Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose

The GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Database allows access to opinions and conclusions from 115 SCOGS reports published between 1972-1980 on the safety of over 370 Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food substances. The GRAS ingredient reviews were conducted by the Select Committee in response to a 1969 White House directive by President Richard M. Nixon.

Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose

  • SCOGS-Report Number: 25*
  • Type Of Conclusion: 2
  • ID Code: 9004-65-3
  • Year: 1973
  • 21 CFR Section: 

SCOGS Opinion:

Cellulose is a major constituent of many foods of plant origin. As such it is a significant portion of the diet, but is neither degraded nor absorbed. Cellulose derivatives considered in this report are virtually unabsorbed and little or no degradation of absorbed and little or no degradation of absorbable products occurs in the human digestive tract. In man, consumption of large amounts appears to have no effect other than providing dietary bulk, reducing the nutritive value of such foodstuffs and possibly exerting a laxative effect. However, the existence of certain data and the different categorization of cellulose and the several cellulose derivatives on the GRAS list suggest that the Select Committee should render a separate opinion on each substance considered in this report.


Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose is not listed as GRAS. It is a food additive used as a thickening agent, stabilizer and emulsifier. Hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose is synthesized from methyl cellulose by the action of alkali and propylene oxide. There are no data available to suggest that hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose possesses adverse health effects; however, teratology studies similar to those conducted with methyl cellulose are not available for its hydroxypropyl derivative. Therefore, it is suggested that, in due course, appropriate studies should be conducted with hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose.

The Select Committee has weighed the foregoing and concludes that:

There is no evidence in the available information on hydroxypropylmethyl cellulose that demonstrates, or suggested reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when it is used at levels that are now current and in the manner now practiced (21 CFR 121.1021)

*Complete reports containing details of the safety studies that formed the basis of the opinions and conclusions and are available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161 (703) 605-6000.

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