Modified food starch is an ingredient I read on many labels and I always wonder if it is gluten free. Here are the facts:
– modified food starch is prepared by treating the native starch to change the properties of the ingredient in order to enhance their performance in different applications (increase stability against heat, acid, to change texture, etc.)
– modified food starch can be made from corn, potato, tapioca, wheat, or other starches. Modified corn, potato and tapioca starches are gluten free and as long as they are specifically stated as corn, potato or tapioca on the label, you are safe (unless there is another ingredient in the product that contains gluten)
– in North America, modified food starch is most often made from corn or potato starch, with tapioca and wheat used occasionally
– in the U.S., if modified food starch is made from wheat, it must be listed as such on the label according to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act
– Canada does not require wheat to be identified in modified food starch labels, but fortunately, Heath Canada is current revising food allergen regulations that will require manufacturers to declare on the food label all major allergens
In summary, be cautious of items that contain ‘modified food starch’ that are produced outside of the U.S., as they might contain gluten. However, ‘modified corn starch’ – an ingredient I read on many food labels – is gluten free and safe to consume for a person with celiac disease or a gluten allergy. The important thing to remember is to read all labels fully and when in doubt, call the company to clarify if a product is safe to consume.