HINDU demands for new laws to have gelatine made from beef byproducts labelled as such appear somewhat immaterial given many Australian food manufacturers already do that.
In fact, Australia’s largest gelatine producer, Gelita Australia, says its competitive advantage in Asian markets is the integrity of Australian beef and it actively promotes itself as a bovine gelatine factory.
The business is part of leading global collagen proteins supplier Gelita.
Vice President Asia Pacific Africa Josh Hemelaar said his industry was in full support of transparency in food labelling.
The Universal Society of Hinduism wants mandated use of the word beef where bovine gelatine is used in food, saying “Hindu devotees’ feelings would be severely hurt should they come to know they were inadvertently consuming beef-laced popular food products.”
Consumption of beef is highly conflicting to Hindu beliefs, which centre around the cow being sacred.
Mr Hemelaar said the risk with the introduction of more red tape, and publicity surrounding calls like this, was that manufacturers would perceive there were too many hoops to jump though and opt to be gelatine-free.
That would be a very negative outcome for the beef industry, with gelatine factories providing a solid market for hairy hides that do not make export leather markets.
It would also be negative for the consumer, as gelatine was used in hundreds of food products and its nutritional benefits to skin, bone and joint health were well-documented, Mr Hemelaar said.
Gelita produces more than 3000 metric tonnes of gelatine per annum at its Beaudesert, Queensland factory, sourcing hides from abattoirs up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
It supplies customers both in Australia and overseas.
All of its product is sold as edible gelatine, with 60 per cent going to the confectionery industry and the remainder mostly used in jelly crystal and dairy applications.
Mr Hemelaar said there was a growing consumer trend towards gelatine on the back of increased understanding of the nutritional values and its benefits as a supplement, including the amino acid profile.
“We are also seeing more and more demand specifically for Australian bovine gelatine due to reputation of Australian beef,” he said.
Religious Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has urged the Australian Government and food authorities to “seriously and urgently look into this issue affecting Hindu-Australians who have made a lot of contributions to the nation and society.”
“It would be shocking for the Australian Hindu community to learn that some of the popular food products which they have been eating for years might contain contain beef,” he said, using Kellogg’s as an example.
Kellogg’s Australia’s Caroline Neidhart said: “We’re a very small user of gelatin in Australia. Only some of our snacks products contain gelatin and it’s clearly labelled in ingredients lists.
“If consumers want further information on the source of any of our ingredients, they’re welcome to contact our consumer services team.”