Is modified food starch gluten free?

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Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Is modified food starch gluten free?

Answer


Most of the time modified food starch is made from corn in the United States, but not always…so read labels carefully.

When it comes to foods, beverages and supplements which fall under The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) then wheat has to be disclosed as an allergen on the label under the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).

If the modified food starch is derived from wheat it will be listed in one of two ways:

  1. In a Contains statement following the ingredient listing. Example: CONTAINS WHEAT
  2. In parenthesis following the ingredient containing the allergen within the ingredient listing. Example: Modified food starch (wheat)  (1)

Rye and barley are not used as starches so you do not need to worry about those in relation to modified food starch.

Note: Some wheat starch has been rendered gluten free, in that case it has to be disclosed on the label. Products that are labeled gluten free and contain wheat starch are required to disclose this on the label per the FDA and include the following statement: "The wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the Food and Drug Administration's requirements for gluten-free foods."

What if the food falls under the USDA? If so, then it may not be disclosed whether the modified food starch is from wheat and needs to be investigated further by contacting the manufacturer. (2)

Which foods fall under the USDA labeling? (3)

Meats – Beef, lamb, pork

Poultry

Egg products

Processed foods containing more than 3% raw meat or 2% cooked meat or poultry.

What about modified food starch in medications? It is important to note that labeling laws are different for medications than foods. Drug manufacturers do not have to disclose the top 8 allergens on the label. However, according to the FDA, it is rare that medications do contain gluten (4). If you come across modified food starch in a medication, then it would need to be investigated further.

Always contact the manufacturer directly or ask your pharmacist about the inactive ingredients/fillers such as modified food starch.

Here is a post I previously did on medications that you might find helpful:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/do-i-need-to-check-that-my-medication-is-gluten-free/

Check out glutenfreedrugs.com, which is maintained by a pharmacist and includes lists of medications and their GF status.

References:

  1. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004, Questions And Answers. FDA Website. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/Allergens/ucm106890.htm#q9. Published December 2, 2005. Updated July 18, 2006. Accessed October 29, 2019.
  2. Confusing Ingredients in the Gluten-Free Diet. https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-resources/confusing-gluten-free-diet-ingredients/
  3. National Celiac Association. Gluten-Free, Off to A Fresh Start. Presentation. Updated September, 2020.
  4. US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Medications and Gluten. FDA Website. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/ucm410373.htm. Updated December 12, 2017.

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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