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Gelatin Source

January 21, 2010

Reality Check investigates the urban legend that gelatin is made from cow hooves.


A gelatinous myth…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Here’s another episode of our new series, Reality Check, where we investigate paranormal claims, weird phenomena and science folklore. There’s a widespread belief that the gelatin you find in certain desserts comes from horse or cow hooves. Hooves contain the protein keratin, which also makes up your hair and nails, and gelatin was once even marketed as a treatment for brittle nails. But as it turns out, gelatin is actually made from a different protein, called collagen. Purdue food scientist Connie Weaver says that collagen is found in connective tissue.

CONNIE WEAVER (Purdue University):
Commercially, to get your jello products, they take some collagen-rich source like hides or de-mineralized bones or skin and such.

She adds that gelatin isn’t a very good source of protein, because it lacks key amino acids that would make it nutritionally complete. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.