Accepting Food Labels? Food & Nutrition

Label Logic: Cellulose Gum

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Joann Klinkner
Written by Joann Klinkner

Cellulose gum is generally used in food as a thickening, emulsifying, and stabilizing agent. Due to its high viscosity, or thickness, cellulose gum is also found in products like toothpaste, laundry detergent (it works as a suspension liquid to remove stains from natural fabrics), water-based paints, diet pills, and laxatives. It can also be found as a lubricating element in eye drops (artificial tears).


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Cellulose Gum is what we are focusing this time around. Label Logic by Joann DiFabio-Klinkner is all about awareness of what is in the food you eat. How does this tie in to the Identity mission? Joann educates us in everyday language on ingredients so we can easily remember what is harmful to our bodies and what is good for our bodies. What we eat can, in the short term, affect our mood and our energy, and in the longer term can have a major affect on our health. That’s why it’s an important part of helping you to Feel Beautiful Everyday!™


Cellulose gum seems easy enough to pronounce. And typically the things in foods that are bad for you are hard to pronounce, right? Cellulose gum is also known as Carboxymethyl cellulose. Try saying that three times fast, and then ask yourself how safe it really is for you! 


Cellulose gum is generally used in food as a thickening, emulsifying, and stabilizing agent. Due to its high viscosity, or thickness, cellulose gum is also found in products like toothpaste, laundry detergent (it works as a suspension liquid to remove stains from natural fabrics), water-based paints, diet pills, and laxatives. It can also be found as a lubricating element in eye drops (artificial tears).


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Cellulose gum is a polymer derived from cellulose. Cellulose is the main compound that makes up the outer wall of green plant cells. It is one of the most common organic compounds on Earth. Cellulose gum is synthesized through an alkalai-stimulated reaction between cellulose and chloroacetic acid. Confusing, right? Simply put, cellulose and chloroacetic acid (which is a result of the chlorinization of acetic acid) react with each other to form cellulose gum when alkali (a salt) is used as a catalyst. Nobody ever said chemistry was easy! 


Cellulose gum has an E number of E466.  E numbers are basically a food additive safety measuring scale used in the EU (European Union). Every food additive is assigned an E number. The European Food Safety Authority then deems them as N/A (permitted food additions), unpermitted (inconclusive test data to prove any harm), dangerous (may be harmful for people with diseases), and forbidden (proven beyond a doubt to cause disease). Cellulose gum is classified as N/A, meaning it is approved for use as a food additive.

There isn’t any conclusive evidence out there that proves cellulose gum is particularly harmful for us. It’s always best to consume foods with the most natural ingredients that are not the result of chemical reactions, but if you see cellulose gum on a particularly healthy nutrition label, don’t shy away from it by any means. It is technically considered a food additive, but not on a dangerous scale.

 

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About the author

Joann Klinkner

Joann Klinkner

Identity writer Joann DiFabio-Klinkner holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ramapo College in Communication Arts and is currently employed at Torre Lazur McCann, a pharmaceutical advertising agency, where she is a digital imaging associate. Having a long-standing interest in health and wellness, Joann has developed a passion for and deep knowledge-base of food and nutrition over the years. She currently writes the Spotlight On… and Label Logic articles for Identity, and enjoys cooking in her free time.

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