Cellulose is a natural polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) found in all plants. Modified cellulose is cellulose that has been chemically combined with other substances to enhance its properties. Modified cellulose is a dream product for food manufacturers. Its addition to processed foods ensures uniform texture, and consistency of the product's qualities at many different temperatures and pH levels. It will even ensure that frozen products are delivered from freezing unaltered when thawed. Cellulose is capable of emulsifying, that is, preventing the separation of oils and other ingredients that would not normally mix. It also prevents powders from caking, stabilizes foam consistency, and makes frostings and toppings opaque for visual appeal. Cellulose keeps shredded cheese from sticking together, and is used as a coating to prevent oil absorption during deep frying.
Another area where cellulose is useful to food manufacturers is in adding bulk. Cellulose is used as a filler to increase the volume and mass of a product while reducing the use of more expensive items like flour, sugar or fat. As an added advantage, cellulose is not digested, so it does not add any calories to food. In fact, cellulose also has the ability to hold moisture, so it is used as a fat replacement; for example, it is added to prepared, diet meat products to make them juicy without fat content.
Modified cellulose may be any of the following products: ethyl cellulose, ethyl hydroxyethyl cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose (also called hypromellose), methyl cellulose, methyl ethyl cellulose, carboxyemthyl cellulose(CMC), sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, or cross-linked sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (also called croscarmellose sodium), cellulose gum, or cellulose gel. All of these are used for the same purposes in food manufacturing, although each varies slightly in its action. It is the art of the food chemist to combine them and arrive at the desired qualities in processed food.
Other Use and Industries
Modified celluloses have several applications in science laboratories and in construction materials. Modified cellulose is even used as an implant to address dry eyes, as well as being an ingredient in artificial tears. Modified cellulose is also sold as a supplemental source of fiber.
Cellulose is a natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate), which is indigestible. It passes right through our system. There are claims that taking cellulose can cleanse the colon, but the actual effects of taking it are unverified. Some claim that consuming cellulose can aid in weight loss, because it absorbs moisture and expands, giving a feeling of being “full”. This claim is also unproven.
Cellulose is a natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate), which is commonly obtained from wood or cotton, but may also come from bamboo or other plant matter. The wood or plant matter is crushed and treated with hot water and specialized chemicals or enzymes to break it down, allowing the cellulose to be isolated. Modified cellulose is produced by chemically combining cellulose with other compounds, altering its molecular structure.