Cheese was once colored bright orange to falsely imply it had lots of yellow/orange pigmented cream in it, a sign of quality several centuries ago. The cream had been skimmed, for sale elsewhere, so the cheese mongers colored the cheese.
Greed is all natural, right?
Cheese expert Paul Kindstedt of the University of Vermont explains that back in the 17th century, many English cheesemakers realized that they could make more money if they skimmed off the cream — to sell it separately or make butter from it.
But in doing so, most of the color was lost, since the natural orange pigment is carried in the fatty cream.
So, to pass off what was left over — basically low-fat cheese made from white milk — as a high-quality product, the cheesemakers faked it.
"The cheesemakers were initially trying to trick people to mask the white color [of their cheese]," explains Kindstedt.