Sources of Food Ingredients: Gum Arabic
- What is gum arabic?
Gum arabic, also known as gum acacia, is a polysaccharide that is used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, thickener, and flavor encapsulator in foods and beverages.
- How is gum arabic made?
Gum arabic is derived from the hardened sap of two species of Acacia trees, Senegalia (Senegal) and Vachellia (Seyal).
- Why is gum arabic in my food?
Gum arabic is primarily used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, or thickener in foods and beverages. Emulsifiers help bind water and oil molecules, creating a smooth, homogeneous solution. Stabilizers help provide a smooth texture in a product, provide body and mouthfeel, and help keep nutrients and other components in the product from separating. Thickeners help increase the viscosity of a liquid product without altering other qualities.
- What foods and beverages contain gum arabic?
Gum arabic can be found in desserts like gumdrops, low-fat ice cream, and sugar-free candies. It is also used in sodas, beers, honey-roasted and other seasoned nuts, candy-coated nuts, mustard, dried egg products, creamy dairy foods, sherbet, sorbet, clotted cream, cheese, and dairy-based desserts (pudding).
- Is gum arabic permitted for use in the U.S. and in other countries?
- Can gum arabic be used in foods marketed as organic, vegetarian, halal or kosher?
Gum arabic is permitted in foods labeled organic in the United States. It may also be used in foods labeled as vegetarian, vegan, halal, and kosher.
- How does gum arabic benefit my health?
In the United States, FDA does not include gum arabic in its definition of dietary fibers that are disclosed in nutrition labeling. However, food labeling regulations in some countries do allow gum arabic to count toward dietary fiber. Dietary fibers, as a group, have positive physiologic effects on digestion, intestinal motility, health promotion and disease risk reduction.
- Why is gum arabic necessary in foods and beverages?
When used as an emulsifier, gum arabic helps bind water and oil molecules, creating a smooth, homogeneous solution which consumers expect.
When used as a stabilizer, gum arabic helps provide a smooth texture in a product, provide body and mouthfeel, and help keep nutrients and other components in the product from separating, which is key in meeting consumer expectations and preventing nutrients from calcifying at the bottom of the product.
When used as a thickener, gum arabic helps increase the viscosity of a liquid product without altering other qualities. All of these functions help extend shelf life and allow products to have different textures.
- How does the production and use of gum arabic impact the environment?
Acacia trees are beneficial to their environment, nourishing the surrounding soil and help to prevent desertification.
- How does gum arabic make food more affordable?
Gum arabic acts as a stabilizer, which can help extend a product’s shelf life. If the common foods associated with gum arabic did not contain that ingredient, their shelf life would decrease drastically contributing to food waste and additional costs to consumers.
- Does gum arabic contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
No, gum arabic does not contain GMOs.
- Is gum arabic safe for children?
Yes, gum arabic is safe for children. The European Food Safety Authority’s 2019 Scientific Opinion concluded “there is no reason for health concern” for infants consuming gum arabic.
- How long has gum arabic been used in foods?
Gum arabic has most likely been consumed for thousands of years, and has been used as a food additive for hundreds.