What are food additives? Do your cheeses contain any?
Bel cheeses are first and foremost made from milk and dairy-derived ingredients. Some of our cheeses like The Laughing Cow®, Apericube® and Kiri® contain small amounts of additives. Additives play a vital role. Some, for example, provide the cheese with a creamy texture or maintain its integrity. For its products, Bel uses only regulatory-approved additives clearly shown to be safe by international and national public health authorities. We are aware that additives raise concerns among some of our consumers. That's why, while there is no scientific evidence calling into question the safety of the additives used in our cheeses, our research and development teams are engaged in an effort to gradually reduce the number of additives whenever possible, without diminishing food safety or the taste or texture of our cheeses.
Why do you use the portions format for some Bel cheeses?
The single-serving portions format has many benefits for our consumers. Beyond its fun and convenient characteristics, it also preserves our products perfectly and provides a solution to such societal challenges as food safety, nutritional balance and even the fight against food waste. It practically serves as a measure to help consumers eat the quantity adapted to their needs. Aware of sustainable development issues, Bel takes a serious view of its environmental footprint and leads an initiative to continuously improve its packaging. To learn more
Do your cheeses contain enough calcium?
Milk, dairy products and cheese effectively help cover calcium intake needs. That's why health authorities around the world recommend eating dairy products on a daily basis. The calcium content of our cheeses vary depending on the recipe and the region of the world to adapt to local needs and processes. On average, Bel cheeses contain 120mg to 900mg of calcium per 100 grams of product.
Are your cheeses high in salt?
At Bel, the nutritional quality of our cheeses is of particular importance. Which is why we are continuously improving our recipes. Salt plays vital technical, health and organoleptic roles in the cheese making process. The salt content in Bel products is on par with that of other cheeses, and as such is fully compatible with a balanced diet. Nevertheless, attentive to the recommendation of public health officials, Bel progressively reduces the salt content of its products as long as the food safety or the taste or texture of our cheeses is not diminished. The salt content in The Laughing Cow®, for example, has been reduced by 20% since 2000.
I have always wondered what the casing of Mini Babybel® is made from?
The wax used to coat Mini Babybel® is a combination of paraffin and microcrystalline waxes, along with a natural colorant. Its “food contact” quality conforms to very stringent regulatory standards. If you accidentally swallow it, no need to worry, as it carries no health risks.
Can you guarantee the quality and safety of your products throughout the world?
It is our responsibility to guarantee the quality, traceability and food safety of our products from the very earliest stage of the production chain through to consumption, everywhere in the world. Each stage of the life cycle of our products is closely monitored and entirely traceable. Our 27 production sites throughout the world are governed by stringent quality and safety requirements defined by the Group. Find out more
Where did the name Bel come from?
You don’t know? Bel is a family company named after its founder, Jules Bel. It all began in 1865, when he set up his comté cheese curing and trading business in the Jura region of France. In 1904, his son Léon took over the business. At the end of the First World War, the cheese industry boomed. Léon Bel saw the potential of processed cheese: tasty, cheap, easy to transport and with a longer shelf life. In 1922, he founded the Fromageries Bel Company, now headed by Antoine Fiévet who represents the 5th generation of family directors. Find out more about Bel history
Are the Bel international brands consumed in France made in France?
The Laughing Cow portions,®, Kiri®, Mini Babybel® and Boursin® products sold in France are produced in France. Except for Leerdammer® which is produced in its country of origin, Holland.
The Laughing Cow® and Apericube® are sometimes found on non-refrigerated shelves. Is this normal?
That's perfectly normal! Both cheeses belong to the processed cheese family. As such, they undergo an ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment during the cheese making process and are immediately packaged hot in hermetically sealed packages to ensure air-tightness. Just like a carton of UHT milk, you can store them without refrigeration at moderate room temperature. However, to better appreciate their taste, we recommend keeping them in your fridge.
I've heard that the E330 additive found in the Laughing Cow® could be a health risk. Is that true?
The Laughing Cow® does contain E330, more commonly know as citric acid. Citric acid occurs naturally in lemons and other citrus fruit, from which it takes its name, and can also be produced for use in food. Its sole purpose in cheese making is to give cheese a uniform texture. Citric acid is authorized for use as a safe food additive by European and world health and food safety authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
You advertise Mini Babybel® as being 98% milk – What is the other 2%?
Mini Babybel® is indeed made up of 98% milk, as well as salt, bacterial cultures and microbial enzymes like the majority of pressed cheeses.
How can we find out the ingredients of Bel products and their nutritional content?
Giving our consumers access to nutritional information is a key factor in promoting a balanced diet. Bel brands worldwide provide this information on their packaging, websites and customer services dedicated to nutritional matters. Feel free to ask question to the Bel customer service
Is The Laughing Cow® really made from low-grade cheeses or even cheese rinds ?
Absolutely not! Our specifications are strict. We use only quality ingredients, which are subjected to rigorous tests in our laboratories. The Laughing Cow® is made from skimmed milk, quality cheeses (cheddar, gouda, emmental) from which the rinds are removed, and butter. To obtain a creamy texture, we add milk proteins as well as emulsifying salts.
Is your packaging environmentally friendly?
Before it becomes waste, our packaging fulfils a number of specific functions: preserving and protecting the products, enabling their safe transport and storage, providing information to consumers, etc. To reduce its ecological footprint, Bel follows a policy of continual improvement and eco-design of its packaging, with an emphasis on the selection and reduction of packaging materials at the source. Our goal? To limit the quantity of materials used to the bare minimum, whilst meeting technical and regulatory requirements (food hygiene, safety, and preservation, protection, information, etc). For example, the thickness of the aluminum packaging wrapped around the Kiri® portion has been reduced to 10 microns. To learn more about the Group’s environmental approach
Are emulsifying salts harmful?
Emulsifying salts are used in processed cheeses such as The Laughing Cow®, Kiri® and Apéricube®, to aid in the blending of different types of cheese and other dairy products and give a smooth and even texture to the cheese. It’s a bit like white wine that is used to thicken all the cheese in a fondue. The quantity of salts necessary for producing Bel processed cheeses is less than the regulations allow. Emulsifying salts in such doses have been studied scientifically and proven to be safe.
Why Mini Babybel®... is there a maxi Babybel®?
Indeed, Mini Babybel®‘s big brother is known simply as Babybel®. Launched by Bel in 1952, Babybel®, like Mini-Babybel® broke the mould of its generation of cheeses by offering a cheese in a modern format, adapted to new consumer trends. Nowadays, Babybel® exists in 200 g and 380 g versions in Spain, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and many other countries.
Can you guarantee the quality and safety of your suppliers' products?
Bel evaluates its suppliers through audits and testing of ingredients upon delivery and at the time of use. We use raw materials of the highest quality in compliance with strict specifications. These high standards are a prerequisite for the consistent high quality of our cheeses. To know more
Some Bel portions are wrapped in aluminum foil. Isn't that dangerous to your health?
At Bel, we use aluminum to wrap some of the cheeses we make, such as The Laughing Cow®, Kiri®, Apericube®, and Boursin®. Aluminum wrapping keeps our cheeses from drying out and protects them from exposure to oxygen, light, impurities, and microorganisms. The food-grade aluminum foil used in our packaging makes an insignificant contribution to natural aluminum intake. Further, our control and monitoring process involves a set of criteria that includes aluminum.
Where does the milk for your cheeses come from?
In 2016, Bel collected two billion liters of milk from 2,700 producers. The milk is supplied by producers and co-operatives located close to production sites where the Group manufactures cheese from liquid milk (France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Ukraine, United States etc.). For the United States subsidiary, for example, milk is supplied by dairy cooperatives as prescribed by the Group's sustainable purchasing charter.
Isn't cheese too high in fat?
Produced from milk, cheese naturally contains milk fats. A portion of cheese usually contains less than 10 g of fat (*) as well as essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, several vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B), minerals (phosphorous) and trace elements (zinc). In the United States, for example, an individual serving of The Laughing Cow® contains 4 g of fat. That’s less than a knob of butter!
(*) Source ANSES, CIQUAL, 2015