A San Francisco start-up is working to create animal-free gelatin and market it straight to popular food companies that make gelatin products.
The gelatin of gummy bears, gummy worms, Jello-O, and many other delicious and sweet products may seem bright and innocent, but it has dark origins.
It’s a somewhat well-known fact that gelatin is not free of animal products, but what exactly is it composed of? It’s derived from boiled down bones and tissues of slaughtered animals, such as pigs, cows, and chickens.
So yes, it’s pretty gruesome considering how fun the gelatin products look and taste.
That’s why it’s such a relief that Alexander Lorestani and Nikolay Ouzounov, co-founders of Gelzen, Inc., are looking to find an alternative solution for gelatin and make it animal (and therefore cruelty) free.
The current system of scrounging up scraps leftover from agricultural animals to produce gelatin makes it a part of the cruel factory farming industry. The industry profits from other industries taking the scraps and this further encourages their production and mistreatment, although of course it’s not necessarily as directly related to the cruelty as producing cheese, meat, and milk.
Gelzen, a San Francisco start-up, began when Lorestani learned about the increasing risk of diseases caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Since more than 80% of antibiotics in the world are used for animal agriculture, he decided that making small steps in eliminating products made from animals would be rewarding for people’s health and the environment.
The pair of scientists is currently working to manufacture the gelatin in a lab rather than using products found and then used to form the gelatin in order to ensure that it is free of the dangerous bacteria.
For Lorestani and Ouzounoy’s gelatin, that means testing out gelatin made in a petri dish and letting microbes produce gelatin for them. To some consumers, the idea of food made in petri dishes is revolting, but it’s much cleaner and healthier to do so than to continue with the usual process.
Another fascinating part of their goal is that the duo doesn’t plan on making the product available directly for consumers; instead, they’ve approached food businesses that use gelatin in their own products and have marketed their animal-free gelatin to the business. They say that so far their idea has been well-received and garnered a positive response that has left them confident that they will be able to aid in replacing traditional gelatin in the marketplace with theirs.
When Lorestani spoke with Edible Manhattan, he said:
“We all need to be working together to build an ecosystem of companies making these products that combat disease as well as improve quality of taste, texture and usability. No one company can tackle this goal alone. What I’ve most enjoyed about this is working with other companies to essentially grow a new and good system.”
While Gelzen is another in a long line of small companies attempting to transform the food industry, whether it be factory farming or terrestrial farming, it’s important to remember that every food item that can be made in a more sustainable way is worth investing in. Animal agricultural is extremely harmful for animals, the environment, and consumers and it’s about time that companies step up to find alternatives.
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