What is Carboxymethyl Cellulose Sodium

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, E 466, carboxymethyl cellulose, cellulose gum

English: Carboxymethyl cellulose
French: Cellulose de carboxymethyl
Italian: Carbossimetilcelullosa
Spanish: Carboximetilcelulosa

Table of Contents

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is a cellulose ether and is used as a food additive by the food industry as a carrier, thickener and coating agent. Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is available under the European approval number E 466 approved for food additives and can also be called carboxymethyl cellulose or Cellulose gum be declared on the list of ingredients of food. Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is a chemically or enzymatically modified derivative of cellulose.

Properties of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose

The properties of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose depend on the type of etherification and the strength of the etherification as well as on the molecular size of the sodium carboxymethyl cellulose. In contrast to cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose can be easily dissolved in water. The solubility and viscosity of the substance in liquids depends on the pH value and the temperature of the liquid. The viscosity is a measure of the viscosity of a liquid (fluids). Liquids bound with sodium carboxymethyl cellulose have a viscous consistency. Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose forms strong gels when heated and when combined with cellulose. The combination of these two additives can also prevent clumping and strengthen the effect of emulsifiers. E 466 is largely stable to heat, weak alkalis or acids and microorganisms. Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose has the ability to form fine films, which is why it is often used as a coating agent in the food industry. In addition, E 466 is able to form foams and is often used in energy-reduced foods.

Production of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose mainly obtained from linters. Linters are short cotton fibers that remain on the seeds when ginning and are removed when the lint is made, the raw cotton. The chemical structure of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose does not occur naturally, it has to be produced artificially. For this, the cotton cellulose is treated with chloroacetic acid and synthesized to sodium carboxymethyl cellulose. Genetically modified cotton can also be used to produce sodium carboxymethyl cellulose.

Labeling of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose must appear on the list of ingredients after the intended use (Thickener, Carrier or Coating agents) or with the E number (E 466), as Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, Carboxymethyl cellulose or as Cellulose gum be noted on the ingredients list. If sodium carboxymethyl cellulose comes from genetically modified cotton, this can be stated. In practice, however, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, which is made from genetically modified cotton, is not labeled as such. The legislation does not provide any clear guidelines at this point. This applies to all cellulose ethers. The starting product of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, cellulose, on the other hand, is subject to labeling if it was produced directly from genetically modified cotton.

Use of sodium carboxymethyl cellulose

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is generally approved as an additive for foodstuffs and, according to the principle quantum satis, i.e. in sufficient amount can be added. This means that there is no limit to the maximum amount for E 466, but only as much of the substance may be used in the production of food as is absolutely necessary for production. However, food that should remain untreated or that may not contain any additives due to legal regulations is excluded. Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is used in sweetener tablets, fish products, meat products, fruit preparations, fillings for cakes, products made from cream, nuts, ice cream, cream dishes, confectionery and desserts. In the food industry, E 466 is also used as a carrier for other food additives. The pharmaceutical industry uses sodium carboxymethyl cellulose to manufacture tablets.

Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose: Health Risks

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is considered safe for human health. An ADI value does not exist for this food additive. E 466 is not digested by the human organism and is excreted like dietary fiber. A high consumption of this additive can have a slight laxative effect.

Summary and brief information

  • Processed cheese preparation is made with sodium carboxymethyl cellulose
  • Artificial casing can be made with carboxymethyl cellulose


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