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on April 11, 2016

Gelatin: Has its time come for pet food applications?

While not a significant ingredient in today’s pet food and treat formulas, the potential for innovative solutions may warrant giving gelatin another look.

Sometimes innovation benefits from rethinking old technologies in new ways. In pet food, gelatin is an old ingredient technology that may facilitate new innovations. It has been commonly dismissed as an ingredient in pet food due to its cost and lack of functionality under the prevailing processing parameters. Specifically, gelatin is a cold-set gelling agent that is thermal reversible with a melting temperature of just under 35˚C; not exactly a sweet spot for pet food processes. However, gelatin is a very consistent quality ingredient with high consumer awareness and a favorable opinion, and is likely in the pet owner's pantry already. While gelatin may not have worked in years past, modern pet foods may need some of its unique properties today.

Gelatin has been around since the late 1800s as a commercially available ingredient. It is a breakdown product of collagen, the most common protein in the animal kingdom. Specifically, it is derived from demineralized bone and skin from cattle and pigs. Newer gelatin entrants to the market are also being derived from fish. The production of gelatin involves a preliminary wash step followed by extraction in water at stepwise temperature increases from 55˚C to +80˚C.

The water in the process can be acidified to yield type A gelatin (commonly applied to fish and pork skins and bones) or an alkali process can yield type B gelatin (derived from bovine hide). From either of these processes, the extracted gelatin is separated from the water via filtration across diatomaceous earth, purified…

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