Food Safety Focus (35th Issue, June 2009) – Food Incident Highlight
Non-food Grade Gelatin and Food Safety
Recently, media reported in the Mainland that leather factories' remnants are being further processed to make gelatin for food use, which raised some food safety concerns.
Gelatin is a protein made from partial hydrolysis of animal collagen. Food-grade gelatin is used as gelling agent in making jelly, marshmallows and gummy candies. Moreover, it is also used as a stabilising and thickening agent in manufacturing jams, yoghurt and ice-cream.
Non-food grade gelatin is not safe for food production as it often contains impurities, such as heavy metals (e.g. chromium, mercury, etc). Heavy metal analysis is conducted under the routine surveillance programme in the Centre for Food Safety (CFS). To address this recent incident, the CFS has taken some food samples for heavy metal testing and all results were satisfactory. To ensure the safety of the products, food manufacturers should obtain food grade ingredients from reliable sources.