Mitsubishi brings new cellulose fiber to US market

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cellulose, Bread

A water soluble cellulose fiber new to the US market claims to
provide moisture management, reduced oil uptake and improved
coating adhesion in a range of food products, including baked
goods, extruded items and dairy products.

Manufactured by Japanese giant Shin-Etsu and distributed in the US by Mitsubishi International Food Ingredients, Metolose also claims to cut costs through more efficient and improved product formulation.

The product has until now been available in Europe and Asia, but is only in its first few months on the US market, according to Mitsubishi, which was featuring the ingredient at the World Grains Summit in San Francisco earlier this week.

A methylcellulose, Metolose is derived from wood pulp, and is marketed for its reversible thermal gelation - meaning that it forms a gel when heated but goes back to a liquid state when it cools.

According to Mitsubishi's product manager Mike Fortescue, this property is especially beneficial for filled dough products, such as buns with cream filling, or Chinese steamed buns. The ingredient allows manufacturers to achieve a heat stable filling by preventing it from seeping out of the dough or losing water when heated, while also allowing the product to retain the required texture and mouthfeel when it cools.

In fried foods, Metolose claims to reduce oil absorption, increase water retention and improve freeze - thaw stability. In extruded goods the ingredient works as a binder to keep pieces together, and also allows reformed foods, such as shaped potato products, to hold their form.

According to Mitsubishi, the ingredient's binding properties and its ability to hold moisture mean that it can also be used in gluten free breads to replace gluten. Formulating baked products without gluten for consumers intolerant to the component presents a number of challenges to manufacturers, including a hard texture and a reduced volume. This is something Metolose claims to be able to overcome, by bringing visco-elasticity to the dough.

Other uses for the ingredient include improving the texture and process of noodles by improving the water retentiveness of dough, as well as preventing dough deformation as a result of a lack of moisture.

As a stabilizer, for example in custard cream, the ingredient claims to deliver a softer and creamier product by reducing surface and interfacial tensions and by thickening the liquid phase.

According to the company, the major food markets for this product include reformed products, such as potato, cheese and meat products, as well as processed products such as savory and sweet pies. It can also be used in batters and crumb coatings, baked products, and ice creams and dairy goods.

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