Wood pulp in Cheese and Ice Cream?


Have you ever wondered why shredded cheese doesn’t clump together in the bag or looked at the list of ingredients on the back of the package?

Powdered cellulose made from wood pulp is being used more and more in the food industry because it is so cheap. It is used to replace fat, boost fiber content and make low fat ice cream that still has a creamy taste.

More and more manufacturers are using powdered cellulose, which is teeny pieces of wood pulp or other plant fibers, to coat the cheese and prevent it from clumping together by absorbing any moisture in the bag.

Kraft Foods Inc. uses forms of cellulose made from wood pulp and cotton in products including shredded cheese and salad dressing. “Cellulose has unique properties making it the best choice to perform certain functions, such as anticaking, thickening and replacing fat,” says spokeswoman Susan Davison” - source

 But, you might think that trees are natural, so why would it matter that they are using cellulose in our food?

The disturbing part is that the powdered cellulose used is made by cooking raw plant fiber in various chemicals to extract the cellulose. And, there are modified versions of cellulose that are processed further using acid to break down the fiber even more.

Is there cellulose in organic brands?

According to the article even a popular organic brand uses cellulose to prevent their cheese from clumping.

Organic Valley uses powdered cellulose made from wood pulp in its shredded-cheese products. The company would prefer not to use a synthetic ingredient, but cellulose is bland, white and repels moisture, making it the favored choice over products such as potato starch, says Tripp Hughes, director of product marketing for Organic Valley.”   -source

How can you avoid it?

The FDA says it is OK, so that makes it totally fine, right? Just like aspartame and other things that we used to think were safe.

To me, it is a reminder to get back to the basics. Buy foods with an ingredient list that you can actually understand and know what each ingredient is. Or even better, buy whole foods. Also, avoid buying reduced fat versions of products. When the fat is removed it has to be replaced with something. There are lots of healthy fats that are certainly better for you than their questionable chemically created substitutions.

We really don’t know if powdered cellulose is harmful or benign. But, why eat cheese that is coated in chemically treated wood pulp when you can simply buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself? That is a definite money saver!

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