Gelatin is a multifunctional ingredient used in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and photographic films as a gelling agent, stabilizer, thickener, emulsifier, and film former. As a thermoreversible hydrocolloid with a narrower gap between its melting and gelling temperatures, both of which are below human body temperature, gelatin provides unique advantages over carbohydrate-based gelling agents. Gelatin is mostly produced from pig skin, and cattle hides and bones. Some alternative raw materials have recently gained attention from both researchers and the industry not just because they overcome religious concerns shared by Jews and Muslims but also because they provide, in some cases, technological advantages over mammalian gelatins. Fish skins from a number of fish species are among the other sources that have been comprehensively studied as sources for gelatin production. Fish skins have a significant potential for the production of high-quality gelatin with different melting and gelling temperatures over a much wider range than mammalian gelatins, yet still have a sufficiently high gel strength and viscosity. Gelatin quality is industrially determined by gel strength, viscosity, melting or gelling temperatures, the water content, and microbiological safety. For gelatin manufacturers, yield from a particular raw material is also important. Recent experimental studies have shown that these quality parameters vary greatly depending on the biochemical characteristics of the raw materials, the manufacturing processes applied, and the experimental settings used for quality control tests. In this review, the gelatin quality achieved from different fish species is reviewed along with the experimental procedures used to determine gelatin quality. In addition, the chemical structure of collagen and gelatin, the collagen-gelatin conversion, the gelation process, and the gelatin market are discussed.
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