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Is Modified Food Starch Gluten Free?

6 Comments 12 June 2010

Probably! “Modified food starch” is wheat, corn, potato, or tapioca starch whose molecules have been rearranged. If wheat starch is used, that allergen must be listed on the ingredients label. Consider this statement published originally in the magazine Gluten Free Living and quoted on the website Gluten Free in San Diego: “In all my 13 years of following the gluten-free diet, and ten years studying ingredients, I don’t know of a single instance where a modified food starch turned out to be modified wheat starch. . . . I have never seen or heard about modified rye starch or modified barley starch being used for anything. In fact, the starch experts I spoke to said they don’t think these starches exist.” Celiac.com places “modified food starch” on its “Unsafe Foods List” but makes this comment: “If this ingredient is made in North America, it is likely to be gluten free”.

Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. K Jones says:

    Another interesting ingredient we should be aware of is Maltodextrin. I know in Australia, this is often sourced from wheat, and it could be elsewhere. I look forward to the day we also indicate this source in lists of ingredients on food.

  2. tina says:

    I am a celiac and the only thing I have gotten an allergic reaction to is anything with gluten in it. Nine times out of ten, if I try to eat anything with MSG, I get sicker than a dog. I am sorry, but I highly disagree with the statement quoted above from that website. Why don’t you take a survey and find out yourself?

  3. kassandra says:

    In reply to Tina–MSG is widely recognized as gluten free on many labels as it is usually a product of bacterial fermentation. A gluten sensitivity may cause you to be more sensitive to MSG than some others, however. Also–MSG and modified food starch are not one in the same, for the record.

    In reply to K Jones–in a majority of nutrition courses, research projects and dietician interviews, I have personally found success in the fact that food manufactured in the United States with Maltodextrin are safe (unless otherwise specified). But you are very right to take caution if you reside or travel outside of the U.S. (a priviledge I have yet to encounter :])

  4. Terry says:

    I was just diagnosed at the age of 50 and Its crazy. I was looking for answers on modified food starch and you have all helped me. I have an extreme sensitifity it seems and Ive just gone through my 3rd week long pain and sick fest because Im still learning. Anyway thanks for the info on food starch it helps as Im leaving now for the grocery store.

  5. Debbie says:

    Kassandra,

    I am celiac and I have celiac friends. One went to Italy with her Sister and they had the attitude of “forget it, we are eating what we want”. They ate pizza and pasta and everything and never had a reaction. I tried Pasta imported from Italy and I too had no problem whatsoever. My friend says it’s widely known that American wheat has been genetically modified to be a “super wheat” and therefore has gluten. I don’t know enough about that .. but I do know I had no reaction and regularly eat imported pasta from Italy.
    NOTE: Your chances of finding gluten free pastry are probably better in Europe, but I suggest that you not take the risk. Always dine defensively.

  6. noratoo says:

    I tried eating lowfat/’lite’ mayonnaise with modified food starch as the fat substitute and it caused the usual reaction that gluten ingredients cause.

    I rely on wheat-free tamari sauce as a condiment. I mention this because tamari (like soy sauce) I believe is the result of a kind of fermentation process and evidently that process does not make the gluten disappear. I know I can’t eat soy sauce in oriental restaurants without a reaction. So I’m very unclear about the statement above that fermentation somehow makes wheat or gluten-containing ingredients safe for celiacs.

    Over the past 12 years I’ve found that it is best to give up trust for processed foods and their lab testube ingredients and just rely as much as humanly possible on whole foods. Also, so many ingredients are now coming from China where there are no controls/regulation — the situation regarding ingredient safety has gotten more questionable, not safer for the consumer.


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