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…