What is it | Uses | Safety | Side effects | FAQs
If you have ever read the ingredients label of tomato sauce, frozen ready meals, dairy products and fried crisp, you may have noticed several additives named with acetylated distarch adipate (E1422) and hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate (E1442). They’re both called modified food starch.
You may know native food starches from corn, potato, tapioca, rice and wheat. But what is the modified food starch? And what happens after starch is modified?
What is Modified Food Starch?
It is also called starch derivatives, which are produced by physically, chemically or enzymatically treating with native starch to change, strengthen or impair new properties by molecular cleavage, rearrangement or introduction of new substituent groups.
What is it Made From?
A slurry of native starch from maize, waxy maize, tapioca, potato, wheat and rice are the common source that generates 6 types of corresponding modified starch as follows:
- Modified corn starch
- Modified waxy maize starch
- Modified tapioca starch
- Modified potato starch
- Modified wheat starch (may contain gluten)
- Modified rice starch
What is it Made Of?
Native starch consists of two polymers of glucose, amylose (linear structure) and amylopectin (highly branched). The structure of modified food starch is complex, it is also made of amylose and amylopectin, but the structure is altered and also with other introduced new substituent groups if it does.
Why is it Modified?
To make starch suitable for various applications where the native starch cannot meet such requirements. For example, modified food starch is resistant to acid & alkali, shear, high temperature, freeze/thaw and etc, while native starch isn’t.
Generally, below properties of native starch will be changed after modified:
- Temperature of gelatinization
- Gel clarity
What is it Used For?
The purpose of modified food starch in food is to function as a binder, thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier, or gelling agent.
How is it Made and How Many Types of Modified Food Starch?
There are numerous ways to modify food starch, such as cooking, hydrolysis, oxidation, bleaching, oxidation, esterification, etherification, crosslinking and etc.
The manufacturing process depends on the source of starch and what it is used for. And therefore derived various kinds of starch according to the modifications.
The following are the common modification methods, physically, chemically and enzymatically. And along with the modified food starch types.
1. Physically modification
- Radiation treatment
- Heat treatment
Pre-gelatinization is the simplest modification, by cooking and drying. Food manufacturer does not need to pre-cook pregelatinized starch again during uses as it already has developed viscosity and it keeps most of the functional properties of the native starch.
This modification enables starch swell & soluble in cold water and having a crispy texture after baking.
2. Chemically modification
- Esterification: Acetylated starch (E1420), esterified with acetic anhydride or vinyl acetate.
- Etherification: Hydroxypropyl starch (E1440), etherified with propylene oxide.
- Acid treated starch (INS1401), treated with inorganic acids.
- Alkaline treated starch (INS1402), treated with inorganic alkaline.
- Bleached starch (INS1403), dealt with hydrogen peroxide.
- Oxidation: Oxidized starch (E1404), treated with sodium hypochlorite.
- Emulsification: starch sodium Octenylsuccinate (E1450), esterified with octenyl succinic anhydride.
Stabilized and cross-linked starch are the two main types of chemical modification that are widely used in our food.
1. Stabilized starch
It is usually produced by esterified or etherified treatment. Acetylation and hydroxypropyl etherification are two common methods which are used to:
- Improve the gel setting performance
- Increase the stability during frozen storage
- Stabilize freeze-thaw cycles
- Reduce dehydration (retragraditon) and lower gelatinization temperature
2. Cross-linked starch
Phosphoric acid, oxalic acid and their salts are mainly used to modify starch to make it resistant to shear, heat and acid. The following three are the common types:
- Monostarch phosphate (E1410), esterified with ortho-phosphoric acid, or sodium or potassium ortho-phosphate or sodium tripolyphosphate.
- Distarch phosphate (E1412), cross-linked with sodium trimetaphosphate or phosphorus oxychloride.
- Phosphated distarch phosphate (E1413), having undergone a combination of treatments as described for monostarch phosphate and for distarch phosphate.
3. Stabilized & Cross-linked starch
Sometimes a starch may undergo both stabilization and cross-linking depending on the processing and storage, such as:
- Acetylated distarch adipate (E1422), cross-linked with adipic anhydride and esterified with acetic anhydride.
- Acetylated distarch phosphate (E1414), cross-linked with sodium trimetaphosphate or phosphorus oxychloride and esterified by acetic anhydride or vinyl acetate.
- Hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate (E1442), cross-linked with sodium trimetaphosphate or phosphorus oxychloride and etherified with propylene oxide.
3. Enzymatically modification
- Hydrolysis: enzyme treated starch INS 1405, maltodextrin, cyclodextrin
4. Other Methods
Most modified starches are white or off-white, odourless powders. According to the drying method, these powders can consist of whole granules having the appearance of the original native starch, or aggregates consisting of a number of granules (pearl starch, starch-grits) or, if pre-gelatinized, of flakes, amorphous powder or coarse particles. ()
Insoluble in cold water (if not pre-gelatinized); forming typical colloidal solutions with viscous properties in hot water; insoluble in ethanol.
What’re the Applications of Modified Food Starch?
It is used in almost all starch food applications as a thickener, stabilizer, binder or emulsifier. And you may find the following foods contain with it:
- Canned food
- Frozen prepared foods
- Meat products: sausage, canned meat
- Bakery: bread, cake, biscuits
- Confectionery: soft candy, gelling candy, jelly
- Dairy desserts: yogurt, ice cream, pudding
- Fruit pie & cream fillings
- Gravies, dressings
- Sauce: flavored sauce
- Instant food: noodles
Is Modified Food Starch Safe to Eat?
Yes, its safety used as a food additive has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), as well as other authorities.
According to the FDA 21CFR172.892, food starch-modified may be safely used as a direct food additive in the following modifications:
- acid-modified by treatment with hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid or both.
- oxidized by treatment with chlorine or sodium hypochlorite
- esterified and etherified by treatment
- some above combinations
Modified starches (E 1404–E 1452) are listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 231/2012 as an authorised food additive in the EU as “Additives other than colours and sweeteners”. ()
Safety Re-evaluation in 2017
After the studies of short and long-term toxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and other researches, in 2017, EFSA concluded that “there is no safety concern for the use of modiﬁed starches as food additives at the reported uses and use levels for the general population and that there is no need for a numerical ADI.” ()
16 Food grade Specifications of Modified starches (INS 1400, 1401, 1402, 1403, 1404, 1405, 1410, 1412, 1413, 1414, 1420, 1422, 1440, 1442, 1450, 1451). ()
Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI): The ADIs of 16 modified starches are all “not specific”. The “not specific” of 15 types set in 1982 and for acetylated oxidized starch (1451), the “not specific” was set in 2001.
What are the Possible Side Effects?
It is common that sometimes consumers have questions whether modified starch is bad for our health and what are the side effects in the food we eat. However, it is generally considered safe and almost no reported health risks. Maybe some people are allergic or sensitive to it.
Frequently asked questions
Is it Halal?
Yes, modified food starch is recognised as halal as it is permitted under the Islamic Law and fulfill the conditions of Halal. And we can find some manufacturers certificated with MUI halal.
Is it Kosher?
Yes, it is kosher pareve. It has met all the “kashruth” requirements and can be certified as kosher or maybe kosher passover.
Is it Gluten free?
Modified food starch is generally gluten-free if sourced from corn, waxy maize, potato, tapioca and rice as it complies with the FDA’s definition of gluten free, that it does not contain wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains. ()
But modified wheat starch may not gluten-free if it is derived from wheat and eat it may cause celiac disease. However, another starch derivative, maltodextrin is considered gluten free in Regulation No.1169/2011 even if obtained from wheat. ()
Is it a Natural Ingredient?
Physically modified starch can be regarded as natural while chemically modified one is artificial.
Is it Vegan?
Yes, it is vegan as the manufacturing process without the use of animal matter or products derived from animal origin. So it is appropriate for the diet of vegetarians.
Is it a Leavening Agent?
Modified starch is different from any leavening agent which is a mixture of ingredients used in doughs and batters that causes a foaming action (gas bubbles), as it acts as a thickening agent, binder, emulsifier or gelling agent, and not for making baked goods rise.
Is it a Carbohydrate?
Yes, it is a complex carbohydrate.
Is modified food starch Keto?
No, it is a carbohydrate so not keto-friendly. A ketogenic diet means a diet with low carb but high fat.
Is it a Fiber?
No, starches could be partially broken down by enzymes (e.g. amylase) in the digestive tract of man while fiber is not digested by the human body in the same way as starches. It goes through the small intestine intact and then fermented in the large intestine.
Another starch derivative, resistant dextrin, can be regarded as a fiber. It is a low-molecular-weight carbohydrate and a water-soluble fiber that strongly resistant to human digestive enzymes.
Is it Genetically Modified (GMO)?
Modified starch should not be confused with genetically modified starch, which is referring to genetic engineering of the plant DNA. However, some modified starches are likely made from GMO plant sources.
What are the Difference between Native Starch and Modified Starch?
In modiﬁed starch, the physical and chemical characteristics of the native starch (amylose and amylopectin) are altered in order to improve the functional properties for specific food applications.
In general, modiﬁed starch is used due to its superior properties compared with that of native starch.
Is it the Same as MSG?
No, they’re totally different as MSG is a flavor enhancer. However, there is a relationship between them – the same raw material, native starch.
MSG is fermented from starch while modified food starch is a starch modification from chemical, physical, enzyme or other methods.
What are the Substitutes of Modified Food Starch?
Following thickeners may be alternatives for some applications:
- Xanthan gum
- Guar gum
- Tara Gum
- Gum Arabic
How to Avoid Modified Food Starch?
You can have much chance to avoid it if you know what it is marked in the food label. Let’s see how both starch and modified starch show in the label.
Starch in label
According to FDA, that in the USA, starch in food labels is considered the common or usual name for starch made from corn; alternatively, the name “cornstarch” may be used. Starches from other sources should be designated by some non-misleading term that indicates the source of such starch, for example, “potato starch,” “wheat starch,” or “tapioca starch.” ()
Modified food starch in label
It may be listed as “food starch-modified” or its name or E number or INS number.
There are a total of 16 types of modified starch approved by JECFA that are listed with INS number while in Europe, INS1400, INS1401, INS1402, INS1403, INS1405 are not considered to be food additives so you may not find it in the label.
Now you may have a knowledge of Modified food starch, from the following aspects:
- Various manufacturing process
- Types, Function and Uses in food
- Side effects
- FAQs: is it gluten free, keto, and etc
We can see it very often in our daily life, did you notice it in your food?