Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"What the Heck is it" WEDNESDAY

This sandwich bread looks innocent enough, doesn't it? But there it is, lurking in the fine print: 


Folks, it's difficult to escape this odd-sounding ingredient. You'll find cellulose in its many forms-- like "powder" and "gum"--in an astonishing range of products: toothpaste, yogurt, bread, ice cream, frosting, makeup, hair and bath items and shredded cheese, to name a few. And get this--cellulose is found even in organic foods! For example, Organic Valley adds powdered cellulose to its shredded cheese products. (However, note that products labeled as "organic" can utilize only cellulose powder, which is its least manipulated form.) 

So, what the heck is it, you ask? Simply stated, cellulose is derived from the cell walls of woody plants and cotton. The plant cells are broken down with acetic acid to form a viscose gum that's used as an emulsifier. 

Next question: should we avoid it? Along with the FDA,  the EU (European Union) also permits cellulose as a food additive. That leads to yet another question: is it really that bad? 

Actually avoiding it may be easier said than done, as you've probably figured out by now. 

Here are some factors to consider in order to make an informed choice:

- Cellulose is listed by Reader's Digest as one of their "27 foods to you should never buy again." They liken ingesting cellulose to "eating wood pulp."

- Even though cellulose has fiber, it can't be digested and passes through the digestive tract. So, nutrition labels of cellulose-containing products can be misleading as they include it within the dietary fiber count. 

- Chemical are used to break cellulose down into gum. How safe are they?

Here is a link (yep, sure is a long one!) to a very good Wall Street Journal article about cellulose:

Cellulose fiber is an ingredient in the sandwich thins pictured above that my hubby is so fond of. I'll be scoping around for a "cleaner" alternative that he'll (hopefully) deign to eat. Wish me luck!



Fbid Staff said...

It can be so discouraging shopping the supermarket. It can really make a person paranoid and defeated. How the heck are we supposed to avoid all this crazy stuff and how are we supposed to get our loved ones to eat real food???

I'm gonna check my bread right now!@

Lisa said...

Look for Alvarado Street Bakery's sprouted grain bread. For some odd reason, ShopRite puts it in a frozen case by the shelved bread/rolls in the bakery section. Why it's not in the frozen case with the rest of the "natural" food I will never understand!!