Sources of Food Ingredients: Tara Gum
- What is tara gum?
Tara gum is a hydrocolloid used as a thickener, stabilizer, and gelling agent in food products. Also called the Peruvian carob or Caesalpinia spinosa, tara gum is a white or yellow powder which is soluble in hot water and partially soluble in cold water.
- How is tara gum made?
Tara gum is obtained by grinding the endosperm of the seeds of Caesalpinia spinose plant, of the Leguminosae family, to create a powder.
- Why is tara gum in my food?
Tara gum is used in food because it acts as a thickening, stabilizing, and gelling agent, which improves the texture of the product.
- What foods and beverages contain tara gum?
Tara gum is found in bakery products, dairy products, desserts, frozen desserts, water jellies, meat based products, fruit preparations, low sugar jam and jelly, noodles, and sauces.
- Is tara gum permitted for use in the U.S. and in other countries?
Tara gum is not permitted for use in the U.S. However, tara gum has been reviewed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the EU Scientific Committee for Food (now the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)) and both authorities assigned an acceptable daily intake of “not specified,” which means it has very low toxicity and does not present a hazard to human health when consumed at typical consumption levels. EFSA re-evaluated the safety of tara gum and in 2017 published a scientific opinion stating there are no safety concerns for the general public at reported use levels in food and upholding the ADI “not specified.”
- Can tara gum be used in foods marketed as organic, vegetarian, halal or kosher?
Yes, certain forms of tara gum can be certified organic in the EU accordance with the standards and regulations of the EU Regulation on organic agriculture. Tara gum can be certified halal and kosher as well.
- Why is tara gum necessary in foods and beverages?
Tara gum is necessary in foods and beverages because it acts as a stabilizing, thickening, and gelling agent in food, which affects the viscosity and texture of products. These key factors help to improve the quality attributes and shelf life of foods that contain this common hydrocolloid.
- How does the production and use of tara gum impact the environment?
Tara gum comes from the Peruvian Carob plant. Carob plants are drought tolerant, air pollution tolerant, and low maintenance. They don’t require a lot of cultivation and are recommended to revive areas that suffer from deforestation. Carob plants are also great for areas that suffer from poor soil.
- How does tara gum made food more affordable?
Hydrocolloids like tara gum improve the shelf life of foods, cutting down on food waste. This means that tara gum acts as a preservative that makes food last longer and keeps prices lower.
- Does tara gum contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)?
No, tara gum does not contain GMOs.
- Is tara gum safe for children?
Though tara gum has not been tested on humans, scientists have found no adverse effects from ingesting tara gum in moderation.
- How long has tara gum been used in foods?
Tara gum has been used in foods since its discovery in the mid-1700s by scientist Carolus Linnaeus.