for cattle that is 100% verified as GMO-free, given how pervasive GMOs are in the grain supply chain. Even organic feed for organic farms is extremely difficult to verify as GMO-free because of cross-pollination."

That may be true, but it is also kind of misleading. The Tillamook Cheese owned TCCA Feedstore in downtown Tillamook is the leading supplier of Monsanto GMO seed and Round Up herbicide for the Tillamook Co-Op farmers in Tillamook County and beyond. TCCA is absolutely promoting GMO for higher yields/lower costs/higher profits. My family is involved in farming in Tillamook, and it is well known that only one farmer in the valley doesn't use GMO corn.

With Tillamook's new Co-Op campaign, I really hope TCCA becomes crystal clear about their use of GMO, instead of brushing off the issue.

April 8th, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Dan,

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog. Tillamook absolutely believes in the consumer’s right to know what they are purchasing, and we will always advocate for clarity and transparency when it comes to educating consumers about our Tillamook products. We are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions on the complicated topic of GMOs, and are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families.

Thanks again for sharing your concerns.

All the best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

April 20th, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Amy

All of this is information is very disappointing to me. The Tillamook co-op should be more environmentally conscientious. My family has eaten your cheeses for 20 years. After reading about the obvious use of gmo food and support of Monsanto industries, my family will be buying our cheese elsewhere.

Do us a favor, ban GMO grains. Grasses are the natural way for cows to eat, corn isn't even supposed to be a part of their diet!

If you could guarantee that grains fed to cows are non GMO, I would reconsider buying your products. Without organic certification. We must stop Monsanto from destroying our health!

May 3rd, 2015 at 8:06 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Amy,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us here on the Tillamook blog. As we’ve mentioned on this blog post before, we are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions regarding GMOs, and we are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families. Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know that we’re listening, and sharing this feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders. We’re sorry to lose you as a customer, but please know that your comments are heard.

Sincerely,
Amalya, of the Tillamook team

May 12th, 2015 at 5:13 pm

James Huber

Please don't let the fear mongering over GMO rennet or whether a cow once ate some GMO corn affect your decision making. There is zero harm from GMOs and letting these folks assail us with fear and misconceptions about them, simply encourages them. Stick to science, you're doing fine explaining it.

May 22nd, 2015 at 6:40 pm

Marc Brazeau

Dear Tillamook team,

I hope you guys don't give in to uninformed customers clamoring for you farmers to switch to non-GMO feed.

Think for a minute what that would me. Biotech corn and soy has been bred not to required insecticides and to pair with herbicides that are less toxic than the herbicides used in non-GMO production.

Switching to non-GMO feed would mean returning to older, more toxic herbicides and needlessly bringing insecticides back into the picture. That's not good for farmers, consumer or the environment.

Keep up the great work. Your cheese is wonderful!

May 22nd, 2015 at 11:32 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Marc,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here on the Tillamook blog. We know this topic is complex, and like we’ve said before, we’re sharing all of these comments from our consumers with the larger team here at Tillamook. We truly do appreciate you voicing your opinion here.
All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

May 27th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi James,
We appreciate you taking the time to comment here on the blog. I’ll be sure to share your feedback on this complex topic with the larger Tillamook team.
All the best,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

May 27th, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Joan DeLoretto

Thank you

July 1st, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Sarah

There is plenty of 'scientific research' showing that gmos ARE harmful to our health. 'You are what you eat' ring any bells? By eating meat or consuming products from animals fed gmo's we are in fact ingesting gmos. People don't want this Monsanto crap on their plate. Most people who know anything about gmos avoid it like the plague. I will not purchase Your products until they are gmo free. People don't want to be fed by a company who makes poison(Monsanto).

July 9th, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here on the blog. As mentioned before, we are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions regarding GMOs, and we are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families. Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know that we’re listening, and sharing this feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders. We’re sorry to lose you as a customer, but please know that your comments are heard.
Sincerely,
Amalya, of the Tillamook team

July 17th, 2015 at 10:36 am

Hamza

Hi.
Regarding Tillamook Ice cream. They contain mono and diglycerides and polysorbate 80. Are these vegetarian? Are the any animal byproducts in the ice cream or are your ice creams vegetarian/halal?
Thank you

August 23rd, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Hamza,

Thanks for asking! While our Ice Cream is not certified halal, most of our flavors are vegetarian. The only flavors that aren't veggie friendly are Fireside S'mores and Rocky Road, which both contain gelatin derived from pork. Thanks again for your comment! Let us know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

August 27th, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Bharani

What is the source of cow genes that is injected in the microbes to generate vegetarian rennet?

October 1st, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Bharani,
Thanks for your question. This is a bit scientific, but I’ll do my best to explain. The cow genes are not actually an ongoing part of the process to produce rennet today. Many years ago, a scientist isolated the gene from the tissue of a cow or calf for chymosin, which is the active enzyme in rennet. That gene was inserted by the scientist years ago into the DNA of a strain of bacteria, which was then used to grow a vegetarian-friendly rennet that is exactly like that produced naturally. Because the cow gene is now an inherent part of that bacteria strain, more genes are not needed to grow more of the bacteria. The enzyme for the rennet is produced by continuing to grow more of that bacteria (new cow genes are not needed each time). When more rennet needs to be produced, the manufacturers simply grow more of the bacteria through a fermentation process and then filter out the chymosin enzyme that the bacteria now makes as part of its normal growth process.

I hope that helps answer your question.

Sincerely,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

October 14th, 2015 at 8:28 am

Jason Fiske

Hello,

I can see by your responses (Tillamook team) that you are running a clean up crew that is not fully transparent.

Tillamook County Creamery Association forced all of its own farmers to grow GMO corn because the cost of hay was too expensive.

I spent a month in the valley talking to citizens, dairy farmers, and food farmers.

All are very uniquely and fairly upset about this decision.

It appears on this forum you claim that you are trying to clear up an issue - to me it appears as you are trying to buy time to abstract the precedent set by Tillamook Cheese itself forcing farmers to use GMO corn for cow feed.

If your company cannot insure that the cows are fed with non-gmo food than it sounds to me as if your company is out of control.

That may sound drastic but I do not believe it is.

What if a small child eats your cheese for one year and develops a kind of cancer that is unique to GMO related products?

If a child could be hurt or fatally flawed by the inability to monitor your food sources, the company is too large.

I believe the profit margins if your company would allow you to take losses for one year by locating GMO free feed and adding more representatives to be checking the feed - but they do not.

And in this way your company has become dangerous and reckless.

Public relations will almost surely delete this or tell me the answer is complex.

This is Oregon, and this is not okay.

It is not complex. You have changed your standards for profit.

October 20th, 2015 at 5:13 am

Amalya

Tillamook Team

Hi Jason,
Thanks for your comments. Do understand that TCCA operates as a cooperative, which means the 100 or so farming families that are members of the co-op are owners of the business and drive all co-op decisions made. As well, the cooperative does not impose farming practices on any of its member farms, besides strict standards for milk quality and animal welfare that the cooperative as a whole has established to ensure quality. Farming members of the co-op are certainly not told what crops to plant or not to plant on their land. Each farmer operates their own farming business individually, based on practices that are best suited to their land and animals, always keeping the highest quality as a priority. We do know that the GMO topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers. We are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions, and are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families. Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know we’re listening and share that feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders.

Sincerely,
Amalya of the Tillamook team

October 21st, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Jason Fiske

Thank you for your response.

I believe with an issue at hand as serious as your cheese potentially causing cancer in the bodies of its consumers from ignorance in the supply chain, some more clarification and discussion would be helpful for both parties involved.

I believe having public relations employees with a deeper understanding of farming practices and general sciences (especially science not sponsored or skewed by corporate profit) would be a very respectful approach to running a multi-million dollar food distribution company.

"Do understand that TCCA operates as a cooperative, which means the 100 or so farming families that are members of the co-op are owners of the business and drive all co-op decisions made."

I understand the TCCA is a cooperative. I understand families own the farms. I understand that members of the co-op are owners of the business and drive all decisions made.

The root of my inquiry has nothing to do with any of those statements.

"As well, the cooperative does not impose farming practices on any of its member farms, besides strict standards for milk quality and animal welfare that the cooperative as a whole has established to ensure quality."

Here you say the cooperative does not impose farming practices on any of its member farms to start - then you say "besides strict standards for milk quality and animal welfare".

Within this contradiction the word "quality" has been used as a term to divert. I want the milk "quality" to be high and I care about animals deeply as well. The diversion is that "quality" to me would mean the cows are not eating GMO corn. I do not care about myself more than an animal, but I do not want to be digesting the by-product of genetically modified organisms which are proven to cause cancer. You are what you eat. If the cow is eating the corn and I am eating the by-product of the cow I believe I am at risk for cancer.

"Farming members of the co-op are certainly not told what crops to plant or not to plant on their land. Each farmer operates their own farming business individually, based on practices that are best suited to their land and animals, always keeping the highest quality as a priority."

You are saying members are not told what crops to plant or not to plant on their land - what you are saying is you have given free reign to farmers to use GMO crops. You are saying you do not set a standard by even setting a preference for crops that are NOT genetically modified organisms that are proven to cause cancer. Again you are using "quality" as a diversion. I am not seeking details about the land or the animals in particular, I am seeking the quality of all organisms involved in this chain not be genetically modified organisms that cause cancer.

"We do know that the GMO topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers."

The GMO topic is not just "a sensitive and important one" - it is crucial for the health of the human species. We are the only country in the world that willingly grows and eats genetically modified organisms that are proven to cause cancer. For example, Russia and China have both rejected entirely our GMO corn crops.

"We are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions, ..."

Here you are claiming that you are doing your best to monitor - could you explain what monitoring means? It sounds as though you have given the farmers responsible for creating your food unmonitored free reign on using GMO crops without any resistance or investigation.

The information on GMO is not new. It is simply ignored by most companies and corporations and this is where the citizens are punished.

"(we)...are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families."

I understand you want to sustain the people that make it possible for your business to exist. This rings as a tagline.

"Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know we’re listening and share that feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders."

This response as a whole has made me both sad and angry.

Most of the responses in general sound extremely political and condescending.

If all of your cows are eating only genetically modified organisms that cause cancer - I think "listening and sharing feedback" is something a company who has lost control of its moral value in the face of gaining profit would say to divert the attention to an extremely serious issue that could literally be killing our children and loved ones.

I believe Tillamook is depending on the innocence and kindness of Oregon natives as a base for a slowly changing business model in the face of a struggling economy.

The profit margin decreases with a 100% GMO free supply chain for your food products and it seems to me you have made the decision to turn a blind eye and hire extra public relations staff to cover this matter up as effectively as possible.

This is simply my logical conclusion.

I am only continuing to debate this cause because Oregon and the health of its people and land is an issue which is very close to my heart.

I urge anyone reading this to understand if any public relations response of any kind is ever confusing to them - it is most likely a manipulation of some kind.

They are designed to confuse you and make you feel less than.

Just read above for proof - very kind and innocent mothers of children asking if there are any GMO's involved and these avatars of nice looking young girls responding saying "this is a complex issue" as if these smart and caring mothers do not understand.

Be brave Tillamook. Take action beyond public relations.

October 25th, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Kathleen

Tillamook,

I am very sad that Tillamook is waiting or unwilling to go non GMO. Will you have to loose money to start making changes? My family has supported you for years and will now be buying our milk and yogurt with a more responsible company. I understand that it is hard for a large company to make such a change but it is necessary not only for your customers health but for the soil/animals and eco systems you are contaminating by supporting GMO's.

November 6th, 2015 at 2:09 pm

johnny appleseed

So this fermentation produced rennet is a basic modification but even though you are not going as far altering the actual Dna it doesn't seem natural to me some foods are meant to be fermented but in the case of "fermentation produced rennet" it sounds like GMO on a basic level. Are there any side effects to eating this stuff?

January 9th, 2016 at 1:26 am

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi,

Thank you for reaching out to us here on the blog. Please be assured that the fermentation-product rennet we use is completely food safe, industry standard, and approved by the FDA. It is considered non-GMO by U.S. food industry standards. This rennet allows us to make vegetarian-friendly cheese that maintains the high standard of quality that Tillamook is famous for.

I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us here if you have any additional questions we can help with.

January 25th, 2016 at 8:59 am

Joanne

Hi ... I just purchased a block of the Extra Sharp Cheddar after looking at the ingredients. It says it "contains no animal rennet (vegetarian)"

However Amalya said "For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, Sharp White, Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar, 3 Year Aged Vintage Extra Sharp White, and Smoked Vintage White Extra Sharp), we use a traditional, bovine rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian."

So it is just the white sharp cheeses that contain the Animal Rennet.

Also how is the animal rennet acquired?

thank you, joanne

March 1st, 2016 at 11:03 am

Allen

Hi guys,
Do you use roundup or other pesticides on your cow feed to kill weeds? Is the cows diet pesticide free? If so why don't you call your cheese organic. When will you have organic cheese. Thanks

March 15th, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Jackie

Tillamook Team

Hi Allen,

Great questions. Our farmers know that healthy cows make the best quality milk and part of this is a healthy diet. The farmer-owners and all the dairymen who supply milk for Tillamook dairy products use a variety of forages and grains for feed. All of this is balanced by a nutritionist who also adds a vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure the healthiest cows possible, and thus the highest quality milk. The feed used by our farmers and suppliers is both home grown on our farmer’s fields and purchased.

In regards to pesticides, there are strict government standards in place to ensure that milk is safe, wholesome and nutritious. Pesticides, which include herbicides, are used sparingly in crop production and do not pose health concerns in U.S. dairy products. The Environmental Protection Agency has strict regulations about farm practices involving the use of pesticides and the Food and Drug Administration also monitors for pesticides. Dairy farmers consistently meet or exceed the strict regulations set forth by the EPA. Additionally, from the dairy to you, all milk and other dairy products go through strict quality controls to ensure freshness, purity and great taste.

At this time, we don’t offer certified organic products. We are, however, committed to making the highest quality dairy products in the most natural way possible. The milk used to make Tillamook products far exceeds state and federal quality standards and comes from cows that are not treated with artificial growth hormones. Feel free to discuss this more with us here!

All the best,

Jackie, of the Tillamook Team

March 18th, 2016 at 11:32 am

Jackie

Tillamook Team

Hi Joanne,
Thanks for your question! You are correct – currently it’s just a few of our aged WHITE cheddars that use traditional bovine rennet, made from an enzyme extracted directly from a cow’s stomach, which is how rennet enyzmes have traditionally been sourced for cheese-making for centuries. However, we are currently in the process of adjusting our white cheddar recipes so that they will be made with a vegetarian-friendly rennet, too. Keep an eye out for the new packaging to know when the switch has been made. Thanks again for reaching out!

All the best,

Jackie, of the Tillamook Team

March 31st, 2016 at 12:04 pm

AC

Is Bandon cheese made with hormone free milk? If so, why is not noted as such on the label (which would indicate that it does contain rbst)

April 27th, 2016 at 6:21 pm

Amanda

I have a question about your medium kosher cheddar cheese- you mentioned above that the recipe is the same for your medium kosher cheddar and medium sharp cheese. I was wondering if the only difference is the label certifying that the cheese is kosher or is the kosher cheese made by a different process such as the equipment being boiled or sterilized before the production?
I am asking because I would be interested in buying medium cheddar cheese and extra sharp cheddar cheese and wanted to know if it was not labeled kosher because of the potential costs and such involved in such a labeling process or because it is actually made differently- with different rennet/equipment that touched rennet and wasnt sterilized and boiled. thanks

April 27th, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Jackie

Tillamook Team

Hi AC, thanks for your question about Bandon Cheese! Bandon Cheese is made with cows not treated with artificial growth hormones, though please note that the FDA has stated that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST treated and non-rBST treated cows. I’ll share your suggestion with the Packaging team to start including that information on the Bandon Cheese!

All the best,

Jackie, of the Tillamook Team

May 2nd, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Jackie

Tillamook Team

Hi Amanda, thanks for asking about our Kosher Medium Cheddar Cheese! This cheese has the same delicious, award-winning taste as our traditional Medium Cheddar Cheese and we use the same recipe, but it’s produced and packaged under official rabbinical guidance. Like our traditional Medium Cheddar, our Kosher Cheese is made with a fermentation-produced rennet.

During the production of the cheese, the Rabbi personally adds enzymes to the milk to start the cheese making process. The Rabbi also supervises the packaging process to ensure that it meets Kosher specifications.

Let us know if you have any other questions, that's what we're here for!

All the best,

Jackie, of the Tillamook Team

May 2nd, 2016 at 4:37 pm

tj brown

Now that i know that your rennet does in fact begin with cow rennet enzymes as opposed to plant rennet which is in fact truly vegetarian vegetable based rennet I can no longer consume your cheese and will inform others of such.
You cannot in all honesty say it is vegetable rennet which is from plants when you start with cow enzymes.
Perhaps you should change your rennet practices and use plant rennet if saying its vegetarian or lable it as duch derived from cow enzymes.
Until I see it say completely derived from plant enzymes youve lost me and others as customers.

May 7th, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi TJ,
Thanks for reaching out. I am sorry to hear that you are disappointed in our current rennet sources, and will share your feedback with our Product Development team. Please do know that while the rennet we use is not strictly plant-based, but rather fermentation-produced, it is still considered vegetarian by food industry standards. We choose to use fermentation-produced rennet, as we feel it most closely mimics the flavor and quality profiles as traditional bovine rennet, which gives Tillamook cheddar cheese the taste our fans have come to love, while still enabling us to provide a vegetarian-friendly cheese. Our cheese makers don’t feel that would be possible with a strictly plant-based rennet.
All the best,
Sierra, of the Tillamook team

May 18th, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Tricia F. Az

Is the rennet GMO?

May 25th, 2016 at 11:27 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Tricia,
Good question! The rennet we use in our vegetarian cheese is considered non-GMO by U.S. food industry standards because after fermentation and purification, it no longer contains DNA from the cow gene. Thanks for reaching out!
All the best,
Sierra, of the Tillamook team

June 14th, 2016 at 4:28 pm

jen

I had your cheese last week and the sharp cheddar was the best i've ever had in cheddar. I'm disappointed that you are using GMO corn in your cow feed. I will not be buying your cheese again as my health is more important then taste.

August 2nd, 2016 at 1:14 am

Nancy

Are any of your cheeses considered dairy free? My daughter has fibromyalgia and can't consume dairy, but loves cheese and misses it.

August 15th, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Mahadi

Hi I need to know if Tillamook ice cream is vegetarian no animal or alcohol added or its Halal

Thanks

Mahadi

August 16th, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for your question! I'm sorry, but all of our products contain dairy. Since our milk suppliers also own the company I don't know of any plans to make products without dairy, but I will pass the request on to our Product Development team. Thanks for reaching out!

Sincerely,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

August 17th, 2016 at 10:12 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Mahadi,

Good question! If you wouldn't mind contacting our Consumer Relations team they can provide you with a list of ice creams that fit that criteria.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

August 17th, 2016 at 10:24 am

angela

Hi,

I don't support the use of GMO crops for feeding Tillamook cows because I don't support poisoning the ground with the type of pesticides that GMO grains require.

When farmers grow GMO grains from brands like Monsanto, they also must use the specific pesticide like Round Up, which is glyphosphate based.

I do not support poisoning the soil or nearby groundwater. In this way, I am really upset that farmers in the Tillamook Coop would be okay with poisoning the soil and groundwater.

GMO products are also highly contaminating to nearby non-GMO farms, and pose a unique threat in this way.

We've also learned that the pollinators, the bees, worldwide, are dying because of the use of Glyphosphate based pesticides.

Tillamook Coop seems to support this arrangement passively or actively. I will never buy Tillamook or support this company if you continue to allow your cows to eat GMO grains.

So---who cares if the GMO gets into your human body or not, perhaps only trace amounts make it into the cheese (which i doubt).. its about the health of the soil, the survival of the bees, and the responsibility of farmers to recognize what they are doing to the environment.

August 26th, 2016 at 12:41 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Angela,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out and share another facet of the GMO conversation. Everyone’s input is important to us, and we appreciate that you have contributed your thoughtful comments on this post. Here at Tillamook, we are doing our best to monitor, understand and react to continually new information and changing definitions about GMOs, and are always working to ensure our ability to sustain our almost 100 farmer-owner families. Please know that while we may not be able to resolve your concerns today, the action we can take right now is to let people know we’re listening and share that feedback with our farmers and co-op leaders.

Thanks again,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

August 29th, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Chris Meyers

DO NOT CHANGE YOUR WHITE CHEDDAR'S RENNET!! I was horrified to read that you might change over to a 'vegetarian' rennet for those. THOSE ARE THE MOST TRADITIONAL CHEESES LEFT. Made how cheese was for hundreds of years. If you remove the few remaining actual animal rennet products, I WILL NOT BUY TILLAMOOK AGAIN. Your vintage extra sharp white with no annatto and actual real rennet is the only reason I buy your product. BTW Are you going to keep the actual rennet for the 3 year aged? I cant believe youve sprung this on us.

December 2nd, 2016 at 7:51 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is correct that we have started using a fermentation produced, vegetarian friendly rennet for all of our cheeses so that everyone can enjoy them. The traditional (bovine) rennet we previously used to make our aged white cheddars has long been thought to be better suited for the flavor and texture profiles of aged cheeses. However, after a lot of hard work and observation, our Sensory Team and Product Development teams are confident that the aged white cheddars will not have any kind of noticeable flavor or texture difference now that they’re being made with the veggie-friendly rennet. These cheddars will still have the same signature flavor our fans have come to know and love for over 100 years. That being said, I will certainly share your comments with our Product Development team.

Thank you for your feedback.

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

December 2nd, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Chris Meyers

Sierra: Upto when were the old 3 year vintage white cheddar made? Are any of the old rennet products still in store? Im going to grab everything thats left and then Im done with Tillamook I will only eat Traditional cheese. Make at least one cheese again with the real rennet and I will come back. BTW I buy at least 1 babyloaf per week so its a loss for you.

December 3rd, 2016 at 4:10 am

Chris Meyers

Sierra: BTW Let me ask you something. Would rather have a real thing made with an ancient process (animal rennet) or something that a bunch of 'food scientists' sat together in a room and CREATED to be 'somewhat similar'? The idea is just absurd. Youre going in the wrong direction. Most companies are going more traditional, more organic, and youre doing this. If you need food scientists to make food, it isnt food. You need to produce ONE CHEESE at least with real rennet again. I just am opposed on every level to this.

December 3rd, 2016 at 4:18 am

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Chris,

This change started about a year ago, so the 3 year Vintage Extra Sharp White Cheddar you purchase in stores will still have bovine rennet for the next couple years since the cheese made with vegetarian rennet will need another 2 years to age. The 3 year with vegetarian rennet will be labelled as vegetarian when it is available in stores.

Thanks,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

December 5th, 2016 at 3:04 pm

Sierra

Tillamook Team

Hi Chris,

We understand that you are upset about this change and your comments have been recorded and shared with our Product Development team, who is responsible for creating new products and making changes to current products. We always welcome feedback from our consumers, which is why our team decided to make our cheese completely vegetarian in the first place. We are also working on making our yogurt line 100% vegetarian so that more people can enjoy our products. However, we certainly respect your opinion and understand why you feel this way. Thanks again for taking the time to voice your thoughts on this change.

Sincerely,

Sierra, of the Tillamook team

December 5th, 2016 at 3:13 pm
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