Does Modified Food Starch Have Gluten and What it is Anyway?

Is modified food starch gluten free? In the United States, most food starches are gluten free as they are based on either corn, waxy maize, tapioca and potato.

Food starch can also be based on wheat, but if that is the case, the label must clearly states that wheat is an ingredient.

Modified starch is mainly used as a food additive to thicken, emulsify, or stabilize products.

As previously mentioned, if the starch is obtained from wheat, manufacturers are legally obliged to clearly display the origin of the starch on the product’s label. 

Modified Food Starch Gluten Free Confidence Score

modified food starch gluten free confidence score

We score food starch a 8/10 mainly because in the US it is based on corn and not wheat, but in other parts of the world it may be based on wheat.

What is modified foot starch

Modified food starches are used for their thickening, emulsifying, and stabilizing properties. For instance, the original starch can be modified to enhance the shelf life of a product, shorten the thickening time, or stand different temperatures (freezing or extreme heat).

Just think of ‘instant’ foods that can be cooked in a matter of minutes and require a minimum amount of additional ingredients (e.g. puddings).

Since modified food starch dissolves well at high temperatures and improves texture, it is widely used in gravies and sauces.

What to look out for

Most modified food starches are gluten free. However, some brands use wheat as their base but are required by law to state it on the product label.

If you are someone with celiac we strongly advise you to always check labels carefully before consuming products containing modified food starch.

The law obliges manufacturers to clearly display the origin of the starch if the base ingredient contains gluten (e.g. Modified Wheat Starch).

To make it simple, if a food product lists modified food starch as an ingredient, but the word “wheat” is not included, then the respective product should be safe to eat.

However, since cross-contamination during processing is always an important factor to keep in mind, the safest way is to opt for products that are labeled as gluten-free.

Brands that make GF modified food starch

These 3 brands publicly acknowledged that their product is safe to consume by people with celiac:

  1. Clabber Girl Cornstarch – This brand also makes baking soda that is gluten free. The company manufactures everything under their own brand and it is all gluten free.
  2. Hodgson Mill Cornstarch – This brand only make gluten free products and claims their food starch contains less than 5ppm
  3. Bob’s Red Mill Cornstarch – The brand claims to use specific equipment to make its gluten free products and that all the products it makes falls under the 20ppm definition in the US which means it is safe to eat by people with celiac.