Gum acacia (Acacia senegal / Acacia seyal)


Acacia gum also known as gum Arabic is a natural exudate from acacia trees, mainly collected from the Sahelian zone of the African continent. World market for acacia gum is around 60 000 metric tons, which makes it one of the largest hydrocolloid used as food additive by the industries (food, pharmaceutical and technical).

Acacia gum –INS 414; E 414; GRAS 21CFR 1841330; European Pharmacopeae 01/2005:0307;308 – is defined by the regulation as “dried exudate obtained from the stems and branches of strains of Acacia Senegal (L) Willdenow or closely related species of Acacia ( family Leguminosae)(EC Regulation 231/2012 ).

More precisely, in 1999 at the 53th Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee session, acacia gum has been defined as “dried exudates obtained from the stems and branches of Acacia senegal or Acacia seyal “.

Gum exudes naturally after taping during the dry season (december to may) and is harvested by farmers. The raw gum consists on hard nodules with various sizes and colours.

To supply the industry with standardised, reliable and pure qualities, raw gum has to be purified.

Purification can be done using dry steps such as selection, kibbling, sieving and mechanical pulverisation of raw gum to produce a fine powder easily soluble in water.

Better purification is obtained by treatment in water solution; after dissolution  in water, insoluble matters ( mineral and vegetable ) are removed by filtrations and bacteriological quality standardised by sterilisation of the gum syrup. Then water is evaporated by spraydrying and a pure, standardised acacia gum is produced.

Acacia gum is a highly branched arabinogalactan polysaccharide giving low viscosity in water solution. Using the latest analytical techniques applicable to polysaccharides, the complex structure of acacia gum is closed to be elucidated which makes more predictable the relations structure/functionality.

When used as food additive, acacia gum is a texturiser, thickener, stabiliser, emulsifier and coating agent. Such variety of functions with a single product is unique. When used as ingredient for it’s health benefits, acacia gum is a dietary fibre with prebiotic effects.

The health benefits of acacia gum are given by the non digestible behaviour of the high molecular weight molecule. Acacia gum is a dietary fibre (more than 90 % on dry basis) with high gut tolerance and prebiotic effect. Low viscosity in water system, low calorific value (1,8 – 2 kcal/g) and non-cariogenic effect  explain the wide field of applications in dietary food and nutraceutical products.