Why are we replacing gelatin?


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  1. Ricebowl Food Expert
    February 18, 2020 at 11:16 am

    The application of gelatine in food industries is relatively broad, ranging from enhancement for the elasticity, consistency and stability of food products. Not only that, it is also used extensively in medicine, pharmaceuticals, personal care products as well as photographic industries (Ali et al., 2017).
    Gelatine is a highly purified animal protein acquired through partial hydrolysis of collagen originated from cartilages, bones, tendons and skins of animals. Commercial gelatine is mostly from beef bone, hide, pig skin and more recently pig bone. According to the statistic, the gelatine produced is normally from pig skin (41%), bovine bones (29.5%) and bovine hides (28.5%). Out of 500,000 metric tons annual world gelatine production, 90-95% of them are derived from non-Halal sources. At this moment in time, the production of fish gelatine as an alternative Halal gelatine is very minor (Hassan et al., 2019).
    Consumers have a great concern on gelatine source due to cultural and religious beliefs. For instances, Muslims and Jews reject porcine based food derivatives, Chinese traditional medicine use only gelatine from donkey skin and vegetarians avoid animal based products (Hameed et al., 2018). The dispute of gelatine replacement has existed for many years for the vegetarian, halal and kosher markets, but it is gaining increased interest particularly within Europe with the emergence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow diseases) in 1980s (Jaswir et al., 2016). Besides, allergic reactions have been reported from ingestion of an oral medication containing gelatine (Land, Piehl & Burks, 2013).
    There are some replacements for gelatine from plant sources such as carrageenan, agar-agar, konjac, and pectin as well as starches from corn and wheat (Jaswir et al., 2016).
    Carrageenan or also known as Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is extracted from red alga. It can be used as thickening agent in confectionery to replace gelatine (Mathew et al., 2019). Agar-agar is a gelatinous substance derived from seaweed which is high in fibre and nutrients. Hence it holds on to the gelatine replacement market in canned meats and spices with a market share of 150 tons during 2009 (Zuber et al., 2017). Apart from this, agar-agar is widely used as thickener in soups, jellies, ice cream and Japanese desserts such as anmitsu, and as a clarifying agent in brewing (Jaswir et al., 2016).
    Konjac (or konnyaku, in Japanese) is a plant of the genes Amorphophallus, and is typically mottled grey and is firmer than most gelatine (Jaswir et al., 2016). Konjac is one of the newly developed veggie gelatine that receives good attention in food industries. It appears in various Japanese cuisines, from traditional dishes like sashimi to noodle and jelly. It is high in fibre and contains almost no calories (Hassan et al., 2019).
    Pectin is mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as gelling agent mostly in jams and jellies. Besides, pectin is used in fillings and sweets or as stabilizers in fruit juices and milk drinks (Jaswir et al., 2016).
    Last of all, chemically modified food starches can be used to thicken different types of products including gravies, sauces, and pie fillings (Macdonald & Reitmeier, 2017).


    • Ali, E., Sultana, S., Hamid, S., Hossain, M., Yehya, W., Kader, A., & Bhargava, S. (2017). Gelatin controversies in food, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products: Authentication methods, current status, and future challenges. Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition, 58(9), 1495-1511. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2016.1264361
    • Hameed, A., Asiyanbi-H, T., Idris, M., Fadzillah, N., & Mirghani, M. (2018). A Review of Gelatin Source Authentication Methods. Tropical Life Sciences Research, 29(2), 213-227. https://doi.org/10.21315/tlsr2018.29.2.15
    • Hassan, F., Osman, I., Kassim, E., Haris, B., & Hassan, R. (2019). Contemporary Management and Science Issues in the Halal Industry (p. 320). Singapore: Springer Singapore.
    • Jaswir, I., Alotaibi, A., Jamal, P., Octavianti, F., Lestari, W., Hendri, R., & Alkahtani, H. (2016). Optimization of extraction process of plant-based gelatin replacer. International Food Research Journal, 23(6), 2519-2524.
    • Land, M., Piehl, M., & Burks, A. (2013). Near fatal anaphylaxis from orally administered gelatin capsule. The Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 1(1), 99-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaip.2012.09.004
    • Macdonald, R., & Reitmeier, C. (2017). Understanding Food Systems: Agriculture, Food Science, and Nutrition in the United States (p. 203). London: Academic Press.
    • Mathew, S., Raman, M., Kalarikkathara Parameswaran, M., & Rajan, D. (2019). Fish and Fishery Products Analysis (p. 398). Singapore: Springer.
    • Zuber, M., Ali, M., & Zia, K. (2017). Algae Based Polymers, Blends, and Composites (p. 4). San Diego: Elsevier Science & Technology Books.

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