What is Microcrystalline Cellulose in Food? Uses, Safety, Side Effects

What is Microcrystalline Cellulose in Food? Uses, Safety, Side Effects


Table of Contents

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) or cellulose gel, E460(i) is a common additive used since it enhances the quality and taste of food. It can be added to a variety of products such as baked goods/ice cream, confectionery, canned fruits, cereal bars and infant foods. 

In each of these instances the purpose of MCC is to improve the quality by adding moisture and improving texture allowing for an improved mouth feel. Apart from its food functions MCC is also used in industrial applications that include tabletting of active ingredients, abrasives and particle boards. The versatility of this compound makes it one of the most commonly used additives in food of today.

What is microcrystalline cellulose?

Microcrystalline Cellulose Definition

Microcrystalline cellulose is a white powder made from the cellulose of wood pulp. It’s used as a filler, binder and tablet disintegrant (helper to break down into smaller pieces). It can be found in many common products such as vitamins, supplements and toothpaste.

Microcrystalline cellulose is a type of carbohydrate that’s found in plants and trees. Microcrystalline cellulose is used as an additive because it helps improve the texture and flow properties of tablets and capsules. It also helps prevent caking, which means that it keeps powders from clumping together when they’re exposed to humidity or moisture.

Microcrystalline cellulose is also sometimes called methylcellulose (MC), but this isn’t correct because MC doesn’t contain methyl groups — it’s just a different name for the same thing!



What is microcrystalline cellulose made from?

MCC is a sealant made of a blend of resins, oils and solvents that are designed to protect the rubber from degradation. The product is used on commercial vehicles such as school buses, transit buses, garbage trucks, fire trucks and many other commercial vehicles.

MCC is applied to the top surface of the tire in a thin layer. The thickness can vary from ¼ inch to 1½ inches depending on the vehicle type and manufacturer recommendations. Once applied, it will form a film over the rubber surface which will protect it from UV rays, ozone, heat and oxidation. MCC can also be used to repair damaged tires by sealing out moisture and preventing further degradation of the rubber.

MCC is a linear polymer composed of beta-D-glucopyranosyl units linked by glycosidic bonds (1,4).

How is microcrystalline cellulose made?

MCC has been made for many years, but it is still a relatively new material. It was first developed in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The process is an extension of papermaking technology, which has been around for thousands of years.

The papermaking process begins with wood pulp that has been treated to remove lignin (the substance that makes wood brown) and other impurities. The resulting cellulose fibers are then mixed with water to form a slurry (a suspension of fine particles in water). The slurry is spread onto a moving belt in layers that are allowed to dry as they move through a drying chamber. This forms sheets that are then cut into smaller pieces and packed into bags or boxes for shipping.

To make MCC, you start with cellulose instead of wood pulp and add chemicals such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), sodium chloride (NaCl), and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) to separate out the lignin from the cellulose fibers. The result is called alpha-cellulose, which consists mostly of long chains of cellulose molecules held together by hydrogen bonds between adjacent molecules.

The following is the microcrystalline cellulose production process:

Step 1: Alpha-cellulose production

MCC is produced by a process called alpha-cellulose production. The raw material used for this process is cotton lint, which is obtained from the cotton plant. Cotton lint is composed of fibers and a watery substance called pectin. The cotton lint must be dried before it can be further processed into MCC. During drying, heat and pressure are applied to remove the water content. This process can be performed using a variety of methods such as milling or pressing. The resulting product is called dried cotton linter (DCL).

Step 2: Hydrolysis

The next step in making MCC involves breaking down DCL into its constituent parts, which are cellulose molecules and pectin molecules. This is done through hydrolysis, which involves treating DCL with chemicals in order to break down these molecules into smaller components known as monomers or monomeric pieces (MP). These MP are then subjected to further chemical treatments that will allow for their separation into individual monomers or groups of monomers in order to obtain pure cellulose fibers which can then be processed into MCC products such as nonwovens.



Crystalline powder that is fine, white or almost white, odourless, and free flowing.

Particle Size


No smaller than 5 μm (not more than 10% of particles below 5 μm)


In water

It is insoluble in water, but swells in water, dilute alkalis, acids, and most organic solvents. Practically insoluble or not soluble in sodium hydroxide solutions (concentration: 50 g NaOH/L)

At a concentration below 1%, it forms colloidal solutions, and at a concentration of more than 1%, thixotropic gels are formed.

In organic


Ethanol, ether, and dilute mineral acids are insoluble.

Other names Cellulose, microcrystalline
CAS number 9004-34-6 or 977005-28-9
Chemical formula (C6H10O5)n
Molecular weight About 36,000
Melting Point 260–270 °C

What is the application of microcrystalline cellulose?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a kind of white powder that is obtained from plant cellulose as raw material by chemical or physical means. It has good solubility in water and is widely used in food, medicine and other industries.


Food grade MCC is typically combined with CMC, or methylcellulose. In addition, it is combined with starch to enhance thickening.
See what its benefits and functions are in food categories.


Microcrystalline cellulose is widely used in the formulation of various beverages such as coffee, tea, carbonated drinks and fruit juices. It is used as a stabilizer in ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming during storage. It is also used to improve mouthfeel and reduce bitterness of coffee. The use of microcrystalline cellulose in food and beverage industry has been increasing over the years due to its ability to impart many benefits such as improved shelf life, enhanced taste, texture and appearance.


Cellulose is used in bakery goods such as cakes, brownies and cookies because it helps maintain moisture content of these products. Cellulose is also used as a stabilizer in ice cream and whipped toppings to prevent syneresis – the separation of water from the product caused by freezing or whipping. It prevents sugar from crystallization during storage by absorbing excess water in the product before it freezes. These properties make cellulose an important ingredient for bakeries producing frozen snacks (popsicles), frozen desserts (ice cream), frozen breads (bagels), etc.


In milk products such as cheese, curd or yogurt, MCC plays an important role in improving the rheological properties, increasing viscosity and reducing syneresis loss during processing. In addition, it can also reduce fat absorption during digestion. Therefore, it is widely used in dairy products such as yogurt drinks (yogurt drinks), dairy drinks (dairy drinks), cream cheese (cream cheese), etc..


It is a kind of food additive that can be used in various dishes to improve the taste and texture of food, as well as its nutritional value. It can improve the smoothness, elasticity and stability of food products during cooking or storage. It has no side effects on human health. It can also be used in medicine to reduce the risk of drug overdosage or poisoning.

Fried and Processed Food

It can be used as a thickener to thicken sauces such as ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressing and sauce for burgers or sausages etc.. It can also be added directly into high-fat foods such as butter, margarine or oil so that they become less greasy when fried or baked at high temperatures (60 – 80 °C). The main function of this product is to prevent oil from splashing out when frying foods such as French fries or potato chips by absorbing water molecules from the surface of these products when frying them at low temperatures (30 – 50 °C)


MCC is often used as a filler to make tablets. The tablets are then coated with film-forming agents like hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) or ethylcellulose to prevent them from sticking together.


Cosmetic companies use MCC as an ingredient for their hair products such as shampoo and conditioner because of its consistency-enhancing properties. MCC can help reduce brittleness by maintaining moisture balance in the hair shafts while also providing volume and fullness without weighing down your hair style. In addition to improving consistency of a given product, MCC also has humectant properties that are good at drawing water into the skin cells.


MCC can be used as an excipient in tablets, capsules, and other medications. In some cases, it’s used to increase the absorption rate of certain drugs.

Is microcrystalline cellulose safe to eat?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a type of dietary fiber that has been used in food products for many years. It is often used as a bulking agent, thickening agent and anti-caking agent in food products such as sugar free gum, candy, chocolate and other foods that need to be kept dry.

Microcrystalline cellulose is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA. In fact, it is one of the most widely used food additives in the world.

The safety of consuming microcrystalline cellulose has already been established by numerous scientific studies conducted by companies that produce this substance.


FDA claims that MCC can be used in foods as anticaking agent or free-flow agent, drying agent, flavor enhancer, flavoring agent or adjuvant, formulation aid, humectant, stabilizer, or thickener.
As a result, it is not listed in 21CFR as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe).


Listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive, MCC E 460(i) is classified as “additives other than colours and sweeteners”.

Safety re-evaluation in 2017

The EFSA concluded in 2017, after studying short-term and long-term toxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and other research, that “there was no need for a numerical ADI and that there would be no safety concern at the reported levels and uses for E460(i).”

Authorised Uses and Use Levels

The approved application is listed separately in Group I as well as in E460 and E 460(i). In almost all authorized food categories, quantum satis is used.

Please see the application of sodium CMC for Group I.

These foods may contain E460(i) and E460(i) separately and may contain both:

  • Sweeteners in tablet and liquid forms for tabletop use
  • Herbs and spices
  • Cream substitutes and unflavoured live fermented cream products

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

The ingredient is an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand with the code number 460.


Function Class: food additives, anticaking, emulsifier and stabilizer.

Acceptable Daily Intake: The ADI “not specified” was set in 1997.

What is microcrystalline cellulose side effects?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a type of fiber that is extracted from plant material. It is used as an additive in many foods and drugs to increase viscosity, improve texture and stability, or serve as a bulking agent.

Microcrystalline cellulose can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, including skin rash and itching, swelling of the tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives and facial swelling. Large amounts of this ingredient may cause diarrhea or constipation, stomach pain and nausea.


Microcrystalline cellulose may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to other types of cellulose. Fortunately, allergic reactions to microcrystalline cellulose are uncommon. However, if you have an allergy to any form of cellulose, it’s best to avoid foods containing microcrystalline cellulose.

Large amounts Side Effect

If you consume large amounts of microcrystalline cellulose over time, it can cause gastrointestinal distress like constipation and diarrhea. This is because it absorbs water from the intestinal tract and expands in size when exposed to moisture, creating large stools that may be difficult to pass through the digestive tract.

Is microcrystalline cellulose safe for pregnant?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a dietary fiber. It is not digested by human body and has no calories. It is used to improve the texture of food, as a thickening agent and as a binding ingredient in processed foods. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it to be safe for use in food products.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has found that microcrystalline cellulose does not cause cancer in laboratory animals when ingested at high doses for long periods of time. However, since this additive may be made from wood pulp, there is some concern about its possible link to allergies and other adverse reactions in humans.

There are no known dangers associated with consuming microcrystalline cellulose during pregnancy or breastfeeding if your doctor has not advised against it.

Where does microcrystalline cellulose come from?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a form of cellulose that has been crystallized, or partially crystallized. It is typically made from wood pulp, although it can also be made from cotton fibers or bagasse.

Microcrystalline cellulose is used as a filler or binding agent in many foods and beverages, as well as in personal care products.

There are several different methods used to create microcrystalline cellulose, but all have the same goal: making tiny crystals that are small enough to dissolve in water. The primary ingredients used in the creation of microcrystalline cellulose are wood pulp and water. In some cases, additional ingredients such as sodium hydroxide (also known as lye) may be added to speed up the process.

Once the wood pulp has been soaked in water for several days, it is then filtered and heated until it turns into a thick slurry that’s then spread onto flat trays to dry. This creates a layer of wet crystals that must be separated from each other before they can be dehydrated further and ground into powder form.

What does microcrystalline cellulose do to the body?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a plant-based compound and an alternative to animal gelatin. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer and filler in foods. The recommended daily intake of this substance is between 15 and 25 grams per day.

The effect of microcrystalline cellulose on the body is that it can help you lose weight and improve digestion. This substance also helps you to absorb nutrients from food more easily which means that your body will get more vitamins and minerals from each meal.

This substance can also reduce cholesterol levels in the blood by removing excess cholesterol from the body through the digestive tract. It also prevents heart attacks by preventing blood clots from forming in your arteries.

How to make microcrystalline cellulose?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a cellulose used as a food additive, as a bulking agent and disintegrant in tablets. It is also used as an excipient in many other pharmaceuticals.

Microcrystalline cellulose is a modified form of cellulose that has been treated with chemicals to increase its viscosity and surface area. This treatment breaks the hydrogen bonds between the chains of glucose molecules, which causes them to separate out and form a network that imparts greater rigidity to the material.

The process of making microcrystalline cellulose involves dissolving it in water and then treating it with a chemical called sodium hydroxide. This causes the crystalline structure of the material to break down into smaller particles that have greater surface area, resulting in increased viscosity.

The process can be reversed by using hydrochloric acid or sodium carbonate solution instead of alkali solution.

What is microcrystalline cellulose used for in tablets?

Microcrystalline Cellulose (MCC) is a natural, non-soluble dietary fiber that is used as a binder, filler and disintegrant in tablets and capsules. MCC is made from purified cellulose fibers and has a variety of uses in pharmaceuticals, including the production of pills and tablets.

Microcrystalline Cellulose Is Used in Tablets to:

Bind Ingredients Together

MCC is primarily used as an ingredient in tablets and capsules to bind ingredients together. As a binding agent, MCC helps keep ingredients together during the manufacturing process and after ingestion. It also prevents ingredients from settling out or caking during storage. Some common uses for MCC in this manner include:

Disintegration Agent

MCC plays an important role in dissolving tablets into their components so they can be absorbed by the body. This property makes it useful as a disintegration agent in oral medications such as aspirin or antibiotics. An optimal disintegration time for a tablet or capsule ranges from 10 to 40 seconds, depending on dosage form size and strength of medication being taken.

What is microcrystalline cellulose in vitamins?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a cellulose-based powder that is used as an anti-caking agent, stabilizer and filler in food products. It is also used as a disintegrant in tablets and capsules, which help speed up their disintegration in the stomach.

Microcrystalline Cellulose is used in many different types of vitamin supplements. It can be found in vitamin C tablets, calcium supplements, and multivitamins.

Signs of Microcrystalline Cellulose

Microcrystalline cellulose has no color or smell and dissolves easily in water. If you suspect your supplement contains microcrystalline cellulose, look for the following signs:

  • Dissolves easily in water
  • No odor or color

What is microcrystalline cellulose in supplements?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a natural food ingredient derived from wood pulp. It is used in dietary supplements as a filler and bulking agent.

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) is a non-digestible, highly absorbable form of fiber that has many health benefits.

MCC’s unique structure makes it more resistant to digestive enzymes than other types of fiber, which means it can pass through the digestive tract without being digested. It also absorbs water in the gut and forms a gel-like mass that slows down digestion and absorption of nutrients. This helps maintain blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates and lowering insulin levels after eating meals high in carbohydrates.

MCC may also improve digestion by preventing constipation and diarrhea, as well as reducing cholesterol levels when taken daily for 2-3 months or longer.

Is microcrystalline cellulose harmful?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a white, tasteless powder that is made from the cellulose found in plants. It is used as an excipient in many pharmaceutical products and foods to increase viscosity and improve texture. It is commonly used in tablets, capsules and other solid dosage forms.

Microcrystalline cellulose is not harmful when taken as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist. If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your medical professional or pharmacist before taking this medication.

Where to buy microcrystalline cellulose?

Here are some places where you can buy microcrystalline cellulose:

Amazon – This e-commerce site sells many different types of pharmaceutical products, including microcrystalline cellulose. You can find a variety of sizes and types of this product on the website for low prices. Each size comes with free shipping if your order is over $25. If you don’t need much product, Amazon offers smaller quantities for less money than other retailers offer larger quantities for.

Drugstore – Many drugstores carry this product in their pharmacy departments or online catalogs. They usually sell one pound bags that are packaged by weight so there may not be any more than one pound in each bag.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is microcrystalline cellulose natural?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in plant and animal products. It is a tasteless, odorless and colorless powder that is used in food and pharmaceutical products. It acts as an emulsifier, thickener, stabilizer and texturizer for foods.

Is microcrystalline cellulose halal?

Microcrystalline cellulose is considered halal by many Muslims because it is made from plant matter found in nature. It does not contain any animal products or alcohol, which makes it acceptable for consumption by Muslims who follow the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Is microcrystalline cellulose kosher?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a non-GMO, Kosher and Halal dietary fiber that is used as an ingredient in many food products. It’s also known as mcc, cellulose gum and Avicel.

Is microcrystalline cellulose gluten free?

Is microcrystalline cellulose gluten free? Yes it is. Microcrystalline cellulose is a food additive, which is used as a thickener, stabilizer or filler in foods, drugs and cosmetics. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it can be derived from wood pulp, cotton linters (a byproduct of cotton), bamboo, or other plant sources.

Is microcrystalline cellulose vegan?

Microcrystalline cellulose is a vegan-friendly ingredient that is used as a thickener and stabilizer in many foods and beauty products. It is also known as MCC, spray-dried cellulose, and powdered cellulose. MCC is made from wood pulp (which is not animal based) that has been chemically treated to make it water soluble. The resulting product is white or off-white in color, tasteless and odorless.

Is microcrystalline cellulose a polymer?

No, microcrystalline cellulose is not a polymer. Microcrystalline cellulose is a polysaccharide, or long chain of monosaccharides (simple sugars) with hydrogen and oxygen atoms that form bonds between the individual monosaccharides. Polymers are macromolecules made up of many smaller units called monomers.

What is silicified microcrystalline cellulose?

Silicified microcrystalline cellulose (SMCC) is a high purity, non-toxic, white powder that has many applications in the pharmaceutical industry. It is primarily used for coating granules and tablets to improve their dissolution time and bioavailability. It can also be used as an excipient in capsule preparations to improve their disintegration time.

Can microcrystalline cellulosebe made from corn?

Yes, it can. Microcrystalline cellulose is a plant-based material that can be made from corn. This material is used in many different applications, including as an emulsifier to prevent the separation of oil and water in foods such as salad dressings and mayonnaise.

How to use microcrystalline cellulose?

 Microcrystalline cellulose is a versatile substance that has many different uses. It is used in foods and supplements, cosmetics, and even in some medications.

Here are some tips for using microcrystalline cellulose:

1. Make sure you are using the right kind of microcrystalline cellulose. You can find this information on the package of your product or by looking up the ingredients online.

2. If you are putting it in food or drink, make sure that you mix it in thoroughly so that the texture will not be affected by chunks of the material left behind after eating or drinking. This can be achieved by stirring with a spoon or blending with an electric mixer in order to incorporate all of the material throughout your entire dish/drink before consuming it.

3. If you are using this material as an ingredient in medicine or other products, simply follow any instructions that come with those items to ensure maximum effectiveness while using them safely every time!


In conclusion, microcrystalline cellulose is generally recognized as safe. It is used in a wide range of products to improve quality as well as clarity. For example, it’s often used to stabilize food coloring and preserve the flavor of ice cream. In general, it’s a very useful additive that doesn’t pose any biological risks to people or animals. While there aren’t really any significant side effects associated with using this additive, it’s always wise to check the label for hidden ingredients.

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng

Sophie Feng is the author of gradechemical.com, she is the co-founder of the grade chemical network. She has been in grade chemical company since 2017, with a working knowledge of food chemical .

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