Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What is Dow Wellence™ Gluten-Free Additive Made From?

Dow: Promising Better Gluten-Free Breads

Have you seen the advertisements for Dow's Gluten-Replacement?

You know the gluten-free market is growing when companies like Dow take notice. And, if you are like me, over the past few months you may have seen ads from Dow (Chemical Company) talking about their breakthrough ingredient that makes gluten-free baked goods better than ever. Well, these ads are referring to a Gluten Replacement product from Dow Wolff Cellulosics called: WELLENCE™ GLUTEN FREE.

[Update: 2017: I notice Dow also has other gluten-free plant-based stabilizers now like WALOCEL; I have had quite a few bread products in the UK/EU that use these or similar types of methylcarboxycellulose / Carboxymethylcellulose or CMC for short (all the naming variations get confusing) products and they are utterly fantastic and superior to Xanthan Gum and other such gums!. Breads made using these, like the UK's Genius Bread gluten-free bread products, are just incredibly like the real thing!]

Dow is pitching this as a "plant-based cellulose that mimics gluten attributes and helps gluten-free bread, pasta and dough taste more like the real thing". Or, in their more marketing-hyped Dow Wellence Gluten-Replacement description (at time of this writing):
"Finding a suitable replacement for gluten to create high-quality gluten-free foods has been a significant challenge for the industry. Wellence™ Gluten Free is a plant-based food ingredient that mimics the water-absorbing and structural capacity of gluten—allowing food manufacturers to create best-in-class gluten-free foods that satisfy the dietary needs of consumers without compromising on taste, look, or feel."

OK, so what exactly is Wellence Gluten-Free Made From?

I was curious to find out what this "plant-based cellulose" gluten-replacement is derived from. And, honestly it took some digging around to locate anything in detail. Their video ad talks about how "green" and "sustainable" of solution this is, how nothing else in the market offers the qualities their gluten-replacement does, and so forth. But, what is it exactly?

I finally located the answer in, of all places, their "Wellence Gluten Free 47129 Raw Materials Origin" technical documents (link). And, this is what it comes down to (per Dow's documentation, quoted here, that I was able to find at the time of writing this blog entry):
"Wellence 47129 parent materials are water-soluble polymers derived from cellulose, the most abundant polymer in nature. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and carboxymethylcellulose, sodium salt products are manufactured from highly purified cellulose which is further modified to obtain the desired properties. The wood pulp used by the parent material of Wellence 47129 plants in Europe and North America is a high purity, specialty cellulose designed for chemical processes. These materials are manufactured in compliance with all local standards and requirements. Wellence 47129 parent material products produced in our plants in the United States and Germany are manufactured with raw materials from France, Norway, Canada, and the United States, depending on the specific grade being produced."
Yes, you read that correctly... Dow Wellence Gluten-Replacement is derived from wood pulp, essentially. But, do I care, or should you care?  That is a good question, and the answer depends a lot upon whether you believe modern chemistry is an ideal solution for a gluten-replacement, or whether you think we (with Celiac-Disease and/or gluten-free diets) should rely completely on more traditional replacements such as Xanthan and Guar Gum,... or perhaps better yet, for those like me that cannot tolerate such added gums, how about completely mainstream "normal" things like gluten-free whey-protein or gluten-free chia-seed or perhaps another favorite of mine: gluten-free plain non-fat Greek yogurt?

I am personally quite curious to see/try products that use this Dow product.  I cannot say I have seen anything in the store that specifically mentioned it on the ingredient label (not sure it would say Wellence - if that is required by license - or if it would just say "cellulose" or such).  I will keep my eyes open and try to find a loaf of bread or something with it in (instead of Xanthan and the usual gums), since perhaps my GI tract will not hate it as it hates gums!  That'd sure be a plus.  I am not too concerned about wood-pulp derivatives, no matter how odd it sounds.  But, honestly, the bulk of my baking/cooking will rely on those "normal" ingredients I mentioned earlier: yogurt, whey, chia, etc.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available


Rmc7 said...

I can't wait to try this, I've been searching the Internet but haven't found a bakery that uses it. I rather go completely without bread than eat the gluten free products they all taste bad! I don't have celiac, just a gluten sensitivity, so after years of the good stuff, I just can't even stand the smell of the other.

Anonymous said...

The ingredients on the Glutino bread on their website list carboxymethyl cellulose. This does sound like a description of Wellence. Your chance to try it.

Jeff said...

Hello All, I contacted DOW and this is the response I received. I also contacted the bakery in Scotland and he sent me a couple bags of flour. I have made bread and Pierogis with it. The bread still struggled to rise but it was better than before.
Here is the response I received
” Thank you for contacting the Dow Customer Information Group.

WELLENCE (TM) Gluten Free is not available directly to consumers, but instead sold to commercial bakers and food manufacturers to be incorporated into their products. If you are intersted in products that are made with WELLENCE (TM) Gluten Free, please see below.

Try for yourself, Wellence (TM) Gluten Free is used in the fine bakery products offered by Kinnikinnick Foods Soft Bread & Buns - www.kinnikinnick.com/. Or, those interested in trying gluten-free products to bake at home, try the delicious Bread & Pizza Dough premix offered at www.wheat-freebakerydirect.com. This company, based in Scotland, also offers gluten-free products for sale to wholesalers and distributors who might wish to stock these products in their local markets.

Kinnikinnick Foods Contact Us Information:
Toll Free: 1-877-503-4466”

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting! It looks like Kinnikinnik has discontinued many of their old formulas, and replaced them with new lines. The ingredients list both "cellulose" and "modified cellulose" (see "white bread" ingredients)- Most likely the Wellence product.

kelly said...

Thank you for this post!

The normal cellulose is indigestible. Is this modified cellulose that is water-soluble digestible?