Gelatin: Made from Hide, Bones & Connective Tissue of Animals
Gelatin is a ‘manufacturing aid’ in some foods and its use makes the products more palatable, more spreadable, and more texture-consistent. Marshmallows and the novelty ‘Marshmallow Peeps’ use gelatin as a stabilizer (thickener.) Other familiar products such as yogurt, cream cheese, cheese dressing for cottage cheese, margarine and jams include gelatin.
Fat-reduced foods often use gelatin to simulate the pleasing feeling of fat in food (admit it, foods that are fatty do taste good and have a satisfying fill-you-up effect when eaten) and it is used also create product volume while not adding calories hence, ‘fat reduced.’ It is really ‘whipped’ but otherwise normal products are often ‘liter’ or ‘calorie-reduced’ due to lots of minuscule air bubbles. Yogurt ‘Mousse’ will occupy the full volume of the cup and yet have only half the calories of the ‘regular’ product due directly to the air content by volume.
Hide Glue and Other Uses of Gelatin
Other uses of gelatin are in the manufacture of certain types of adhesives. A type of glue adhesive called ‘animal glue’ or ‘hide glue’ is used to assemble violins. This creates a suitable bond that can still be pried apart without damaging the delicate wood. Violins are periodically disassembled for whatever reasons, and reassembled using ‘hide glue.’ Sandpaper, match-heads and glossy playing cards also use gelatin for its binding properties. Paintball ammunition is a gelatin shell, similar to the ‘gel tabs’ of pharmaceutical use.
Gelatin products such as "Knox" and "Jell-O" are known to promote good joint health and function. The collagen it contains may in fact help repair damage and relieve discomfort and pain in swollen and worn joint. As a protein supplement, it is somewhat lacking and was the cause of several deaths in the 1960s when a ‘liquid protein diet’ caused malnutrition and death in several consumers. The basic tenet of a liquid protein diet is that it is for severely obese people and with medical supervision; a ‘liquid protein’ regimen is undertaken for a very short duration, generally 3 months or less.
The attractiveness of the liquid protein diet is effectiveness, and affordability. It is one of the cheapest ways to rapidly lose weight. The weight loss is rapid (2-3 pounds per week) and is a good ‘head start’ to a medically-supervised weight-loss program, and healthy lifestyle. In the conscientious weight-loss program, the patient learns to reintegrate healthy foods into the diet as they wean-off of the liquid diet. Again, medical supervision is the first and best way to proceed when using any weight-loss product.
Health Concerns: Diseases that might be Transmissible in Gelatin (animal based protein product)
In more recent years the concerns about the source of the hides and other animal by-products used in gelatin have risen since the emergence of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (“TSE,”) the ‘prion disease’ that are a group of conditions that affect the nervous system of both animals and humans. “Prions” refer to an infectious agent of proteins, mainly affecting and relegated to the brain and nervous tissues. The incurable, always fatal diseases of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) called ‘mad cow disease’ and the human equivalent Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease ("CJD") belong to this TSE group. Careful consideration must be used in determining the health of the animal and thus, whether or not to use the by-products derived from it in the production of gelatin.
The emergence of BSE may have begun with just one sick cow which died and was rendered into protein slurry and fed to other cattle. This is an old and oft-used practice that is now banned in many countries. Prions (infected protein product) cannot be transmitted through the air, but it is infectious so touching or handling (as well as eating) the infected product can spread the disease. Boiling, cooking or other heat-intensive sterilization and even irradiation measures are ineffective against prion diseases. So maybe the sects that refuse to consume or use any product that contains gelatin manufacturing aid may have been right all along.
While far from being a vegetarian or even conscientious objector in principle to the eating of animal flesh, I am beginning to have a difficult time imagining ever eating Jell-O again without wondering about the safety of the animal-based gelatin used therein.
[link to factoidz.com