Humectants in foods: powdered cellulose

Humectants such as our powdered cellulose JELUCEL® are used in the food industry to optimise and stabilise product properties. Intermediate moisture foods remain fresh for longer and are preserved.

How do humectants work?

Humectants are hygroscopic substances. They bind the moisture that is contained in the food and, in addition, absorb moisture from the air. Their hygroscopic property prevents foods from drying out and stops the sugar contained in confectionery from crystallising. Thus, they have a moisture control effect.

Powdered cellulose as humectant in bakery

Product shelf life is extended

The shelf life of intermediate moisture foods is limited because of fungal and bacterial growth. Bacterial growth is influenced by the water activity of the food. Water activity is a measure of the free water within the food. The higher the amount of free water in the food, the higher the water activity and thus microbial growth. Water activity has an influence on the physical and sensory properties and accelerates chemical changes that make the foodstuff unfit for consumption.

Microbial degradation can be reduced by either drying the food or adding humectants. Drying reduces both water content and water activity. When a humectant like JELUCEL® is added, the amount of free water decreases, but the water content remains the same. JELUCEL® can absorb up to 700% of its own weight in water. In doing so, the cellulose doesn’t extract water from the product, it rather binds it within the product. As a consequence, intermediate moisture foods remain fresh for longer and have an extended shelf life when JELUCEL® is added.

Natural powdered cellulose as a humectant

JELUCEL® is pure powdered cellulose, which can be used in bakery, confectionery and processed meat and fish products. The natural cellulose improves product quality, regulates the moisture content and extends shelf life. As a food additive, powdered cellulose is labelled E 460ii.

Applications and benefits

Using our powdered cellulose, bread and baked goods remain fresh for longer, confectionery such as chewing gum, chocolates and cookies doesn’t dry out so quickly and meat and fish products have a longer shelf life. JELUCEL® can also be used in bakery fillings. The cellulose binds the free water contained in the filling and prevents the moisture of the filling from migrating into other layers of the product.

Advantages at a glance

  • Shelf life is extended
  • Stability and viscosity are improved
  • Texture is maintained
  • Growth of microorganisms is slowed down

Why powdered cellulose?

JELUCEL® powdered cellulose has product properties that are ideal for use in food technology:

  • Chemically inert
  • Tasteless
  • Neutral in colour
  • Odourless
  • High water binding capacity
  • Available as powder or fibre
  • Made from vegetable raw materials

Further applications

JELUCEL® is very versatile. In food technology, our powdered cellulose assumes diverse functions and can be used as:

Our products

Due to its product properties, our JELUCEL® cellulose can be used in a very versatile manner in the food industry. For information on the different applications, see our application pages. JELUCEL® is available in the following 4 grades:

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