Whether part of trends like clean label, clear label, or ingredient transparency, a growing number of consumers are reading food labels and asking about the ingredients inside. Names like gum arabic, xanthan gum, or locust bean gum may not be familiar to consumers who may then search for information online or in popular media; unfortunately, the information they find maybe inaccurate or misleading. Our Basics of Food Gums video series seeks to demystify this class of common food ingredients. Subscribe to the series

Videos in the Basics of Food Gums Series

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>>PATRICK: Hello everyone and welcome to the Basics of Food Gums. I’m Matt Patrick and this is Maureen Akins and we are going to be your guides through this exploration of a seldom recognized but highly useful food ingredient: Hydrocolloids or Food Gums.

>>AKINS: So do you ever wonder why you find an ingredient like Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum on your food label? That’s the kind of question we’re going to tackle in this video.

>>AKINS: With any topic of discussion, we have to start with some sort of foundation. So here’s a little background on food gums before we dive deeper.

Common food gums chart

>>PATRICK: Gums are sourced from all over the world. US, Spain, Italy, Chile, Africa, Japan, just to name a few. In Food Science, gums belong to the Hydrocolloids category, along with other ingredients like proteins and starches. The name Hydrocolloid originates from the Greek “hydro”, meaning water, and “colloid”, meaning glue-like; having the ability to form a glue-like characteristic in water.

>>AKINS: If you want to get really technical, it’s a homogeneous, non-crystalline substance consisting of large molecules or microscopic particles of one substance dispersed through a second substance. We could spend hours covering this in much more detail and put a considerable amount of us to sleep so we’ll leave it at that for now.

>>PATRICK: There are many benefits to using Hydrocolloids in food. They provide stability, viscosity, texture and even fiber to the products that incorporate them. Additionally, they’re used to create gels, films, and in many cases are used as an emulsifier, which is a technical way of expressing the ability to bind “unmixable” substances together; like oil and water for example. Another benefit provided by hydrocolloids is viscosity, which some refer to as “thickness” or how “thick” a product is. But that’s just one of many benefits.