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

  • Modified starch is mainly used as a food additive to thicken, emulsify, or stabilize products.
  • If you are celiac or suffer from gluten intolerance, then it is important for you to know that most modified starches are gluten-free.
  • 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.
  • Most modified food starches are gluten-free. However, if you are on a gluten-free diet, we strongly recommend you avoid products that contain modified food starch, even if it is not derived from wheat. The reason is simple: cross-contamination.

Is modified food starch gluten free? What the hell is food starch anyway?! When I first started with a gluten free diet, I never knew much about these things, and I bet you need to learn a lot too.

In this article we will explain what food starch is, and if it’s gluten free or not.

Modified starch is mainly used as a food additive to thicken, emulsify, or stabilize products. Modified food starch is obtained by chemically, physically, or enzymatically altering starch to modify its original properties.

However, this doesn’t mean that all modified starches are made from genetically modified ingredients. 

Nowadays, modified starch is present in almost any processed food. If you are celiac or suffer from gluten intolerance, then it is important for you to know that most modified starches are gluten free.

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

Does Modified Food Starch Have Gluten – What is modified food starch

does modified food starch have gluten
via hrcusa

Starch is found in potatoes, corn, rice, tapioca, and other grains and vegetables. It is widely used for its thickening and firming qualities.

Modifying the inherent composition of food starch helps it dissolve faster, enhance texture, and hold up better against temperature changes. 

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The most commonly used types of modified food starches are obtained from:

  • corn
  • wheat
  • waxy maze
  • tapioca
  • potatoes

Most manufacturers list the source of the starch on the product’s label (e.g. Modified Tapioca Starch). Its extensive use in processed food is also justified by its lack of nutritional value. 

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, the story changes if the modified food starch has wheat as its base.

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If you are celiac or suffer from gluten intolerance, 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.

To sum up

Modified food starch is used in most processed foods for a wide variety of reasons: make products dissolve easier, improved texture, prolonged shelf life, etc.

Plus, it has no nutritional value. Most modified food starches are gluten-free. However, if you are on a gluten-free diet, we strongly recommend you avoid products that contain modified food starch, even if it is not derived from wheat.

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The reason is simple: cross-contamination of the starch during manufacturing. 

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About the Author: Diana

Foodie at heart, ever since I discovered I had Celiac, I completely changed my diet and eating habits, I enjoy writing and reading about recipes and actually cooking for my family