Emes Holds Smoking Gun;
Emes Kosher Products is holding the smoking gun, a package of its own Kosher-Jel. Vegetarians in Paradise possesses undeniable laboratory evidence to show that Kosher-Jel "contains an animal-derived component."
When Vegetarians in Paradise published the story, Emes Kosher-Jel Flunks the Gelatin Test in June (http://www.vegparadise.com/news53.html), vegetarians reacted to the story with skepticism and disbelief and considered the information as a rumor.
The story opened a Pandora's Box with readers sending us additional information to support our claims that Emes was not being truthful about its products.
The phones at Emes were busy as Vice President Ted Loomos assured callers that the product contained no animal ingredients and was truly a vegan product. Loomos told VIP that this rumor was generated by the competition to put his company out of business. The competitor is Hain Celestial that makes a gelatin-like product that is quite unlike Kosher-Jel.
He told other callers that this was a vindictive move by members of the Seventh-day Adventist community because Emes did not grant Adventist ABC stores prices as low as those received by another distributor. Still others were informed that the lab reports were inaccurate because the samples tested were too small.
Following our June story, we received laboratory analysis reports from sources that showed the Jel contained animal protein. Because these laboratory tests were initiated and paid for by Seventh-day Adventists, VIP believed it might strengthen Emes's claim that they were part of the Seventh-day Adventist plot.
Since we are not Seventh Day Adventists and have only the search for truth as our motive, we decided to commission and pay for our own test of Emes Kosher-Jel. We have a small bag of the Jel in our home, but we reasoned that we might be accused of tampering with it before sending the sample to the lab.
Instead of sending our Emes Kosher-Jel, we went online to order an 8-ounce package from Barry Farm in Wapakaneta, Ohio. We requested that Barry Farm send the package, not to us, but to Krueger Food Laboratory, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We arranged for Krueger to analyze the sample in two tests to determine whether it contained animal ingredients: the hydroxypoline test and the Kjeldahl analysis. The hydroxyproline test indicates the presence of collagen derived from the connective tissue of animals. The Kjeldahl test shows the percentage of protein content in the sample. The ingredients listed on the package are maltodextrin, carrageenan, and locust bean gum, none of which contain more than 2% protein, according to Dana Krueger, owner of the laboratory.
We chose Krueger Food Laboratory because it is respected in the field of food analysis and has no connection with the Seventh-day Adventist community. The total cost of the Jel and the analysis was $130.
The Krueger report revealed that the gelatin content in the sample cotained 52% protein while the hydoxyproline test indicated 6.4% hydroxyproline. Typically, gelatin derived from beef or pork would show approximately 6% hydroxyproline. Hydroxypoline values at 3% would suggest the gelatin was derived from fish sources.
Dana Krueger emailed the following comments to VIP to explain the analysis:
The product we analyzed listed three ingredients: maltodextrin, locust bean gum and carrageenan. All three of these materials are carbohydrate products of plant origin. None of them contains any more than trace levels of protein.
Protein analysis of the product yielded a result of approximately 52% protein. This is far higher than could possibly derive from the trace protein impurities which might be found in the gum materials above. We can conclude that the principal ingredient in this product is a protein based material. For this reason, the product can be stated to be clearly mislabeled.
For purposes of determining the the type of protein, we measured the level of hydroxyproline in the sample. We found approximately 6.4% hydroxyproline. Since hydroxyproline derives from the protein in the product, the hydroxyproline of the protein can be calculated as a little over 12% of the protein.
While hydroxyproline can be found in traces in some plant and algae proteins, it is only found in substantial quantities in the protein collagen, which makes up much of the bone and connective tissues of animals. The high level of hydroxyproline in the product indicates that the protein ingredient derives in large part from collagen. For this reason, it is possible to say with good confidence that this product contains gelatin (a food grade of processed collagen) as its principal ingredient.
This conclusion leads to the further conclusion that the product is neither vegan nor even vegetarian, but is instead an animal product.
Carrie Beets and Dr. Galen Comstock of Paulden, Arizona, were quite suspicious of the nature of Emes Kosher-Jel. Beets and Comstock, both Seventh-day Adventists and committed vegetarians, sent a sample of Kosher-Jel to Covance Laboratories, Inc. in Madison, Wisconsin. The hydroxyproline test revealed 6.53% that translates to 52.2% of collagenous connective tissue in the sample.
According to the laboratory, "The presence of hydroxypoline, especially in the levels as high as that measured in your sample, is a nearly conclusive indication that a material contains an animal derived component."
After running the tests in March 2005, Covance sent the following information to Dr. Comstock:
VIP contacted Professor Ken Burke, Professor Emeritus of the School of Allied Health Professions Nutrition and Dietetics at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. Dr. Burke told VIP that he has known about Emes misrepresenting its products since 1959.
"The company has been playing games with vegetarians and unwitting Jews who look for kosher foods for 40 years."
"The word 'meat,' according to the food and Drug Administration, means muscle or organ tissue." Dr. Burke explains. "Technically gelatin is not a meat product," Since the label on the product says "contains no meat or dairy products, the label could be considered accurate. "I have seen the carageenan test done some 40 years ago on that same product, and it came out if there was any there, it was just a trace. It was not detectable," says Burke.
In a follow-up to our telephone conversation Dr. Burke emailed us this information:
I have received several e-mails requesting verification of the VIP report. Here is a cut-and-paste response: [If you are ever in the Chicago area try to find the company (as our market managers did a few years ago)] try checking to see if they have a business license.
Thank you for your e-mail asking for verification of the VIP report. It is essentially correct--with some clarification First of all, as I recall, when I was first associated with a chemistry department in a small college back East (back, I believe, in the late 1950s or early 1960s) the chairman of the department was testing EMES Kosher-Jel to determine if the ingredient statement was correct that carrageenan was the main gelling agent. He had done the test that came out negative for carrageenan and showed it to me.
Later, I worked in research and development (as well as quality control) for a small food company [Emes allegation that I have an ax to grind: (that indeed manufactured a vegetable gum-containing vegan gel--that was the late 1950s--the company was sold in the 1980s, and the vegan gel product was discontinued due to sharpening of food product focus in the mid 1960s)]. My assistant was a good technician who, along with me, compared many competitors' products with those of the small food company we were with. In one of those demonstration sessions for the company's "detail men" (salesmen) we demonstrated the physical characteristics of gels, and once again EMES demonstrated gelatin-like characteristics. [Also one of the salesmen from a large food ingredient supplier came by to interest the company in starting a line of gel products from kosher animals (now here I need to explain that legally gelatin is a derived product and not a "meat" product--similarly whey is a derived and not a "milk" product)]. At that time, as I recall, he suggested that his company supplied Emes.
I have taught food science classes for years, and have had the students test different gels for gelatin using bromelin from fresh pineapple or bromelin-containing powdered meat tenderizers to contrast collagen-derived gels from vegetable gum-based gels (bromelin is a protein-splitting enzyme that works on all proteins but is more specific for collagen).
It is true that I complained to the Los Angeles office of FDA about the long-standing Emes violation, but I did not actually "file" a formal complaint (the LA office did not appear to be very interested in expending resources to follow up on the complaint about a relatively small company).
Emes presentation of lab proof their product is gelled by vegetable gums: You probably noticed that none of the 3 tests done by the "independent" lab actually test for gelatin (it is interesting to note that it is possible to determine the species of animal the gelatin was derived from by use of an "antigen/antibody" technique--the test, however is fairly expensive).
My reply to the allegation that not enough sample was sent to determine its ingredients is that as an analytical chemist and a food scientist I can tell you that all the sample that is needed is a well mixed representative sample of 1 to 2 grams (remember 454 grams is equivalent to 1 pound). With 1 to 3 packages of a competitor's product analytical chemists with the aid of a good microscopist, can not only determine the ingredients, but also their ratio.
If you need further clarification, please feel free to contact me.
Kenneth I. Burke, PhD, RD
Professor Burke sent the following information to help people who want to test the product in their own kitchens to determine whether it contains animal gelatin.
Kenneth I. Burke, PhD, RD
Here is how you can tell if Emes is telling the truth that their product gels because of the carrageenan and locust bean gum that they have in their ingredient statement. Since both of these gums are polysaccharides and contain no protein, then you should be able to add fresh pineapple [contains bromelin--a protein-splitting enzyme (protease)] to the gelled product with no damage to it. However, if it contains gelatin, a derived or manufactured product (therefore technically not "meat" or "animal" product) made by extracting animal bones, etc. with hot water, the protein-splitting enzymes (bromelin from pineapple, or ficin from figs, or papayain from papaya, or protease-containing "meat tenderizers," etc.) will break apart the gelatin strands and change the gel into a liquid. Or if added to the product while still a liquid, then the product will not gel.
Another indication, thought not as specific, is the set point. Gelatin gels at refrigerator temperatures while the vegetable gums set somewhere around 120 to 140 degrees F. If Emes sets at that temperature, perhaps they are telling the truth. If, however, their product gels at lower than 80 degrees F, try this definitive test:
I would be interested to find out your results (feel free to call me during between 10-12 AM at our toll-free number: 1-800-422-4558 (at the prompt choose The School of Allied Health Professions, and a live operator will answer--then ask for Dr. Kenneth Burke and you will be connected to my extension--7214).
As an aside you might inquire from the city they work from if they are licensed to manufacture food products.
VIP also contacted Kay Hansen of the Emerald Valley Wellness Clinic in Creswell, Oregon. Hansen, suspicious about the Kosher-Jel had sent a sample to a food laboratory in 2004 to determine whether the product contained animal ingredients. She responded to our request for information by writing, "I'm glad you've decided to help people be informed about this issue with the Emes gelatin. Enclosed you will find the original analysis report from Krueger Food Lab as well as his follow-up explanatory letter regarding the definition of gelatin. In addition, is a letter addressed to a lady in Carmichael, California from Emes Kosher Products stating their product is vegan."
Copies of the lab report and the two letters appear below.
VIP sent the following letter to Emes offering them an opportunity to respond to the charges that their product contained animal ingredients:
June 29, 2005
Dear Mr. Loomos:
The intention of this letter is to offer you the opportunity to respond to the allegations published in Vegetarians in Paradise http://www.vegparadise.com/news53.html that your Emes Kosher-Jel contains gelatin as determined by two independent laboratory tests.
We would be happy to print any information from you that supplements the data that you faxed to us in May. One of those items was a laboratory report that did not indicate the name and address of the laboratory conducting the analysis or that it was testing for collagen that would indicate the presence or lack of presence of gelatin.
As you may know, the vegetarian community is in an uproar at the thought that that there are more ingredients in Emes Kosher-Jel than are listed on the package.
We believe it would be in the best interest of your company to counter these allegations by clearly showing laboratory test information to disprove them.
Zel and Reuben Allen
Emes responded a few weeks later asking us to sign printed copies of the story which we sent to them the next day. A copy of their letter appears below.
Loomos responded on August 2 with a two-page letter that reviewed his dialog with the Loma Linda Market. In the letter printed below, Loomos states, "Loma Linda Market knew our products were animal free and they wanted a share of the market."
Emes Kosher Products is holding the smoking gun for misrepresenting its products and betraying the trust of its customers. The company can no longer delude the vegetarian community. When vegetarians stop buying Kosher-Jel, Emes will rightfully become a dark memory in history.