Do You Know What Your Chewing Gum Contains?
Progressive Grocer|December 2019
For many people, chewing gum is not only a way to control food cravings or pass the time, it’s a way of life! Unfortunately, not many know about the adulterants found in chewing gum, the use of artificial additives, and their effect on our health.
Dr Saurabh Arora

Do you know that every time you pop your favourite chewing gum in your mouth, you could actually be chewing a secretion from sheep’s wool? Yes, that’s right! It has been found that chewing gum contains lanolin, which is a waxy secretion from the sebaceous glands of the skin of sheep. Its function is to make sheep’s wool waterproof. For this reason, lanolin is generally an ingredient in skin products, which is fine. But using it as an ingredient in chewing gum? Moreover, since lanolin is present as a component of chewing gum base (the rubbery substance that imparts the “chewable” characteristic to chewing gum), which is regarded as a normal industry standard, manufacturers do not need to reveal its individual ingredients. Therefore, the innocent-looking chewing gum might not be as innocuous as you thought!

What goes into making chewing gum?

Chewing gum is typically composed of gum base, softeners, sweeteners and flavours. These are briefly discussed below.

Gum Base: As indicated earlier, the gum base is rubbery in nature, and used to be derived from latex sap (called chicle) of the sapodilla tree. Other natural sources include gum Arabic, natural resin, food-grade agar, chiku, ghatti, jhingan, khair, etc.

However, nowadays, with the advent of rubber synthesis technology, synthetic rubber is primarily used for making the gum base. These include: • Synthetic resin • Polyvinyl acetate • Polyethylene • Glycerol esters of wood resin/gum resin • Glycerol esters of partially hydrogenated wood/ gum resin

As has been indicated above, there are many components of gum base (besides lanolin) that remain unknown to the consumer, since the manufacturers have no intention of declaring about them, in the absence of any strict regulations that would force them to do so.

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