Gelatin is a gelling agents derived from collagen which is the main protein in mammals. Chemically gelatin typically consists of 90% protein and approximately 10% water and only traces of salts. Gelatin has received designation E441.
Gelatin is used in many different areas but mainly in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Typical products that contain gelatin are candy and pharmaceutical capsules as well as various health preparations where gelatin is used as a protein supplement. Worldwide, about 300 000 tons of gelatin is manufactured and used per year.
University students who are about to prepare their research paper on gelatin must understand that it is also used to bind the silver halide crystals in camera film. For this task, there are no suitable replacements. Competition Swimmers use gelatin to fix their hair during training and competition, this is because the cold water does not dissolve the gelatin.
The building blocks of different types of protein are amino acids. Our body can build the proteins we need, but there are ten so-called essential amino acids that must be included in the food, which the body itself cannot form. Nine of these essential amino acids found in gelatin. Gelatin is also used as part of blood plasma replacement during major blood loss in accidents, etc.
Gelatin is also used as an ingredient in ballistic gel, which has the consistency and properties of mammalian tissue and used in the testing of firearms.
Gelatin has a variety of unique properties of which the most important is the ability to form thermoreversible gels i.e., it solidifies on cooling and melts at higher temperature which occurs within a narrow temperature range. For the food industry, these properties are important, especially when it comes to low-fat products of various kinds since the melting properties in the mouth are reminiscent of fat.
The most commonly occurring gelatin, commonly used in the food industry, is made of pigskin (that is, a pork product), but also a beef gelatin is common. The raw material comes from animal products, typically from animals bones and skin that veterinary control approved for human consumption. Protein (collagen) is derived from raw materials by hydrolysis, that is, it is extracted in hot water. The water with protein then goes through various stages of purification, desalination, thickening, sterilization, and drying. The legislation for gelatin production in Europe put high and detailed requirements for bacteriological and chemical purity.
There are special types of gelatin produced to conform with Islam Halal rules or the Jewish kashrut rules.
Because of mad cow disease (BSE) and its link to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, there has previously been some concern about the possibility that the infected animal parts may be included in the production of gelatin but has proven to be entirely without risk. A study conducted in 2004 has shown both to commodity standards set detailed conditions and that the process used for gelatin production destroys any BSE prions. According to WHO, SSC, and the EU gelatin is safe to consume from that point.
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