Is There Wood In Your Food?

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With food prices climbing more and more companies are using wood (cellulose) as filler in your food.  Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured. Powdered cellulose is made by cooking raw plant fiber—usually wood—in various chemicals to separate the cellulose, and then purified. Cellulose is a naturally occurring substance found in the walls of plants, basically it's wood pulp. 

What Food Is Wood In? 
Cellulose (wood pulp) is in a variety of products you would never guess anywhere from "maple" syrup to fast food, pudding, ice cream, frosting, barbecue sauce, mac and cheese, wheat thins, fruit parfaits, shredded cheese, etc.  For a full list of 15 companies that put wood in your food via The Street click here.

Why Do Companies Add Wood to Their Food Products?
They use it to stabilize and thicken foods, replace fat and increase fiber content, and decrease the need for ingredients like oil or flour, which are getting more expensive.  Cellulose products allow food manufactures to offer white bread with high fiber content, low-fat ice cream that still feels creamy, and allow cooks to sprinkle cheese over their dinner without taking time to shred it.

Is It Safe to Eat Wood?
The FDA believes it to be safe for human consumption and places no regulation on the amount that can be put into food products, but does set a limit on cheese spreads and jams, and only 3.5 % of meat being cellulose (wood).   My thoughts are that while it is at least a naturally occurring substance, I do see problems with having wood pulp in our food.

  1. Obviously wood is not what we were meant to eat and is nutritionally devoid (except for fiber). 
  2. Since food products have no limit (regulation) over what percentage of wood pulp is in it, we don't know how much of what we are eating is actually food.  This raises consumer issues as well as health.  Consumers are paying for something they think they are getting (actual food).  If someone is eating large amounts of products that use cellulose they could unknowingly have a large part of their diet consisting of no nutritional value. 
  3. The only good thing I can see in using cellulose is that it is at least a naturally occurring substance being used where unnatural additives would be otherwise.  I think it would not be too bad if only a small amount was allowed and only used in place of chemical additives.  My concern is considering the fact that there is no limit on the amount of wood pulp allowed in food and that it is cheaper to use wood pulp in place of food, we most likely will not get what I believe to be the reasonable amount of cellulose in our food products. 
What do you think?  Should we be concerned?

Sources
15 Companies That Serve You Food by The Street
Why Wood Pulp Makes Ice Cream Creamier by The Wall Street Journal

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2 comments:

  1. I don't like it.

    Food (real food) seems to be hard to find.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree Ma. The first step is awareness. If consumers stop buying food that isn't even really food (chemicals, gmo, wood) maybe they'll make food products that are actually food! What a crazy concept huh?

    ReplyDelete