Gellan gum is used alongside other stabilizers like guar gum and carrageenan – ingredients that you’ve probably seen on some of the processed foods, drinks, and other products you’ve brought home. But do you know what gellan gum really is?
Gellan gum is a food additive used to thicken, stabilize, and bind processed foods and drinks. It’s produced by bacteria through fermentation – similar to other fermented foods and drinks like yogurt, sauerkraut, and beer!
We’ll explain more about gellan gum, what it’s in, and if it’s good for you in this article!
What is gellan gum?
Gellan gum is a polysaccharide (a type of sugar) produced by bacteria called Sphingomonas elodea. Gellan gum is produced commercially through a process of fermentation (feeding sugar to bacteria to create a new product) to be used as a food additive.
Like carrageenan and guar gum, gellan gum acts as a stabilizer, thickener, and binder in processed foods. Gellan gum is especially useful for stabilizing water-based gels like pudding, flan, and jellies by preventing the liquids from separating from the solids.
What foods and drinks is gellan gum in?
You can find gellan gum in a variety of processed foods and drinks, such as:
- Plant-based milks and non-dairy drinks
- Bakery products and dessert fillings (e.g. fruit pie filling, custard filling in donuts, etc.)
- Salad dressings and sauces
- Ice cream, sorbet, etc.
- Jams and jellies
Gellan gum is a popular vegan alternative to gelatin, which is made from the bones of cattle and is therefore not vegan-friendly.
Is gellan gum safe to consume?
Gellan gum is “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the United States Food and Drug Administration. It’s considered safe to eat and is used in such small amounts that it isn’t likely to cause any adverse effects.
Is gellan gum allowed on special diets?
Gellan gum is gluten-free, vegan, and suitable for special diets like keto, Whole30, and Paleo. (Carrageenan isn’t Whole30-approved, so some manufacturers [like Almond Breeze’s almond milk] replaced carrageenan with guar gum to make it Whole30-compliant!)
Gellan gum has been used as a food additive for many decades and is considered safe to consume. There isn’t any scientific evidence suggesting that gellan gum could be detrimental to your health.
The overwhelming evidence is that gellan gum is safe to consume, with no evidence of any adverse health effects. Gellan gum is used in very small quantities, which is another reason it isn’t likely to be problematic.
Gellan gum is a popular additive in plant-based milks because it helps suspend the solid parts in the liquid (emulsifying), providing a smoother, creamier texture. Without the use of emulsifiers and stabilizers like gellan gum, there would be sediment at the bottom of the almond milk carton (from the solid parts of the ground almonds), which isn’t appetizing at all!
Gellan gum isn’t likely to cause stomach problems because it’s used in very small quantities as a food additive. If you did experience stomach issues from gellan gum, you might experience symptoms like abdominal bloating, gas, or other mild symptoms.