Gum Arabic, also known as Acacia Gum, is unique among the natural gums because of its extreme solubility in water and its lack of taste. As a food additive, it has been extensively tested and appears to be one of the safest for human consumption. Gum arabic is mainly used in the confectionery industry, where it is incorporated in glazes and artificial whipped creams, gum arabic keeps flavor oils and fats uniformly distributed, retards crystallization of sugar, thickens chewing gums and jellies, and gives soft candies a desirable mouth feel. In cough drops and lozenges, gum arabic soothes irritated mucous membranes. Many dry-packaged products, such as instant drinks, dessert mixes and soup bases, use it to enhance the shelf life of flavors. Due to its stability in acid conditions and its high solubility, gum arabic helps citrus and other oil-based flavors remain evenly suspended in water-based beverages. Gum arabic is used increasingly as a source of soluble fiber in low- calorie and dietetic beverages. Gum arabic is an effective encapsulation agent because of its high water solubility, low viscosity, and emulsification properties and it is used in soups and dessert mixes (Verbeken, 2003).
Gum arabic was once extensively used in the pharmaceutical industry, but it is now replaced by celluloses and modified starches in many applications. It is still used as a suspending agent, emulsifier, adhesive, and binder in tablet and in demulcent syrups (Getachew and Wubalem, 2004). In cosmetics, gum arabic functions as a stabilizer in lotions and protective creams, where it increases viscosity, imparts spreading properties, and provides a protective coating and a smooth feel. It is used as an adhesive agent in blusher and as a foam stabilizer in liquid soaps (Whistler, 1993). In the textile industry, it is used as a thickening agent in printing pastes for the coloration of knitted cellulose fabrics. Other applications are ink and pigment manufacture, ceramics, and polishes, heat and shear sensitivity of the gum (Verbeken, 2003).
Author: Raqib Zaman