Blood-derived products for human consumption
Blood, the first by-product obtained after the slaughter of an animal, has long been used in European and Asian countries as an ingredient in traditional foods such as blood sausages, puddings, blood soups, breads and crackers (Mandal, Rao, Kowale, & Pal, 1999). For many years US slaughter houses used to discard blood as an unwanted by-product (Halliday, 1973) but its high nutritional value, coupled with serious disposal issues, has fueled recent research and industrial efforts to incorporate blood proteins into a wide range of food products. Commercial blood products, either from plasma or the cellular fraction of blood including whole blood, serve particular functions in different products. Although they are mainly used in meat products, primarily to increase protein levels and enhance water binding and emulsifying capacity (Mandal, et al., 1999), advances in food technology mean that blood derived products are beginning to be found as ingredients in non-meat processed food and dietary supplements. Consumers are often unaware that some of these products are now being used in sectors of the food industry that hitherto did not use blood ingredients, with these often being declared on the label merely by their brand name or the name of the protein. This is a serious issue for Jews and Muslims, who are forbidden to eat anything derived from blood as a result of the dietary restrictions imposed by their religions, as well as others who avoid blood-tainted food or any product of animal origin due to ethical, cultural, or health reasons, or simple personal preference. Regulatory guidance in the proper labeling of these products is now crucial to protect consumers and the development of effective analytical methods for the detection of hidden ingredients derived from blood in food products is thus urgently needed.