Monday, 27 June 2011

Carboxymethyl cellulose application summary

Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose is not currently permitted in wine, but the Winemakers Federation of Australia have applied to have it included in the code as a permitted additive. The application is found on the FSANZ website at: Application A1047– Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose as a Food Additive in Wine. Anyone may make a submission until 11th July.

It appears that there are two reasons the WFA argues CMC should be allowed: that it would provide another tool for control of tartrate crystal formation, and that it is required for the wine agreement with the EU, since EU wines containing it are not legal for sale in Australia.

The assessment of FSANZ is that the application should be allowed. Should no review be required, FSANZ expects gazettal of the changes mid December 2011. I understand that gazettal marks the time additions may legally be made.

Here is a basic summary of the role CMC would play in Australian winemaking:

Source(s) Purpose Health considerations Usage
sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (food additive code number 466) Derived from plant cellulose Prevents formation or growth of crystals of potassium hydrogen tartrate in wine, hence would provide an alternative means of cold-stabilising wine. Non-toxic and non-allergenic. Permitted as an additive in other foods in Australia (i.e. CMC is listed in schedule 2 of standard 1.3.1). Used as a thickener and emulsifier, it seems we might be most likely to encounter it in ice cream or toothpaste. The current method of cold stabilisation involves refrigeration which accounts for a large part of winery electrcity use. This simple alternative would be cheaper and reduce energy consumption.

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