Old Fashioned Foods, Inc. of Mayville, Milwaukee, has entered a plea agreement to resolve federal charges but maintained it was only trying to improve its product to meet consumer requirements.

The company's product was accused to be in breach of product description regulations. Its 'cold pack' cheese spread failed to contain the required 51% cheese after the recipe was changed to make the product easier to spread on bread and crackers. The product contained about 4% less cheese than the stipulated requirement.

The product packaging also failed to indicate that it contained vegetable oil, which was substituted for cream.

The company was charged with two felony counts of distributing adulterated and misbranded food, represented as cold-packed cheese food.

Prosecutors accused the company of trying to fool consumers. The company saved more than US$200,000 by substituting vegetable oil for cream and including less than the required amount of cheese ingredients, the government alleged.

The company, and its president and owner, Gary Youso, pleaded guilty to intentionally violating standards. The charges carry possible maximum fines of US$500,000 for the company and US$100,000 for Youso, who could also get up to one year in jail.

However, Youso appeared upbeat: "Old Fashioned Foods is glad to have this technical issue with the government resolved so that we can continue to focus on our product development, continued growth and expansion."