Is Gellan Gum Vegan? – Find it Now (Updated 2023)

If you’re vegan, you’ve likely heard of gellan gum – a widely-used additive that gels and stabilizes food products.

But whether gellan gum is vegan or not is far from clear-cut. While it often appears in plant-based foods, not all forms of gellan gum pass the vegan test.

In this article, we’ll delve into gellan gum’s vegan status, exploring its history, production methods, and how it’s used in food.

We’ll also touch on any safety concerns you should know about. Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or a newcomer to plant-based eating, grasping the vegan status of gellan gum is crucial for making informed dietary decisions.

So, let’s get started!

1. What is Gellan Gum?

Gellan gum stabilizes and gels products in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical industries as it is a polysaccharide. Sphingomonas elodea bacteria produce it.

It has a unique molecular structure that makes it an effective binding agent, emulsifier, and thickener.

2. Purpose of Gellan Gum in Food

You know that the food industry widely uses gellan gum to create textures and stabilize products. It improves the appearance and texture of various food products like beverages, dairy products, desserts, and sauces.

3. History of Gellan Gum

In the late 1970s, scientists made an exciting discovery – a bacterium called Sphingomonas elodea 1.

They found that this tiny organism could produce something unique – a special type of polysaccharide.

The researchers named this newly discovered substance gellan gum. Fast forward to the 1990s, and food scientists started incorporating gellan gum into their products.

4. Vegan vs. Non-Vegan Gellan Gum

The bacteria requiring a nutrient source produce gellan gum, a common thickening agent used in many food and industrial products through a fermentation process.

The choice between lactose and glucose as a nutrient source can impact the vegan status of the final product.

If lactose is used, then the gellan gum produced is not vegan. However, if glucose is used, then the gellan gum produced is vegan-friendly. 

For those who follow a vegan diet or are interested in animal-free products, it’s important to note this difference.

5. How Gellan Gum is usually Produced?

Sphingomonas elodea bacteria ferments and produces gellan gum. The bacteria grow in a nutrient medium containing lactose or glucose, and then the fermented solution undergoes extraction to obtain gellan gum.

How Gellan Gum is typically Produced?

6. Why Gellan Gum Produced from Lactose is not Vegan?

Using lactose to produce Gellan gum does not qualify it as vegan because lactose is derived from milk, an animal product. This means that gellan gum produced using lactose is not suitable for individuals following a vegan diet.

7. Companies that Produce Vegan Gellan Gum

These are Several companies produce vegan gellan gum, including CP Kelco, DSM, and Ingredion.

8. Uses of Gellan Gum

In food, pharmaceutical, and medical applications, gellan gum commonly functions as a gelling and stabilizing agent. It has unique properties that make it an effective thickener, emulsifier, and binding agent.

Type of UseDescription
Gelling and stabilizing properties Gellan gum is useful for creating a range of textures in food products, from soft and elastic to firm and brittle, and can help prevent ingredients from separating or settling.
Food and beveragesGellan gum is used in a variety of food and beverage products, including dairy products, desserts, sauces, and beverages, to improve texture and extend shelf life.
Medical and pharmaceutical applicationsGellan gum can be used as a drug delivery system, wound dressing, and tissue engineering scaffold in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.
Foods containing gellan gumGellan gum can be found in a range of food products, including dairy products, plant-based milk alternatives, desserts, sauces, dressings, and beverages.
Overview of various food categories that may contain gellan gumGellan gum is commonly found in dairy products, plant-based milk alternatives, desserts, sauces, dressings, and beverages.
Specific productsVegan cream cheese, non-dairy ice cream, soy milk, and sports drinks are some specific products that may contain gellan gum.
SafetyGellan gum is approved for use in food by regulatory agencies, but some individuals may experience digestive issues.

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9. FAQs – Gellan Gum

Is gellan gum a safe ingredient?

Yes, Regulatory agencies around the world have approved gellan gum as safe for human consumption, and scientific studies have not identified any major safety concerns.

Is gellan gum halal or haram?

Yes, it is considered as halal because gellan gum is derived from bacterial fermentation and does not contain any animal-derived ingredients.

10. Summary

Many vegan products commonly use gellan gum as a food additive because it can act as a gelling and stabilizing agent.

However, not all forms of gellan gum are vegan, and understanding the production methods and sources of gellan gum can help vegans make informed decisions about the foods they consume.

In this article, we will delve into the vegan status of gellan gum, covering its history, production, uses, and safety considerations.