Gum Arabic is used in food as a stabilizer, thickener, and emulsifier to add cohesive texture. This product also can be used as a bulking agent and thickening agent. By holding the ingredients together its used in curries, desserts, ice creams, and salad dressings among other food products.
Gum Arabic or Gum Acacia or Gum Tragacanth (Latin) is a natural polysaccharide derived from acacia trees. It is used as a functional food additive in a variety of food and non food products but mainly as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickening agent in foods.
What is gum arabic?
Gum arabic definition
Gum arabic is a natural gum, obtained from the acacia tree. It is a polysaccharide made up of galactose sugars and rhamnose sugars. It is often used as a food additive, emulsifier and stabilizer, especially in soft drinks.
Sodium alginate is a viscous substance consisting mainly of high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and their calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts.
The main components of gum arabic are polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Arabinogalactan makes up about 90% of the gum, while arabinogalactan-protein makes up about 10%.
The main monomeric units in polymer when hydrolysis and their percentages are as follows:
- L-arabinose (31.7–53.1%)
- L-rhamnose (2.7–16.3%),
- D-glucuronic acid (5.3–14.0%)
- 4-O-methyl-glucuronic acid (0.8–5.2%)
- Protein (1.5-3.0%)
It is a highly branched three-dimensional structure consisting of a b-1,3-linked D-galactose core with extensive branching through 3- and 6-linked galactose and 3-linked arabinose.
Two grades of gum arabic
Arabic gum is usually divided into two types based on the two tree sources: acacia senegal (hashab grade) and acacia seyal (talha grade).
Hashab grade gum arabic is produced from the bark of the acacia senegal tree. The raw gum is harvested in spring when the sap rises and flows from incisions made in the trunk of the tree. This process allows more water to enter into the tree, causing it to swell and thus making it easier for people to scrape off the bark without harming the plant itself.
Acacia senegal gum has a high quality with a light color and fine texture. It has no odor, is not sticky when wet, does not easily dissolve in water and can be mixed with other materials without affecting their properties.
What is gum arabic powder?
Gum arabic powder is a natural gum extracted from the bark of the acacia tree. It is used in many food products, confectionery and pharmaceuticals.
Gum arabic powder is also known as gum acacia or acacia gum. It’s a soluble fiber that acts as a thickening agent in foods and beverages. Gum arabic powder is also used to stabilize emulsions such as mayonnaise and salad dressings, prevent ice crystals from forming in frozen desserts and help prevent bread from rising while baking.
Gum arabic powder has been used since ancient times as a food additive and thickener in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s also used in parts of Asia, where it’s called Arabic gum or Chicle (the Mayan word for chewing gum)
What gum arabic used for?
Gum arabic is used as a thickening agent, emulsifier and stabilizing agent in foods such as ice cream, candy and baked goods. It prevents sugar crystallization and improves texture.
Gum arabic helps maintain moisture content in fruits and vegetables during freezing or drying by forming a protective layer around them. It also helps stabilize foam when adding whipped cream to hot beverages or desserts.
Gum arabic is used as an emulsifier in lotions, hair products, toothpaste and other personal care items to help keep oil and water components blended together.
In photography, gum arabic acts as an anti-fogging agent for negatives, helping them dry quickly after processing so they can be exposed to light again immediately for printing or viewing purposes.
How does gum arabic work?
Gum arabic is a natural gum made from the hardened sap of various species of the acacia tree. It’s used as a thickener and stabilizer in food, and as an adhesive for paper and cloth.
Gum arabic is a complex mixture of polysaccharides that contains glucose, galactose and rhamnose sugars. The individual sugars are linked together by glycosidic bonds to form large, branched chains. These chains have many hydroxyl groups on them, which are reactive with other molecules.
When mixed with water, gum arabic forms a weak solution called a colloidal dispersion — this means that the gum particles remain suspended in solution without dissolving completely. This allows them to be used as thickeners or emulsifiers in foods such as ice cream or salad dressing.
The hydroxyl groups on gum arabic are also able to react with proteins in foods such as egg whites or milk to form complexes called gums. These gums help stabilize these foods so they don’t separate into their various components during processing or storage (for example, cooking eggs).
Four forms of gum arabic
Gum arabic can be classified into four forms according to the degree of the manufacturing process: raw material, middle, powdered, and spray-dried.
1. Raw gum arabic
Raw gum arabic is a natural product obtained through manual treatment of the lumps, In food applications, it is mainly used for confectionery and wine.
2. Kibbled acacia gum
Kibbled acacia gum is ground acacia gum that has been pulverized into small granules to improve its flowability. The wood and bark particles and other foreign materials can be removed from kibbled gum after it has been ground. It is traditionally used in confectioneries as an acacia gum substitute.
3. Powdered acacia gum
Powdered acacia gum is a fine powder produced by grinding kibbled acacia gum, which resembles flour. Powdered acacia gum is used as a coating on candies in confectionery production; and in pharmaceutical applications requiring special powder density for pills.
4. Spray-dried Acacia gum
Acacia gum is a pure form of the gum. It is used most often in food products, but it can also be used as an adhesive and in pharmaceutical formulations.
How is it made of?
Acacia gum is the product of a bacterial or fungal infection on an Acacia tree, typically a wild tree, but also cultivated gardens. A combination of drought, heat, and poor nutrition stimulates unhealthy trees to create this gum.
The following are the steps in the manufacturing process of gum arabic powder.
Farmers in West and South Sudan tap the two species of arabic trees, acacia senegal and acacia seyal, during autumn. Their process involves cutting small holes in the bark so that glue-like sap can seep out.
The gum arabic nodules are dried in the sun for a few days to make them ready for use.
The dried gum is then cleaned by hand to remove bark fibers and other impurities.
Dry puriﬁcation processing
To remove vegetable and mineral impurities, a process called kibbling, sieving, and pulverization is used.
Aqueous solution purification
It is much more efficient to do this. Dissolve the gum in water and pass it through a series of filters to remove impurities.
The most common method of producing acacia gum today is spray drying, which can retain all the properties of the raw gum. Roller drying (also known as drum drying) reduces its emulsifying properties by exposing it to drastic thermal treatment.
Acacia gum can be concentrated by either roller drying or spray drying. However, the latter method is more common. It can produce acacia gum that has less water content than acacia gum produced by roller drying (less than 10% loss on dry basis versus 15% loss on dry basis).
Acacia gum is a white or yellowish-white spheroidal substance with different sizes. It is also available in the form of ﬂakes, granular powder or spray-dried powder.
The polysaccharide is a multifunctional hydrocolloid that is cold water soluble. Ethanol is insoluble in 1g. It dissolves in 2 mL of cold water.
Unlike CMC, it has a low viscosity, and its viscosity of 30% gum arabic solution at low shear rates is less than 1%.
What are the applications of gum arabic?
Acacia gum is used in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals as a thickener, emulsifier, and binding agent. It is valued not only for its functional benefits but also for its contribution of dietary fiber.
Gum arabic is widely used in food production, such as in bakery, confectionery, beverages, and dairy products. The majority of gum arabic is used in the food industry for emulsification, encapsulation and coating purposes.
Gum arabic is generally used in the baking industry for its low water absorption and high viscoelastic properties, which give baked goods a longer shelf life.
The ingredient can be used for emulsion stabilization, to impart smoothness, to increase dough height, and to increase bread volume.
Vegetarians and people allergic to eggs can use it instead of eggs to create an attractive glossy coating.
As a result, it reduces the formation of ice crystals in frozen dough.
Improves the rollability and water retention of tortillas.
Gum arabic can be used in confectionery as a glaze or coating, such as in chocolate, candies, and chewing gum. In general, sugar crystallization is prevented, the texture is modified, the emulsion is stabilized, and the fatty components are evenly distributed.
The following advantages make gum arabic suitable for use in soft drinks:
- There will be no change in the beverage’s overall viscosity due to its low viscosity.
- Excellent aqueous solubility.
- Stable across a wide PH range.
- In oil in water emulsions, it serves as a stabilizer.
- Enhance the stability of foam in beer and soft drinks.
- In winemaking, it is used as a fining/clarifying agent.
- It is low in calories.
- Encapsulates flavor as a carrier.
It is reported that guar gum can be used as a film forming and masking agent in cosmetic and personal care products, according to the European Commission’s cosmetic substances and ingredients database.
- facial moisturizer
- body wash
- liquid hand soap
- hair spray
- lipstick and others
According to the EFSA, acacia gum is used in pharmaceuticals as an excipient, e.g. for suspending, emulsifying, adhering, and binding, when making tablets and demulcent syrups.
Traditionally, gum arabic has been used as a binder in watercolor paint because it can dissolve easily in water. Other pigments are suspended in acacia gum to produce watercolors.
Is it safe to eat gum arabic?
Yes, Gum arabic is a natural gum that comes from the sap of the acacia tree. It’s been used in food products for centuries and has been considered safe to consume. However, it’s not known to be safe for people with allergies to wheat or gluten.
Gum arabic added directly to human food was declared generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA. It can be found in the following foods and at the following maximum levels (from high to low):
- Soft candy: 85.0%
- Cough drops and hard candy: 46.5%
- Confections and frostings: 12.4%
- Nuts and nut products: 8.3%
- Quiescently frozen confection products: 6.0%
- Chewing gum: 5.6%
- Snack foods: 4.0%
- Gelatins, puddings, and fillings: 2.5%
- Beverages and beverage bases: 2.0%
- Fats and oils: 1.5%
- Dairy product analogs: 1.3%
- All other food categories: 1.0%
Also approved by the FDA are the following applications. Besides the properties listed above, gum arabic can also be used as a dietary fiber.
- Breakfast cereals
- The following foods are considered to be grain-based snacks: brownies, biscuits, muffins, and cookies.
- Soups and soup mixes
European Food Safety Authority
The European Union (EU) has approved Acacia Gum (E 414) as a food additive in accordance with Annex II and Annex III of Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives.
Re-evaluation The Safety In 2017
According to EFSA, the refined exposure assessment of acacia gum (E 414) as a food additive does not raise any safety concerns for the general population in terms of genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity.
There are approved applications listed separately in E414 and in Group I where quantum satis (QS) is used.
The following foods may contain it:
- Cocoa and Chocolate Confectionary
- Table-top sweeteners
- Foods made from cereals and foods for babies
- Beer and malt beverages
UK Food Standards Agency
It acts as an emulsifier, stabilizer, thickener, and gelling agent.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand
A code number 414 identifies it as an approved ingredient in Australia and New Zealand.
Function Class: a food additive, emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener.
ADI: Since 1989, ADI has not been specified.
What are the health benefits of gum arabic ?
Also known as acacia fiber, acacia gum is a natural substance derived from acacia trees. Besides its functional properties, it is a source of soluble dietary fiber that helps maintain a healthy diet. 1.8-2.0 kcal/g makes it a low calorie ingredient.
FDA has not approved it as a fiber source. In the US, TIC Gum, the supplier of gum arabic, provides detailed information on its status as a dietary fiber.
The following fibers are currently on FDA’s list:
Following is a list of 6 health benefits for our bodies.
1. Prebiotic functionality
According to a study published in 2008, gum arabic has a prebiotic function at least as good as inulin.
Acacia gum (at a dose of 10 g/d) increases Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli, and total lactic acid in a study published in 2015.
2. Relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
According to a study published in 2012, combining acacia fiber with B. lactis in yogurt is more effective at treating IBS than standard yogurt.
3. Lower cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the leading cause of coronary artery disease, can be reduced by soluble dietary fiber.
4. Diabetes type II risk is low
Based on a study published in 2013, insoluble fiber intake may help lower the risk of type II diabetes, while soluble fiber had no such effect.
5. Control weight
According to a study in 2018, 91 type 2 diabetic patients who consumed 30 grams of gum Arabic (acacia senegal) per day for 3 months were able to prevent weight gain.
6. Reduce glucose index
Researchers in Sudan found that gum Arabic (acacia senegal) significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose levels among 120 patients with type 2 diabetes from August 2014 to February 2015.
What are the possible side effects of gum arabic ?
Gum arabic is one of the most commonly used food additives. It is a natural polymer, which makes it a great binding agent. Gum arabic has been used for centuries and is still used in many products today. You will find gum arabic in candy, ice cream, toothpaste, shampoo and food coloring.
The main side effects of gum arabic are an allergic reaction or irritation of the mouth (mouth ulcers). Gum arabic can also slow down the healing process of cuts and wounds on your lips if you have an allergy to it.
Gum arabic can cause diarrhea and constipation if you have too much of this product in your diet. Some people experience stomach cramps or nausea after eating too much gum arabic as well.
Other side effects
There are few side effects associated with it, and it is generally safe.
Is it safe to pregnant?
A study by the European Food Safety Authority found that gum arabic has no adverse effect on female fertility in mice, rats, hamsters, or rabbits.
How to use gum arabic in food?
Gum arabic has several uses in food preparation:
As an emulsifier: it helps to stabilize mixtures such as mayonnaise or chocolate sauces by preventing separation of oil from vinegar or water.
As a thickener: it is used to thicken jams and jellies. The gelling effect is similar to that of gelatin but does not need to be set with heat treatment.
To prevent syneresis (the separation of liquid from solids) in fruit-based products such as jams and marmalades.
To prevent crystallization (solidification) in candies such as marshmallows and fondant (fondant icing).
Frequently asked questions
Is gum arabic safe?
Gum arabic is safe for humans because it can be digested by the body and its metabolites are excreted through urine and feces within 24 hours. It does not accumulate in the body or cause any other health problems. It does not have any known side effects either. Although it is considered safe on its own, there have been reports of some people having allergic reactions to gum arabic, but these are very rare.
Where to buy gum arabic?
Gum arabic is a natural ingredient that is readily available in grocery stores and specialty food shops. It can also be purchased online from Amazon or ebay.
Is gum arabic natural?
Yes, Gum arabic is a natural substance that’s harvested from the acacia tree. It’s traditionally used in the production of food, including candy, gum and boiled sweets.
Is gum arabic a thickener?
Gum Arabic is a thickener used to thicken water-based products, such as paint and adhesives. It is also used as a binder in food products like candies, syrups, jams and jellies.
Is gum acacia bad for you?
Gum acacia is a natural substance that has been used since biblical times as a sweetener and flavoring agent in foods. It is harvested from the acacia tree and can be found in most grocery stores. Gum acacia is made up of about 1% to 3% of the tree’s sap, which is collected, dried, and ground into a powder. Although it’s not recommended that you consume large amounts of gum acacia at one time, it’s generally considered safe to use on a daily basis when consumed in small amounts.
Is it Halal?
Yes, As far as Muslim policy is concerned, it is generally recognized as halal.
Is it Kosher?
Yes, it is pareve kosher. Kashruth requirements have been met and it can be certified as kosher.
Is it Gluten free?
Yes, Based on FDA definitions of gluten-free food, gum arabic is gluten-free as it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains.
Is it Vegan?
Yes, it is vegan. The manufacturing process of gum arabic is free of animal matter and products derived from animals. It is a natural gum derived from the acacia tree. Therefore, vegetarian diets can use it.
Which substitutes are available for Gum Arabic?
Some food applications can also use alternative thickeners, such as xanthan gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, or guar gum.
There has been a lot of controversy and confusion over the use of this ingredient across the board, with different countries behaving differently. It is important that we ensure what we are eating and drinking is safe for us. These facts should give you a clear understanding of the potential benefits associated with this ingredient, as well as the risks. If you want to know more about the safety profile for this ingredient, please ask your supplier and always be vigilant about what you are eating or drinking when in doubt.
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