Gelatine is a pure protein obtained from animal raw materials containing collagen. Gelatine contains 84-90% protein and 1-2% mineral salts. The rest is water. Gelatine does not contain any preservatives or other additives. It is free of cholesterol, fat, sugars, additives, purines (= uric acid compounds) and causes no common allergies.
The most common form of gelatine is edible gelatine. It is an ingredient in yoghurts, light creamy foods and jelly. It gives fruit gums their unique texture.
Hydrolysed collagen is type 1 hydrolysed collagen, the same as that found in human bones and skin. It is a natural product containing 97 % protein (on a dry weight basis). It does not have any gelling strength. It is especially soluble, even in cold liquids and has good organoleptic properties. It plays an important role in functional foods and dietary supplements e.g. for bone and joint health or beauty maintenance. As a pure protein it also used in weight management products such as nutritional bars or diet products.
The raw material for hydrolysed collagen is very much the same as for gelatine. However, the production process and the properties are different.
Hydrolysed collagen is produced by an enzymatic hydrolysis of the collagen. Due to the lower molecular weight caused by shorter peptide chains hydrolysed collagen shows no gelling power but a number of health and beauty related properties instead.
One form of gelatine is leaf gelatine. Cut into rectangles with a pattern resulting from the manufacturing process and elastic in its movements, at first glance it looks more like a work of art. Leaf gelatine can be portioned especially well and easily and is used mostly in the household, catering, bakeries and butchers.
Soluble (Instant) gelatines were specially developed to prevent the heating of the gelatine that is needed to dissolve it. They are often used to stabilize foodstuffs such as gateaux, desserts and other sweet and cold dishes.
The food industry uses gelatine in numerous products. Here are a few examples: gelatine gives fruit gums their elasticity and the desired chewy consistency. It stabilizes the cream in gateaux. Yoghurts and curd cheese dishes owe their creaminess to gelatine. And its gelling property makes it possible to prepare visually attractive aspics and brawn. Gelatine also plays an important role in low-calorie diets. It can bind water and is therefore indispensable for the manufacture of light products.
The pharmaceuticals industry is another sector that uses the extraordinary properties of gelatine. Gelatine capsules protect the active agents and vitamins from the oxygen, light and moisture and prevent annoying odour and taste sensations.
In addition to edible and pharmaceutical gelatine there is also technical gelatine. It is used by the photographic industry and in printing shops.
Nowadays consumers are more and more looking for healthier foods with less fat, less sugar and less calories. Gelatine can perfectly answer this trend and help to improve the nutritional value and the quality of any kind of prepared foods, desserts, dairy products…:
At least 80 per cent of the edible gelatine used in Europe is manufactured from pig skin. A maximum of 10 per cent of the raw materials comes from cattle. This is mainly hide split (the middle layer of the skin). The remaining edible gelatine is made out of cattle and pig bones and fish.
The raw materials come only from slaughtered animals that have been approved fit for human consumption. They have the quality of meat products used in cuisine. After all gelatine is a foodstuff.
The manufacturing process is broken down into several complex stages from the extraction of gelatine from the collagen containing raw materials, filtration, to the final sterilization at 140°C. The combination of the individual manufacturing stages makes gelatine a healthy and safe product.
Pharmaceutical gelatine is manufactured in exactly the same way as edible gelatine. Strict rules apply to both. Moreover, the authorities responsible for the safety of medicines have also examined the origin of the raw materials, the selection of the raw materials and the manufacturing processes and specifically approved the individual types of gelatine from each manufacturer.
In some particular applications, gelatine can be partially replaced – i.e. in respect to particular properties – but not its multi-functionality, which would lead to major changes in the product properties.
The list of its properties is long, meaning that it is used in many sectors. Gelatine in the foodstuff binds gels and stabilizes. It can turn liquid into a solid mass and then turn it back into a liquid at body temperature which is unique. It has a neutral taste. And it is healthy. Furthermore, gelatine does not contain any fat, carbohydrates or cholesterol. And unlike soya, egg protein or milk protein it only has a negligible potential for causing allergies.
Certainly, gelatine has always been a healthy and safe foodstuff. With regard to its safety gelatine is certainly the best-studied foodstuff. On the basis of international research results the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection have confirmed that gelatine is safe.
Some gelatine manufacturers produce halal or kosher gelatines that answer Muslim or Jewish religious requirements. They careful select raw materials (fish skin, beef skins and bones) and can ensure that these gelatines are made from animals killed according to the religious laws.
The raw materials for the manufacture of gelatine come from registered slaughterhouses in which all animals are examined by a vet. Moreover, in all European slaughterhouses BSE tests are carried out on all cattle that are older than 30 months.
In addition to the statutory guidelines on raw materials, the production process of gelatine has always been another fundamental safety criterion for the consumer.
Study results prove that the consumption of gelatine has never posed any risk to human health.