Questions From Readers
● Lecithin is found in blood. And many processed foods have lecithin as an ingredient. Is such lecithin obtained from blood?
No, there is no reason for thinking so.
Lecithin is a natural substance that has many industrial uses because of its affinity for both oil and water in an emulsion. It is often used commercially in ice cream, candies and baking products, as well as in some cosmetics and chemical products. But what is the source of this lecithin?
Lecithin is a phospholipid present in all living cells. The 1977 Encyclopedia Americana points out: “The highest concentrations of lecithins are found in brain and nervous tissue and in red blood cells. They are also present in large quantities in egg yolk and in some types of plant seeds.”—Vol. 17, p. 147.
The fact that blood contains lecithin has been of concern to some Christians who have seen lecithin listed as an ingredient on food labels. The Bible commands Christians to ‘abstain from blood.’ (Acts 15:28, 29) They should thus avoid eating unbled meat and foods made with blood, such as blood sausage or blood pudding. Since red blood cells, though, contain concentrations of lecithin, some Christians have refused to eat any product having lecithin listed as an ingredient. Others have felt compelled to write to manufacturers to check on the source of the lecithin used in certain foods.
However, The Encyclopedia Americana continues: “Commercially, lecithin is used as an emulsifier in the food industry, particularly in the manufacture of margarine and chocolate. Lecithin for industrial uses is obtained from eggs or as a by-product in the manufacture of soybean oil.” (Italics added.)
Because commercial quantities of relatively inexpensive lecithin can be obtained from eggs or soybean oil, there is no reason for any manufacturer to seek to have lecithin extracted from blood. By way of illustration: Red blood cells also contain molecules of iron. Yet how senseless it would be for a manufacturer to consider extracting iron from blood so he could make cooking pots or other iron products when the same substance (iron) can be obtained from iron ore at a fraction of the cost.
The fact is, then, that commercial lecithin does not come from blood. So Christians need not be concerned about blood when they see “lecithin” listed on the label of some food product.