Gum Arabic, also known as acacia gum, chaar gund, char goond, or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees throughout the Sahel from Senegal and Sudan to Somalia, although it has been historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia. Gum arabic is a complex mixture of polysaccharides and glycoproteins that is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, although less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles. While acacia gum is now produced throughout the African Sahel, it is also still harvested and used in the Middle East. For example, Arab populations use the natural gum to make a chilled, sweetened, and flavored gelato-like dessert.
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