Home » What is that powder on shredded cheese, and is it bad for you? A dietitian explains

What is that powder on shredded cheese, and is it bad for you? A dietitian explains

by UNN Feed

A recent smattering of viral videos across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are telling people to avoid eating packaged, preshredded cheeses, claiming that the powdered substance they’re covered in to prevent clumping is actually “wood shavings,” “bark” or “saw dust.”

In the comments sections of such videos, many viewers have shared their alarm at the claims, even saying that they’ll no longer buy shredded cheese. But what to dietitians think?

“These kinds of videos stir up fear in viewers who are already skeptical about our food system and aren’t sure who to trust,” registered dietitian Kristina Cooke tells TODAY.com. “When information is not coming from a scientifically sound and credible source, it’s almost like playing a game of telephone that gets out of hand.”

The most important thing to know about the claims is that both preshredded and block cheeses are healthy and safe to eat, experts say. Read on to learn more about the substance found on shredded cheese, known as powdered cellulose, and its uses.

What is the powdered substance on shredded cheese?

The powdery or finely grained substance that coats pieces of packaged, shredded cheese is an organic structural compound called cellulose (sometimes labeled as cellulose gum, carboxymethyl cellulose, or microcrystalline cellulose). As a food additive, it prevents the cheese from clumping together in packaging.

“It’s also used in some products as a calorie reducer, an anti-caking agent, a thickener, and to add texture,” Caroline Susie, a registered dietician and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells TODAY.com. And because the compound absorbs excess moisture, it also helps prevent mold growth, thereby extending the shelf life of some products.

The cellulose used as a food additive is usually made from wood pulp or cotton lint, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an independent food and health watchdog group.

“The edible cellulose…

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