Cellulose is food fashionable

Published 6 December 2016 by Sirpa Välimaa
On TV, it seems there are more food reality programs than ever. Actually, any media that you look at these days is filled with advice about what to eat and not to eat, what the correct carbohydrate and protein intake is. It is somewhat of a dilemma, if you are trying to join family and friends around the table and enjoy a pleasant meal!

The food industry introduces around 20 000 new products every year, and a significant number of consumer trends are directly connected with food. Among those trends, the top ones globally are – local and sustainable products, natural origin and GMO, purity, protein and cooking together at home. And if you categorise the top hundred trends, almost half of them are connected with health, 40% with sensory items and 10% with convenience.

What does all this have to do with trees? The answer: cellulose.

Food additives can help to maintain and improve the safety of the food, nutritional value, taste, texture and appearance of food. The additives are divided into 18 different groups according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Did you know?

  • Cellulose gel, for example, is used as a fat replacer and brings a creamy feel to low-fat foods.
  • Methyl cellulose (MC) is used in food as an emulsifier and thickener, and you can find it in ice creams. It is also occasionally added to hair shampoos, tooth pastes and liquid soaps, to give a thick consistency.
  • Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) is used as a texturizer, an anti-caking agent, a fat substitute, an emulsifier, an extender, and a bulking agent in food production. The most common form of MCC is used in vitamin supplements or tablets.
  • Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is used in food as a viscosity modifier or thickener, and to stabilise emulsions in various products including ice cream. It is used primarily because it has high viscosity, is non-toxic, and generally considered to be hypoallergenic as the major source fibre is either softwood pulp or cotton linter. CMC is used extensively in gluten-free and reduced fat food products. It is also a constituent of many non-food products, such as toothpaste, laxatives, diet pills, water-based paints, detergents, textile sizing, laundry detergents, and even as a lubricant in artificial tears.

So enjoy some daily cellulosics!


Sirpa Välimaa

Sirpa Välimaa

Product Manager, Dissolving Pulp at Stora Enso

Sirpa Välimaa has worked for more than ten years in the pulp and paper industry focusing on product development and customer service as well as new product launches and market assessment. Her product expertise reaches from traditional paper applications to the applications of regenerated cellulose like textiles, sponges, cellophane and casings. She is enthusiastic about the future opportunities of cellulose in fashion, and has been honoured to wear a dress made out of Stora Enso textile pulp.