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Common Edible Gums and Their Application in Meat Products

Common Edible Gums and Their Application in Meat Products


Edible gum is a widely used food additive in the world, and it is used in almost all food products. The application of gelling agent in food industry can improve the quality of meat products, increase the adhesion and water retention, give the products good taste, and also improve the yield of meat products. Therefore, edible gum is an indispensable element in meat processing.  Currently, there are many types of edible gums used in meat products, mostly extracted from plants, algae, microorganisms and animals.

Common Edible Gums and Their Application in Meat Products

I. Gelling agent carrageenan

Carrageenan is currently the most commonly used edible gum in meat food, which can retain 10 to 20 times its own weight in water. Gelling agent carrageenan has good solubility, and it is the only natural gum with protein reactivity.

Since carrageenan can combine with protein and form a huge network structure, it can keep a large amount of water in meat products, reduce the loss of meat juice, and form good elasticity and toughness. Carrageenan also has a good emulsifying effect and stabilizes fat, thus improving the yield of products. In addition, carrageenan can prevent the loss of salt-soluble protein and actin, and inhibit the leaching of fresh flavor components.

II. Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum, also known as Xanthomonas polysaccharide and Hansen gum, is odorless, non-toxic, safe for consumption, resistant to acid and alkali and high salt, with high temperature and enzymatic resistance, and is one of the most superior biological gums in the world. Xanthan gum is a water-soluble gum, which is the most characteristic one of several microbial polysaccharides being developed at home and abroad, and is also the world's largest production scale and most widely used microbial polysaccharide.

Common Edible Gums and Their Application in Meat Products

Xanthan gum has the function of thickening, suspending, emulsifying and stabilizing. The low concentration of xanthan gum solution has the characteristic of high viscosity (the viscosity of 1% xanthan gum solution is equivalent to 100 times of gelatin), which is an efficient thickening agent. Xanthan gum is widely used in various meat products. The use of xanthan gum in ham, luncheon meat, red sausage and other minced meat products can significantly improve the water-holding, tenderness, color and flavor of the product. The dosage in ham is generally about 1%, and in luncheon meat and red sausage the dosage is generally 0.1% to 0.5%.

III. Guar gel

Guar gel is generally white to light yellow-brown powder, neutral polysaccharide, without any odor. It can be fully hydrated by soaking in cold water for 1 to 2 hours, and can be dispersed in hot or cold water to form a viscous liquid with the highest viscosity among natural gums. However, long time high temperature treatment will lead to the degradation of guar gum itself and make its viscosity decrease. In the range of pH3.5 to 10, the gum solution is not obviously affected, and in the range of pH6 to 8, its solution viscosity can reach the maximum.

Guar gel is mainly used as thickener, binder and water-holding agent in meat products, usually used alone or in combination with other edible gums. It is slightly inferior to xanthan gum and other microbial gums in terms of heat and acid resistance, but it is one of the most widely used hydrophilic gums in the world because of its low price.

IV. Edible gelatin

Gelatin is a colloidal protein extracted from animal bones, skins, tendons or connective tissues, and is an incomplete protein. It can improve the taste and nutritional value of the products in meat processing. Gelatin has emulsifying, thickening and color protecting effects in meat processing, which can improve the yield of the products. The recommended amount of gelatin for food use is not more than 5%. For example, the addition of 2% edible gelatin to ham and canned goods can result in a smooth surface with good transparency.

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