Gelatin Alert!

If candies are chewy, wobbly or elastic, it’s usually because of the presence of partially hydrolyzed protein called collagen. In simple English, gelatin.

A friend of mine really loved to eat these colorful, wobbly, chewy and strange-looking candies. She called them different names, according to their shape and color. I was with her once when she bought a pack. She asked me to try some. As is my habit on things I buy and eat, I went through the ingredients when my eyes caught the word “gelatin.”

Checking every pack and every kind, I was surprised to see they all had gelatin. My friend asked me about it, and I explained to her some facts about gelatin and why some candies have it…

If candies are chewy, wobbly or elastic, it’s usually because of the presence of partially hydrolyzed protein called collagen. In simple English, gelatin. Gelatin comes from the Latin word gelatus, meaning stiff or frozen. It dissolves in hot water and forms a gel or jelly like feature when cooled down or frozen. It is a whitish, tasteless, odorless, and translucent substance extracted from the skin and bones of animals. This protein is present in all animal bodies—even in yours.

Its functional uses range from gelling, binding, emulsifying, film generating, and thickening. Gelatin is used in foods like dairy products, jams and candies; in photography for films, plates, and paper; in medicine as a coating for pills and some surgical dressings. In its impure form, it is used in the making of glue.

In candies, gelatin source is usually from hooves of calves. Sad but true. From an article by Roland Henykes on the safety of bovine-derived gelatin:

“About 65 % of the world-wide produced gelatin comes from hidesplits, connective tissue and the bones of cattle. Otherwise pigs serve for source material. Only in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand also sheep are used. The quality of the gelatin is influenced by the source of supply, which in Europe traditionally is mainly from pigs in the case of gelatin for food and medicaments.”

“There is such a huge demand of raw material, that a limitation to very young or especially natural living animals is not possible. But at least in Germany only slaughter wastes from animals, which are released for human consumption, are used for the production of gelatin for food and medicaments.”

Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Well, if you’re vegetarian and seek the chewy stuff, look for vegetarian gelatin-called carageenan or agar-which comes from sea vegetation. Make it a habit to check the ingredients of what you buy and eat. Play safe; if in doubt, don’t buy! You lose nothing by not buying or eating candies.

In candies, gelatin source is usually from hooves of calves. Sad but true.

What you have in your mind?