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Shellfish Allergy and Chitosan
Posted November 1st, 2009 | 1 Comment
I'm a little worried about using Chitosan as a fining agent in my wine, because I'm quite allergic to shellfish, and I understand it's a shellfish derivative. Should I be worried?"
First off – no, you shouldn't be worried – even if you have a shellfish allergy. While it's true that Chitosan comes from shellfish – it's actually derived from chitin, a natural polymer found in the shells of shellfish and crustaceans. Allergic reactions come from the proteins of the shellfish organism, and not from the shells. And, to further allay your concerns – any residual shellfish proteins that may have been left on these shells are completely removed, during the process of transforming chitin – into chitosan. And remember, virtually all traces are removed from the finished wine, after the chitosan drops out of the must during clearing. So, the origin of chitin, the process of creating chitosan, and the limiation of the chitosan means even those with shellfish allergies, can use chitosan with confidence.
Now, just a refresher – chitosan acts as an all-encompassing floculating agent in the winemaking process. It removes all solids, including proteins and phenolics, and has proven to be an effective clearing agent. It was originally paired with colloidal silica in the finings process – the silica would bring the smaller, fine particles together within the solution – and these would be swept away by the chitosan when it was added 24 hours later. But research has shown that a simple adjustment in the amount of chitosan means that the silica can be omitted altogether – with no loss in the efficency of the finings. So, clear with confidence!
Post filed under: Ask The Vintner
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