Gelatin: Mmm...Mmm...Not So Good for Food Allergies

gelatin-puddingI remember as a kid watching actor/comedian Bill Cosby use his funny smirk to show how delicious and nutritious Jello-O pudding was to eat. Cosby’s famous line: “What does your mouth say when you eat it?” The kids answered, “Mmm, mmm, good, Jell-O pudding!”

Well, as we came to realize Jell-O (with all its sugar) isn’t the best snack a parent could choose for their child. However, now more information is coming out that Gelatin, a main ingredient in Jello-O and a lot of other candies, foods and vaccines, is a cause of allergic reactions.

This past fall 2013, The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology presented research by the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai that showed Gelatin was responsible for the adverse reactions to the flu vaccination in one patient’s case, and not egg allergy, as was previously thought.


Gelatin crystals

What exactly IS gelatin?

Gelatin is a mixture of proteins from cow, pig and fish — the collagen or connective tissue taken from the animal’s tendons (which is why some vegetarians and all vegans avoid it). Gelatin in vaccines is more likely to cause an allergic reaction in a vaccine once it has been concentrated and purified.

The vaccines that contain gelatin are:

  • influenza
  • measles
  • mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • varicella (Chickenpox or Herpes Zoster)
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • pertussis(DPT)

The case reported at the meeting involved a 4 year old boy who developed a rash around his mouth after eating icing on a cake. He had received the influenza vaccine in the past without a problem. He did have a history of itchy mouth and stomach pain after eating gummy candies, gummy vitamins and marshmallows. The patient did test positive to fresh gelatin on a skin test and was found to have allergy antibodies in the blood to cow gelatin.

The Good News

There are vaccines available for influenza and DTap without Gelatin! Contact us for more information.

I have always been a big fan of Bill Cosby. And I know he is friends with Oprah (a strong supporter of good nutrition, which we support here at MMG.) I hope he won’t be insulted, but I hope his Jell-O commercials don’t go back on the air anytime soon.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island


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