Foodfacts.com wants you to get to know what controversial ingredients are in your foods. Lets take a look at the controversial ingredient Gelatin. Gelatin, also known as gelatine, is a colorless water soluble protein. The jelly which is used in most of the desserts and sweets is made of gelatin. Gelatin in its natural form is colorless, odorless and tasteless. There have been many conceptions, misconceptions and beliefs about ingredients in gelatin. Let us have a look at it in detail.
Collagen is one of the chief ingredients of gelatin. Collagen is a scleroprotein found in the bone, cartilage and tendons of animals. When the bones or tissues of animals are boiled, collagen yields gelatin. Hence, getting straight to the point, you should know that gelatin can be obtained only from animal tissues. There is a wide spread misconception that gelatin is obtained from horse hooves, which is incorrect. Horse hooves or bones are never used in the production process of gelatin. Tissues of pigs, cattle and fish are prominently used in order to obtain gelatin.
Therefore, it is no doubt clear that as gelatin is gotten from animal sources, it cannot be considered as a vegetarian meal or product. Similarly, any product containing gelatin, like marshmallows, gummy bears, Peeps, Jell-O, etc. can never be included in vegan food products. Many capsule covers are also made with gelatin and hence, vegetarians should specifically have a check at the label of any medicine to make sure whether they are vegetarian or not. Gelatin is also one of the chief ingredients of toothpaste, certain cosmetics and soups and canned hams. Gelatin is commonly available in the form of granules, flakes as well as cubes.
The answer to the query, ‘is Kosher gelatin vegan or not’ is very ambiguous. Kosher or Kashrut, are a set of rules followed by the Jewish community about the production and edibility of food products. According to Kosher laws, any food items that contain flesh are considered as non-kosher while those gotten from plants are considered as kosher. However, as gelatin is obtained from bones and not from actual flesh, it is considered as kosher and can be eaten by Jewish adherents. Secondly, only the gelatin that comes from fish and all types of vegetarian gelatin are considered kosher. However, it is always advisable to check the Kosher laws and gelatin ingredients thoroughly before consuming any of such products.
Vegans may be disappointed to find that gelatin used in their favorite desserts is obtained from an animal source and hence, cannot be consumed. One should also know that no such product as the vegan gelatin exists. However, one may not be aware but, there are various substances that have similar properties like that of gelatin and can be used as a substitute to it. Agar agar, or only the agar, is a widely used vegan substitute for gelatin. Agar is obtained from seaweed or red algae and is used as an ingredient in many vegan desserts all over the world. Agar is obtained by boiling, purifying and drying red algae or red seaweed. The properties of agar are not exactly similar to that of gelatin, as it is more slimy and softer than gelatin. But nonetheless, it makes an excellent gelling agent in vegan marshmallows and jellies. Some of the other vegan substitutes for gelatin include Xanthan, Biobin, Guar and Carob fruit.
If you’re confused about the same, refer to food guide.
Now that you are aware of gelatin ingredients, it is always advisable to check the label of every product, specially desserts or canned foodstuffs. Presence of gelatin in it means it has been prepared from an animal source which definitely is not a vegan option!