Gelatin is a tasteless, colorless, water-soluble protein derived from the hydrolytic degradation of collagen, that is the most naturally found protein in humans and animals (mainly contained skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments). Pig, cow, and fish collagens are the primary sources of gelatin, fish-based gelatin is a promising alternative to the mammalian gelatin.
Usually, its extraction protocol requires a boiling state or a hydrolysis reaction after the pretreatment. For its low cost and high availability, gelatin is common in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.
In food industry, gelatin is exploited as gelling, emulsifier, and thickener for various products (e.g., candy preparation, bakery products, desserts, ice cream, and meat products). In addition, gelatin can be used in edible film and coating material for its excellent film-forming capability and its nutritional value. In fact, collagen and gelatin derivates are used in various functional and nutritional foods, for example substituting fat and carbohydrate in certain nutritionally balanced food.
For its functional properties, including its water-binding ability, film- and foam-forming capacity, and emulsifying tendency, food industry also exploits gelatine as biodegradable packaging material, to protect, maintain, extend the shelf-life of food product due to its strong mechanical and barrier properties. Gelatin is considered a promising biopolymer for its good film-forming ability, biocompatibility, nontoxicity, abundance, transparency and potential use as a carrier of different compounds and additives.
In cosmetic field, gelatin is used as gelling agent in different products, e.g., bath salts, shampoos, sunscreens, body lotions, hair spray and facial cream, widely used also in skincare products. In general, collagen/gelatin derivates are used in the development of creams and gels with high moisturizing action, but also in products with anti-aging, antiwrinkling, UV radiation protectors, and healing of wounds among other applications. The film-forming properties help to protect the skin, covering the skin and decreasing the trans-epidermal water loss.
In general, it is possible to exploit gelatin in a wide range of formulations: in medical and pharmaceutical fields, gelatin is used for capsules and hydrogel, but also for nanomicrosphere containers, nanofibers, pharmaceutical additives and drug carriers.
Gelatin in the EcoeFISHent project
EcoeFISHent will develop, starting for gelatine extracted from Fish Processing Side-streams, a gas barrier biopolymer coating for packaging of oxidation sensitive food (e.g., meat, fish, cheese, etc.) to substitute conventionally used fossil barrier polymers, maintaining the desired functionality, sustainability, and nonharmful utility. The process will be scaled up to industrial pilot production to provide a compostable packaging for fish food.