When we were young, our mum always told us not to eat soft candies, because it contains gelatine which is derived from an animal. But you know, as a kid, it’s very tempting to eat it anyway. Especially when you see the pretty colours and cute shapes of the candies.
So, what exactly is gelatine?
Gelatine is derived from the skin, bones and connective tissues of pigs, cows, chickens, horses, fish and the animal by-products of the meat and leather industries. The skin, bones and connective tissues are chopped, boiled and filtered to form a gel substance. This gel substance is called gelatine. It’s transparent, flavourless and odourless. Every year, approximately 375 million kg of gelatine is produced worldwide!
Where is gelatine used in?
Gelatine is commonly used as a gelling agent for food and usually sold in sheets, granules, or powder. It’s also widely used in cosmetics, medicine and photography.
Honestly, it wasn’t until recently that we discovered gelatine is also used in the paracetamol we always bought. We were horrified because we took in a lot throughout the years. Normally, we would first read the ingredients on the packaging before consuming things, but it never occurred in our minds to read the ingredients of paracetamol, the famous pain reliever in the Netherlands.
Here are common examples of products that contain gelatine:
- gummy candies
- jelly beans
- jelly/ pudding
- facial masks
- skin care products
Fortunately, there are a lot of plant-based gelling agents that provide a similar gelling action as gelatine, for example:
- Agar agar (or kanten), extracted from various red seaweed
- Arrowroot, extracted from rootstock
- Carrageen, extracted from Irish moss
- Guargom, ground seeds of guar beans
- Pectin, extracted from citrus fruits
Despite the many plant-based options, gelatine is still used in a lot of the food and even in products where you expect the least, so be careful!
Have you accidentally eaten or used anything that contained gelatine before?