What is Carboxy methyl Cellulose (CMC) – Its Use in Food, Advantages, Side Effects FDA Approval

What is Carboxy methyl Cellulose (CMC)?

Cellulose is the carbohydrate that makes up the woody parts and cell walls of plants.Carboxy Methyl Cellulose is a thickener, binder and stabilizer in a variety of foods to make food thick and creamy without the fatty substance present in it. It is transparent and stable colloidal dissolved in the water, and can stabilize the protein.CMC is used in food under the E number E466.

Synonyms:Cellulose Gum, Sodium Salt, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, CMC.

Preparation of CMC 

Alpha-cellulose extracted from corn husks was used as the raw material for the production of food-grade carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC). Preparation of CMC from husk cellulose was carried out by an etherification process, using sodium hydroxide and monochloroacetic acid (MCA), with ethanol as the supporting medium. (NCBI)

CMC is a thickening agent produced by partial substitution of cellulose hydroxyl groups with ionic hydrophilic moieties.

Uses of CMC:

  • CMC is used by food industries because of its thickening and emulsifying effect.
  • CMC also acts as a stabilizer in many beverages containing fat.
  • It is used by bakery industry as volume expanders.
  • It is used to bake food to maintain the shape and appearance of the goods.
  • It is used in the manufacturing of biscuits as it prevents water evaporation and aging of the product as it has water holding capacity (humectant).
  • It is also used to make jellies, jam as CMC possess good gelation effect.
  • It improves physical property of food.
  • It is used as foam stabilizer in beer.
  • It is used by ice cream manufacturers.

Food containing CMC:

Ice cream, dressing, cheese, icing, toppings, gelatinous desserts, infant/baby formula, candy, cottage cheese, cream cheese spread

Advantages of CMC:

  • CMC has a good water holding capacity.
  • It has good suspending ability and can be used as pharmaceutical ingredient also.
  • It possesses good gel stabilizing effect.
  • It prevents crystallization of product.
  • It is used to improve the texture and appearance of food products.

Disadvantages of CMC:

  • Carboxy Methyl Cellulose is poorly absorbed by the body and can result in flatulence.
  • It can cause bloating.

Side effects of CMC:

Intake of large amount of CMC can cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

FDA approval:Carboxy Methyl Cellulose is generally regarded as safe by FDA and Food Chemicals Pharmacopoeia to be used in food products as food additive and other pharmaceutical products as it is a good disintegrating agent.

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