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Human-Based Gelatin?

Human-Based Gelatin?

Gelatin has always freaked me out–an ingredient derived from slaughterhouse leftovers (skin! bones! connective tissue!) has no place in my desserts, thank you. Aside from the emotional reaction many of us may have to animal-based gelatin, there is also the risk of infectious diseases such as “Mad Cow” disease and that gelatin can provoke immune system responses in some people. Animal-based gelatin has other draw-backs, with variability from batch to batch, for instance, creating difficulties for manufacturers.

So what’s the food industry to do? Scientists are reporting development of a new method to create large quantities of human-derived gelatin that could become a substitute for some of the 300,000 tons of animal-based gelatin produced annually for gelatin-type desserts, marshmallows, candy and many other products. Their study appears in ACS’s Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.

The scientists have developed and demonstrated an apporach where human gelatin genes are inserted into a strain of yeast, which can produce gelatin with controllable features. The researchers are still testing the human-yeast gelatin to see how well it compares to other gelatins in terms of its viscosity and other attributes. The researchers suggest that their method could be scaled up to produce large amounts of gelatin for commercial use.

And I thought regular gelatin was creepy…

Read more: Basics, Diet & Nutrition, Food, News & Issues

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

95 comments

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8:43AM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

Is this for real?
mad cow disease -- to mad human disease?
Where are the articles, links, and petitions to prevent this?

2:24PM PDT on Sep 22, 2011

Not quite getting this......do they mean that the yeast is only part of the 'production' of the gelatin, or is it actually in the gelatin itself??

I don't eat anyway but I'm kind of curious.....it will be something to shock my flesh-eating friends with :)

7:33PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

Why not?

4:23PM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

I wouldn't use it!

10:23PM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

Wow! It is so soylent green. Add one more GM franken-scary thing most people will eat with gusto.

6:18AM PDT on Jul 28, 2011

Grossssss. All gelatin is gross.

4:17AM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

the mad cow came about because they ate pions(or was it pirons?) they ate brains and brain stems and spinal cords and got sick.

10:02AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

This is just wrong, and reminds me of Mad Cow, which the article refered to. So of course it is wrong to feed cows to cows, which is how mad cow came about, but it is OK to feed human cells to humans? This is so wrong, I just wished they would spend the time and money on more worthy causes.

5:35AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Folks are so squeamish....We all eat plenty more disgusting things than this pretty regularly.

We aren't talking about slaughtering humans for their gelatin content....The idea is to use human genes to insert into yeast cells to create a food substance. Its a very intriguing idea and could be a valuable addition to our food supply. Mad Cow is pretty horrifying and allergies are no fun at all.

Thanks for the food for thought.

2:48AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Gelatin has rarely been a food source in my house, and now will never be...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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