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Carboxymethyl cellulose is converted spontaneously to a salt in alkaline solution, and it is probable that the distinction between carboxymethyl cellulose and its salts is artificial. However, carboxymethyl cellulose is listed as GRAS as a substance migrating to food from cotton or cotton fabrics used in dry food packaging, while its sodium salt is listed as GRAS as a miscellaneous or general purpose food additive.
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Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) or cellulosegum is a cellulose derivative withcarboxymethyl groups (-CH2-COOH) bound to some of the hydroxyl groups of the glucopyranose monomers that make up the cellulose backbone. It is often used as its sodium salt, sodiumcarboxymethyl cellulose.