E 460(i) Microcrystalline cellulose – EU specification

COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 231/2012 of 9 March 2012


Cellulose gel


Microcrystalline cellulose is purified, partially depolymerised cellulose prepared by treating alpha-cellulose, obtained as a pulp from strains of fibrous plant material, with mineral acids. The degree of polymerisation is typically less than 400

Einecs: 232-674-9

Chemical name: Cellulose

Chemical formula: (C 6 H 10 O 5 ) n

Molecular weight: About 36 000

Assay: Not less than 97 % calculated as cellulose on the anhydrous basis

Particle size: Not less than 5 μm (not more than 10 % of particles of less than 5 μm)


A fine white or almost white odourless powder


Solubility: Insoluble in water, ethanol, ether and dilute mineral acids. Slightly soluble in sodium hydroxide solution

Colour reaction: To 1 mg of the sample, add 1 ml of phosphoric acid and heat on a water bath for 30 minutes. Add 4 ml of a 1 in 4 solution of pyrocatechol in phosphoric acid and heat for 30 minutes. A red colour is produced

Infrared absorption spectroscopy:To be identified

Suspension test: Mix 30 g of the sample with 270 ml of water in a high-speed (12 000 rpm) power blender for 5 minutes. The resultant mixture will be either a free-following suspension or a heavy, lumpy suspension which flows poorly, if at all, settles only slightly and contains many trapped air bubbles. If a free-flowing suspension is obtained, transfer 100 ml into a 100-ml graduated cylinder and allow to stand for 1 hour. The solids settles and a supernatant liquid appears

pH: The pH of the supernatant liquid is between 5,0 and 7,5 (10 % suspension in water)


Loss on drying: Not more than 7 % (105 °C, 3 hours)

Water soluble matter: Not more than 0,24 %

Sulphated ash: Not more than 0,5 % (800 ± 25 °C)

Starch: Not detectable. To 20 ml of the dispersion obtained in Identification, suspension test, add a few drops of iodine solution and mix. No purplish to blue or blue colour should be produced

Carboxyl groups: Not more than 1 %

Arsenic: Not more than 3 mg/kg

Lead: Not more than 2 mg/kg

Mercury: Not more than 1 mg/kg

Cadmium: Not more than 1 mg/kg