Gelatin Free Products—A Dream Come True for Many
Saad Asrar, MS Food Science
Gelatin has always had a stigma for Muslims, and logically so, since most of the gelatin has been from porcine sources (or other animals not slaughtered according to Islamic rites). Gelatin poses not only a problem for Muslims but also for many Jews, Hindus, Vegetarians, and others. It has become possible for all such groups to obtain products which are composed of gelatin substitutes.
Such products include desserts, nutritional supplements, and many other products.
Gelatin substitutes are plant polymers which mimic, to some extent, the functional properties found in conventional animal based gelatin. Typical shape of gelatin molecules offers strength and flexibility not found in plant based polymers such as alginate, cornstarch, or carrageenan (Walstra, 1996). Vegetable-based substitutes lack the “melt-in-the-mouth” and elastic properties of gelatin (Cole, 2000), or other properties of gelatin. However, the food industry has discovered ways to produce products similar to conventional gelatin products—with gelatin substitutes. This in fact is very appealing to those who can not consume conventional gelatin products, for whatever reason.
IFANCA currently certifies several companies producing non-gelatin based hard and soft-gel capsules. The U.K. based Healthspan is an example of such a company. Healthspan uses capsule shells made of vegetable based polymers. Healthspan produces gelatin free natural Vitamin E as well as gelatin free Evening Primrose Oil capsules, and many other products.
Another company that makes use of gelatin substitutes is the Nutrilite Corporation. One of their IFANCA certified products (among many) is the Veggie 150 Omega Complex, as well as various gelatin free soft-gels which use veggie based polymers for their capsules.
The 4-Life Corporation, which also produces dietary supplements such as their various Transfer Factor formulas are IFANCA certified.
For the companies looking for vegetable based capsules, IFANCA certifies two piece hard shell capsules manufactured by Pfizer, which are totally made of vegetable materials. These capsules are halal as well as kosher and vegan.
For complete and up to date information about certified nutritional products made from both halal certified gelatin and gelatin free products please visit our website at www.ifanca.org.
In short, it is possible to substitute animal based gelatin with plant based polymers in various applications. IFANCA is working tirelessly to promote such alternatives.
Allah (SWT) knows best.
Cole, B. 2000. Gelatin, in F.J. Francis (ed.) Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology 2: 1183-1188. New York: Wiley
Walstra, P. 1996. Dispersed systems: Basic considerations, in O. Fennema (ed.) Food Chemistry: 95-155. New York: Dekker