Originally published October 4 2011
There's wood in my food? Wood-derived ingredients common in processed food
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) Lately there have been rumors about sawdust used as fiber filling in processed foods. Well, not quite sawdust. The cellulose used in many foods is processed powder or pulp from virgin wood. It's becoming more common. Though not toxic, what good is it?
Wood cellulose explainedSince the virgin wood pulps and powders are not toxic, the FDA says it's okay to use in food. The food industry and FDA classify wood cellulose as fiber. The only limit on wood cellulose fillers is 3.5% in meat. All other foods have no limits for adding wood cellulose.
Obviously, profit is the food industry's main focus. Up to 30% savings are realized by using cellulose over other ingredients. After all, food ingredients are rising in cost. And usually cellulose adds to the shelf life.
The products using cellulose range from junk food outlets, to supermarket shelf foods, and even one known organic food item. The food industry and cellulose manufacturers publicize the health virtues of cellulose fiber. They promote "lower fat" and "high fiber" with their cellulose added foods.
The irony is that in some cases this rings true. Using cellulose to replace some bleached white flour and trans-fatty processed oils could actually be of some health benefit to the SAD (Standard American Diet) consumer.
But the premise of low or no fat dairy products made creamier with cellulose is based on health disinformation to begin with. We need good fats, and the processed food industry is responsible for eliminating good fats (too expensive) and substituting cheap toxic fats.
Wood cellulose is not toxic. But it's not food either. Our enzymes cannot digest cellulose. Yes, we all need to take in fiber. Dry legumes, whole grains, and most fresh plant foods contain fiber. Freshly baked whole grain breads from a trusted bakery contain natural fibers too. These are fibers that are part of actual whole foods.
Relying on packaged foods may lead to your getting more nutrition from licking the wrapping then eating the food. So stick to fresh produce, bulk items for beans and grains, and a reliable bakery.
Cellulose labelsVirgin wood pulp is cooked and chemically processed into a powder to separate the cellulose from the pulp. Minimal processing allows the powder to be classified as organic and can be used in USDA organic packaged foods or labeled with "containing organic ingredients." More chemically modified cellulose is used in junk or SAD foods.
Cellulose in the ingredients list is a giveaway. Another term used for wood cellulose is microcrystalline cellulose(MCC). Cellulose gel and cellulose gum are other descriptions of wood cellulose. A more technical term of carboxymethyl cellulose could appear on an ingredient list as well.
Some products using wood celluloseOrganic Valley uses minimally modified cellulose powder in their shredded cheeses. Kraft uses cellulose in their shredded cheese also. This keeps the shreds of cheese from lumping together.
General Mills (GM) is a devoted woody. They use wood cellulose in Log Cabin syrup, Ice Cream Shake Mix, Smoothie Base (Mango, Strawberry, and Strawberry Banana) Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.
GM also uses cellulose in Fiber One Ready-to-Eat Muffins and their tortilla flour. Those items are used with Meaty Breakfast Burrito, Hearty Breakfast Bowl, and their fajita chicken and chicken salad products.
Kellogg's is another good woody. MorningStar chicken nuggets, patties, and veggie wings have their share of cellulose. So does Kellogg's family of Eggo waffles and Cinnabon pancakes and snack bars.
This was just a sampling. Read those labels. You may not be getting poisoned, but you're eating empty calories, albeit less.
Sources for this article include:
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