24 Mar Animal Parts Used For Lollies (Gelatine)
NOTE: For the purposes of label-reading, it’s important to note that it can be spelled two ways: the U.S spelling is ‘Gelatin’ and the rest of the world usually adds an ‘e’ to the end. However, it is the same product.
Sweets, lollies, candies – depending on what part of the world you grew up in, there’ll be a child-like, playful term in common usage to describe confectionary and sugary snacks. A nod to childhood nostalgia, simpler times and seemingly innocuous treats. However, this deliberate marketing strategy belies the ingredients often contained within. A common component of our modern sweet treats is the presence of Gelatine: a protein obtained from animal raw materials that contain collagen.
Gelatine is desirable due to it’s thickening properties when hydrolysed. Many cakes, jellies, gummy sweets, biscuits and marshmallows contain gelatine. It can also be found in our bathrooms as an ingredient in our shampoos and face masks. It’s so pervasive it can be challenging to avoid, making it’s way into photographic film, capsule coating vitamins and an agent in ‘clearing’ wines.
But what exactly is Gelatine/Gelatin? Put crudely, gelatine is the stuff that the slaughterhouse would otherwise hose down a drain. Ligaments, tendons, skin, horns, bones, and cartilage. Most gelatine is derived from cow and pig carcasses. Due to the sheer scale of live animals that are forced through the killing and dismembering process, as many parts of the animal as possible must be assigned a purpose. Otherwise, we would be left with countless tonnes of biohazard waste and no adequate method of disposal. Bear this in mind the next time someone justifies killing animals by maintaining we use as much of the carcass as possible. As long as we are killing animals, we have no environmental alternative but to give these largely inedible parts a purpose.
The process of making gelatine is straightforward, simply boil this hazardous melee of animal bones, tendons, ligaments, skin, horns and cartilage in water for 6-8hours until it thickens. After this time a yellowish, odourless and glue-like substance is produced. This substance is then a key ingredient for confectionary companies to produce tempting treats that they cleverly market to parents and children alike.
The good news is gelatine is significantly avoidable, and we don’t have to consume a soup of body parts that the slaughterhouse rejected. There are many sweet treats on the market that use gelatine alternatives. There are vegan beauty and bathroom products that can be swapped out for those that contain gelatine. For any recipes requiring gelatine, it is easily replaced for agar-agar, derived from a type of seaweed, that has the same thickening properties.
Author: Catherine Wright
Occupation: Project Administrator
Animal Rights Activist
Cover image by Sylvanus Urban on Unsplash