What Is Gellan Gum & Is It OK To Eat?

What Is Gellan Gum - Ingreland
Gellan gum is a food additive that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly among those who follow a plant-based or vegan diet. This substance is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in a wide range of products, from vegan milk to sports drinks. However, some people are still uncertain about what gellan gum is and whether it’s safe to eat.  In this article, we’ll delve into the origins, composition, and safety considerations of gellan gum, with a special focus on the high-quality product offered by Ingreland.

Where does Gellan come from?

Typical gellan comes from glucose, but other sugars can also be used to produce this additive. For example, lactose can make larger quantities of slightly less stable gellan gum compared to glucose. Regardless, gellan gum doesn’t form simply in the presence of sugar. In fact, the main driving force behind the production of gellan is a type of bacteria called Sphingomonas elodea. As the sugars ferment, the bacteria proliferate, and the end result is gellan. Gellan gum generally has two types depending on how many acetate groups are joined to the gellan polymer. If the gellan gum is low in acyl content, the gellan forms a firm and brittle gel. High-acyl gellan forms an elastic, soft gel.

What is Gellan Gum?

Trying to understand the list of additives in your food sometimes feels like learning another language. When it comes to gellan gum, though, you can put the textbooks away and simply read this article. The simplest definition of gellan gum is that it’s a food additive. Like many food additives, the story is more complex than that. Specifically, it is a polysaccharide: a collection of sugar molecules. There are many types of sugar molecules, including glucose, lactose, and sucrose.

What is Gellan Gum Made Of?

Gellan gum is made of a repeating unit of four sugar molecules: glucose, glucuronic acid, rhamnose, and acetyl. The exact composition and arrangement of these sugar molecules determine the properties of the gellan gum, including its ability to form a gel. Gellan gum can be produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which may be a concern for some consumers. However, there are also companies that produce gellan gum using non-GMO bacteria. If you are concerned about the production methods of gellan gum in the products you consume, it may be helpful to contact the manufacturer or look for products that use non-GMO gellan gum.

Uses of Gellan Gum

Gellan gum has many uses, and more uses are being discovered even now. Gellan gum as a food additive Gellan gum acts as a thickening and gelling ingredient in foods. It can improve the texture of your food and make it last longer on the shelf. Gellan gum is similar to agar, gelatin, or xanthan gum. It makes jelly fillings gooey and custard fillings creamy. Gellan gum has a higher melting point than gelatin and agar but a lower melting point than xanthan gum. It melts at 230 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can play a unique role in the consistency of some desserts. Since gellan is the result of the fermentation of sugar and bacteria rather than an animal product, it’s a great vegan substitute for gelatin. Gellan gum in medicine Gellan gum has been incorporated into the medical field in recent years. Some of the many medical uses of gellan gum include:
  • Delayed-release medications
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Dentistry
Gellan gum is often mixed with other chemicals, though, to enhance its gelling property in medications. Otherwise, gellan gum’s high melting and gelling temperatures can prove to be less than ideal. Gellan gum also isn’t suited for affecting viscosity in medications, but it does slow a medication’s release rate. Gellan gum compounds have also been used to promote tissue regeneration and wound healing. A mixture of gellan gum and collagen, for instance, is used to ease inflammation and help heal burn wounds. Gellan gum in restoration Gellan gum also has applications in the field of historical conservation. Restoration specialists use a process called “wet cleaning” to clean and preserve paper products. This is a delicate process that has the potential to permanently damage ancient pieces of history. That’s where gellan gum comes into play. Gellan gum is used to create a hydrogel, a water-based polymer that has a more controlled, gel-like quality because of the gellan gum. Hydrogel is able to adapt to the ancient surfaces of the paper to safely remove dirt and debris.

Is Gellan Gum bad for you?

Gellan gum has many benefits, and at this point, it has been deemed safe and seems to have no negative health effects when properly formulated. What the law says The Code of Federal Regulations has specified the criteria for gellan gum to be safe in food. It outlines the exact molecular structure, the bacteria to be used for fermentation, and more. These regulations ensure that the gellan gum used in products is held to a high standard. There should be no question about the quality of your food additives. What research says In 2018, a European organization called The Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) took a second look at gellan gum. They examined decades of research dating back to 1990, when gellan was first assessed in Europe. Since then, gellan has appeared in many more places that were not initially examined. Some studies tested the effects of massive amounts of ingested gellan, much more than you’ll find in your favorite jelly sweets. Even when ingested in large amounts, though, gellan never proved to be toxic or dangerous. If you’re still concerned about gellan gum, though, simply keep up to date with new discoveries in case some level of toxicity is reported.


Gellan gum has been used for almost half a century, and for good reason. It’s an incredibly effective additive used in both food and medicine. It’s been considered safe nearly as long as it’s been around. You should always double-check for additives in the food you eat, but you don’t have to worry about gellan gum.

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