Tara gum is essentially a “natural” product because it comes from a plant that grows in South America under the name Caesalpinia spinosa lin. Also known as a tara tree, which can grow as a shrub or tree. It also occurs in Morocco and East Africa. Gum containers are made by milling endosperm seeds by mechanical methods.
Gum packaging has been approved as a thickener for use in many products. Some of them are dairy products such as cheese, cream, and ice cream, but can also be added to other products such as pickles, baked goods, cereals, mustard, dried fruits and vegetables, soups, and more.
Tara gum is a galactomannan, structurally similar to guar gum and leguminous gum, is a white or yellowish powder that is soluble in hot water and sparingly soluble in cold water.
Chemically, it consists of polysaccharides, mainly galactomannans, with a high molecular weight.
Gum can replace carrageenan and xanthan gum up to 50% and exhibits synergistic effects with other gums such as agar-agar, carboxymethyl cellulose and modified starch.
E417 is soluble in solution and reaches maximum viscosity in water, milk and other low-solids systems within minutes.
Like siliculose gum, it acts synergistically with carrageenan and xanthan gum to increase the strength of the gel and makes such gels less prone to spontaneous reduction in volume and compression.
Use and application
At the moment, containers of gum are more and more used. The increasing demand for low-calorie food products is increasing its worldwide demand.
It was noted that rising prices for guar gum is the main factor responsible for the growth of the global market for gum containers, as it was adopted as a possible replacement for guar gum.
It is expected that a higher demand for containers of gum in the baby food segment will also contribute to the revitalization of the global market for this food supplement in the next few years.
Due to its consistency of hydrocolloid nature, it is easily soluble in water.
It is mainly used to increase gel viscosity and food consistency. Due to the characteristics mentioned above, gum containers are used:
- as a stabilizer: in sauces and salad dressings;
- as a thickener: in ice cream, confectionery, and dairy products;
- as an emulsifier: in the manufacture of mayonnaise and toothpaste;
- as a gelling agent: in jams, jellies, sweets, dairy products and canned meat; ;
- as a retention agent: in the paper industry (increased retention in fine fiber and improved printability).
E417 is also used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and livestock industries.
Tara gum is extracted from the seeds of the tara tree (C. spinosa L.). Which grows mainly in Peru. There are two different methods for removing husks. In the first method, the husk is carbonized by treating cores with moderately diluted sulfuric acid at elevated temperatures.
The remaining husk fragments are removed after washing and cleaning. After the drying stage, the purified nuclei are cracked and the nuclei are separated from the endosperm.
In another method, the seeds are roasted in a rotary kiln, after which their husks fall off. Then the endosperm is obtained as described above. This process, which avoids the use of sulfuric acid, produces products with slightly different colors than the acid process (Ullmann, 2007).
The test team noted that this firing process can generate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and also noted that the limits for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are not taken into account in the specifications.
Separation of the endosperm of container seeds can also be performed manually. The endosperm obtained under these conditions can make up to 27% of the total seed weight.
Depending on the production process, some residual enzymatic activity (amylase, galactosidase, mannosidase) may be present in the containers of gum.
Food Additive Safety
Tara gum is a relatively new food supplement, therefore there is little data about it, but the presence of toxic effects in animals has been carefully studied. The researchers conducted multiple 90-day trials in rats and mice with gum containers in the form of a 5% diet and did not find side effects other than weight loss in the experimental groups.
Studies of the reproductive function of rats of three generations and studies of genotoxicity did not reveal the harmful effects of gum containers. In two-year carcinogenicity tests, the experimental groups had more tumors than the control groups, but because of the "high spontaneous frequency" of this particular tumor and the fact that almost all control mice also developed a tumor, the researchers concluded that this was not the result of the addition of containers of gum.
Data on its toxicity is not very convincing, since studies have not been conducted in humans. This does not mean that it is unsafe, because the available data testify to this; it just means that there is not enough data on its safety and you need to continue research, as well as be careful with new nutritional supplements.