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dionnek

Modified Food Starch And Caramel Coloring

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Ok, what's the deal with these 2 items. I've seen conflicting information as to whether they are ok or not. Help!

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I'm always confused about the modified food starch too... unless it specifically says modified corn starch or potato starch, I usually call the company to find out for sure. As for the caramel... they say it's gluten free if it's made in the USA, but to avoid it when it's made elsewhere because they can't guarantee that it hasn't been contaminated.

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I find myself referring to Betty Hagman's cookbooks quite often and use them as my "basis." So, here's what Bette Hagman has to say about:

Caramel color: can be made from dextrose (corn), invert sugar, lactose, molasses, or sucrose (beet or cane). These are all gluten-free. Caramel color made in the U.S. and Canada is made from these sources. Imported items containing caramel color can be made from malt syrup or starch hydrolysates, which can be made from wheat. If in doubt about the caramel color used in an imported food product, contact the company for information.

Modified Food Starch: can be corn, tapioca, or potato starch which are all safe. But more frequently it's wheat, the most common and least expensive form of thickener for the manufacturer. If the label reads starch, in the U.S. this means cornstarch for foods, but in medications that starch can be corn or wheat.

So, my guideline is that caramel coloring is fine if made in the U.s. or Canada. I don't give my daughter anything that says "Modified Food Starch" unless it specifies specifically "modified corn starch", etc.

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A word of caution when using books as a reference. Like everything in life things can change over time (think vinegar, used to be considered unsafe, now we know it is safe). So things that were correctly written at the time may no longer hold true now. I find I depend on Gluten Free Living magazine's back cover to look for safe and unsafe ingredients. I only write this because I have run into books that are somewhat outdated and do not reflect the latest infomation.

With the new labeling laws if the modified food starch is from wheat it must state wheat as an ingredient.

Hez

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A word of caution when using books as a reference. Like everything in life things can change over time (think vinegar, used to be considered unsafe, now we know it is safe). So things that were correctly written at the time may no longer hold true now. I find I depend on Gluten Free Living magazine's back cover to look for safe and unsafe ingredients. I only write this because I have run into books that are somewhat outdated and do not reflect the latest infomation.

With the new labeling laws if the modified food starch is from wheat it must state wheat as an ingredient.

Hez

True and apart from what is considered safe changing as I understand it the US take on starch and vegetable sugars including dextrines etc. is not because of any regualtion, simply that the commercial suppliers use corn and thier plants are set up specifically to handle it.

With globalisation there is no reason for them to continue using domestic sourced dextrose or starch deriviatives even if the product is still manufactured in the US...

The new labelling should help but the problem is that in most cases there is no tracability of the ingredients. Companies don't specifically order 1000 tons of modified corn dextrose, they order 1000 tons of dextrose from whoever is cheapest. modified starch, dextrose and caramel color are just commodities...

If for instance their is a excess of these items in europe or elsewhere their price will drop and it will be cheaper for US companies to buy them than domestic..

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gfp, you nailed the problem on the head. Unless the company making the product has a particular desire to always use a non gluten starch, they will use whatever is cheaper for them. That's what gives them a higher profit. Remember, it's a fact of life that they are in business to make money and they'll take the short cut 9 times out of ten, unless their mission statement declares that they are a gluten-free food manufacturer. Morally, in any case, they do, in my opinion, have an obligation to indicate on the label the source of the starch as it would be nice. I am sure that they can do that when they know the "lot number" of the incoming starch and who they purchsed it from, etc. It'll just take them time and money to research this.....

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