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Modified Starches

What are modified starches?

Modified starches are starch-like carbohydrates obtained by treatment of corn or wheat starch with heat, alkali, acids or enzymes [1]. They are not genetically modified starches. In the human intestine, they may act as soluble or insoluble dietary fiber, which can be more or less fermentable [3]. They are used as food additives.

Modified starches are only partially digestible, so they provide less calories than regular starch.

Nutrition Facts for Modified Starches

  • Calories per gram = 1-2 [4]
  • Net carbohydrates = <50%

Modified starches used as food additives include (E-numbers in brackets) [1]:

  • Dextrin roasted starch (E1400) is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe by the US FDA.gov)
  • Acid treated starch (E1401) is GRAS
  • Alkaline treated starch (E1402)
  • Bleached starch (E1403) is GRAS
  • Oxidized starch (E1404)
  • Enzyme-treated starch (E1405)
  • Monostarch phosphate (E1410) is GRAS
  • Distarch phosphate (E1412) is GRAS
  • Phosphated distarch phosphate (E1413) is GRAS
  • Acetylated distarch phosphate (E1414) is GRAS
  • Starch acetate (E1420)
  • Acetylated distarch adipate (E1422) is GRAS
  • Hydroxypropyl starch (E1440) is GRAS
  • Hydroxypropyl distarch phosphate (E1442) is GRAS
  • Starch sodium octenylsuccinate (E1450) is GRAS
  • Acetylated oxidized starch (E1451)

Modified Starches Uses

Modified starches can be used as [1]:

  • Food thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers and texturizers in various commercial foods: baked goods, ice creams, jams, canned foods, confections, sauces, etc.
  • Binders in pills
  • Fiber supplements (for example resistant dextrin and resistant maltodextrin)

Modified Starches Safety, Side Effects

All modified starches listed above (except acetylated oxidized starch) have an “Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) not specified” status by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), meaning toxicity has not been observed at any amount, and some are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [2].

Resistant dextrin, resistant maltodextrin and other soluble modified starches may cause abdominal bloating and flatulence (check the product information leaflet for eventual other side effects).

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