Last Updated on April 5, 2022
Today, we’re going to be answering the question: is modified corn starch gluten free? And taking a look at the uses of modified corn starch, and what makes it different from traditional cornstarch. When you first receive your diagnosis, it can feel overwhelming trying to uncover what you need to be looking out for, and understanding ingredient labels.
There are so many ways that gluten can sneak into almost any food and drink products, so it’s always important to check labels before purchasing. An ingredient that crops up time and time again is “modified corn starch”. But is it gluten-free? We’ll get to that – but first, what is gluten? Let’s take a look.
What Is Gluten and What Usually Contains Gluten?
Gluten is the name for a group of proteins that you’ll find in cereal containing grains. The grains to avoid can be remembered by using this handy acronym:
Oats (unless GF oats)
These proteins can be found in a huge selection of foods, but the most common foods to avoid are:
- baked goods
Gluten is most often used to bind foods together, add texture or to thicken.
What Is Modified Corn Starch?
You’ll likely have seen modified corn starch on the ingredients label of many food products. While you may think this means it’s been genetically modified at some point, this is not the case. When corn starch is modified, it simply means that the corn starch has been changed by an enzyme or chemical. This allows it to be used for different purposes.
Read more about: Does Cornstarch Have Gluten?
Ingredients In Modified Corn Starch
Although it may seem as though it should contain a few ingredients, the only ingredient that you’ll usually find in modified corn starch, is corn.
Why Do We Use Modified Corn Starch?
Modified corn starch (or any modified starch) is a food additive. Using modified corn starch as an ingredient helps for the following reasons:
- helps to thicken
- stabilizes food products
- helps to emulsify
By changing these properties, it also helps the products to respond better to different temperatures (for example freezing).
What Is Modified Food Starch?
Modified food starch can mean a range of starchy foods. However, the most commonly used are potatoes, corn, tapioca and waxy maize. Wheat can sometimes be used, and this may make you fearful to try a product when it’s labelled with “modified food starch” as an ingredient. However, if wheat has been used, this should legally be clearly disclosed on the label.
Learn more about: Do Mashed Potatoes Have Gluten?
Cross Contact Risks
If a food isn’t labelled as gluten-free, there is always a chance of cross-contact – no matter what the food is. Cross contact is when a product that does not contain any gluten comes into contact with gluten when the product is being made. This can be due to a shared facility or preparation area. This is why it’s always best to opt for foods that carry a clear gluten-free label or are certified gluten-free – as those products are tested for gluten.
Modified Food Starch Gluten Free Brands
Surprisingly, you can’t actually buy modified corn starch! However, you can buy natural cornstarch, which also works as a great thickener or binder, if you’re looking for a product to use in your cooking and baking.
The following corn starch products are completely safe when following a gluten-free lifestyle.
Bob’s Red Mill Cornstarch
Bob’s Red Mill is my go-to brand for many gluten-free products – one of them being cornstarch. Bob’s Red Mill is a certified gluten-free brand, which means that it must meet strict guidelines set by the FDA and be tested thoroughly for any traces of gluten. You can find their non-GMO and gluten-free cornstarch available in stores and online for around $3 per bag.
Clabber Girl Cornstarch
The Clabber Girl cornstarch is another non-GMO, gluten-free product that is easy to obtain, and relatively inexpensive. Clabber Girl also prides its cornstarch on not just being gluten-free, but also kosher, vegan and trans-fat-free; making it suitable for a range of dietary lifestyles. You can find out more about their extra smooth corn starch here.
I hope this article has helped to answer the question: is modified corn starch gluten-free? And give you an idea of why modified corn starch is so prevalent in so many of our everyday food products. As long as you’re remembering to check if wheat is listed as an ingredient in “modified food starch”, it’s relatively easy to enjoy modified corn starch!
Do you know of any other gluten-free corn starch brands that didn’t make the list? I know Hodgson Mill is another popular gluten-free corn starch brand. If so, please feel free to let me know in the comments below. Sharing is caring!
What is the Difference Between Corn Starch and Modified Corn Starch?
Modified corn starch is almost identical to untreated corn starch. The only difference is that the enzymes and chemicals have been changed when it comes to modified corn starch. When it goes through this modification process, it's better at stabilizing food products, thickening food products and even makes it better with binding foods together!
Is Cornstarch Safe for Celiacs?
Yes. Typically, cornstarch is safe for celiacs, as is modified corn starch. The only time modified starch isn't safe for celiacs, is when it's been made using wheat. However, if wheat is an ingredient, the FDA state that it should be listed as "modified wheat starch", "modified food starch (wheat)", or have wheat listed in the ingredients with their allergen statement. The top 8 allergens in the US must be declared on any ingredient labels, and wheat is among the top 8.
What is Modified Corn Starch Gluten Free?
Modified corn starch should always be gluten free, so we don't need to be looking out for any particular gluten free labels, or gluten free claims, when it comes to modified corn starch.