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What is corn?

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watch for hidden corn

Corn is the seeds of cereal grain crop Zea mays. Because of its widespread use in packaged foods, it can be difficult to avoid the corn allergen, which is a protein called "zein". Those allergic react to all parts of corn from corn dust, corn starch to whole kernel corn.

Corn is not presently considered a major allergen. If it is marked on labels at all, it is voluntary and will generally appear in the form "contains corn".



Read the label for corn

Corn can be found in: Acetic acid, ascorbic acid. Alcohol. Allulose. Alpha tocopherol. Artificial flavorings and sweeteners. Ascorbates. Astaxanthin. Baking powder (typically contains corn starch). Barley malt. Bleached flour. Blended sugar (sugar dextrose). Brown sugar (contains caramel color). Calcium (in the form "calcium citrate", "calcium fumarate", "calcium gluconate", etc. Caramel and caramel color. Carbonmethylcellulose sodium. Cellulose (in the form "cellulose microcrystalline", "cellulose, methyl", "cellulose, powdered", etc). Cetearyl glucoside. Choline chloride. Citric acid (grown on a corn base). Citrus cloud emulsion (CCS). Coco glycerides (cocoglycerides). Confectioners sugar and powdered sugar (typically contains corn starch). Corn (in the form "corn alcohol", "corn extract", "corn flour", "corn gluten", "corn oil", "corn starch", "corn sweetener", "corn sugar", "corn syrup", etc). Cornflour, cornmeal, and popcorn. Crosscarmellose sodium. Crystalline dextrose and crystalline fructose. Cyclodextrin. d-Gluconic acid. Decyl glucoside and decyl polyglucose. Dextrin. Dextrose (in the form "dextrose monohydrate", "dextrose anhydrous", also found in IV solutions). Distilled white vinegar. Drying agent. Erythorbic acid. Erythritol. Ethanol. Ethocel 20. Ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, ethyl lactate, and ethyl maltol. Ethylcellulose. Ethylene and ethylene glycol. Fibersol-2. Flavorings. Food starch (if unspecified). Fructose. Fruit juice concentrate. Fumaric acid. Germ and germ meal. Gluconate. Gluconic acid. Glucono delta-lactone. Gluconolactone. Glucosamine. Glucose. Glucose syrup (also found in IV solutions). Glutamate. Gluten. Gluten feed and gluten meal. Glycerides. Glycerin. Glycerol. Golden Syrup. Grits. High fructose corn syrup. Hominy. Honey. Hydrolyzed corn. Hydrolyzed corn protein. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose pthalate (HPMCP). Inositol. Invert syrup or invert sugar. Iodized salt. Lactate. Lactic acid. Lauryl glucoside. Lecithin (if unspecified). Linoleic acid. Lysine. Magnesium fumarate and magnesium stearate. Maize. Malic acid. Malonic acid. Malt syrup. Malt, malt extract. Maltitol. Maltodextrin. Maltol. Maltose. Mannitol. Margarine. Masa. Methyl gluceth, methyl glucose, and methyl glucoside. Methylcellulose. Microcrystaline cellulose. Modified cellulose gum. Modified corn starch. Modified food starch (if unspecified). Molasses. Mono- and di-glycerides. Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Natural flavorings. Oil, Canola. Oil, Vegetable. Olestra (Olean). Paracetic Acid. PLA - Biodegradable Plastics. Polenta. Polydextrose. Polyethylene Glycol (PEG). Polylactic acid (PLA). Polysorbates (e.g. Polysorbate 80). Polyvinyl acetate. Potassium citrate, potassium fumarate, and potassium gluconate. Pregelatinized starch. Propionic acid. Propylene glycol and propylene glycol monostearate. Pullulan. Rice syrup, rice malt, and rice malt syrup. Saccharin. Salt (cornstarch added to prevent clumping). Shortening. Sodium carboxymethylcellulose. Sodium citrate. Sodium erythorbate. Sodium fumarate. Sodium lactate. Sodium starch glycolate. Sodium stearoyl fumarate. Sorbate. Sorbic acid. Sorbitan. Sorbitan monooleate. Sorbitan tri-oleate. Sorbitol. Sorghum syrup. Starch (if unspecified). Stearic acid. Stearoyls. Threonine. Tocopherol (vitamin E). Treacle. Triethyl citrate. Unmodified starch (if unspecified). Vanilla, natural flavoring. Vanilla, pure or extract. Vanillin (artificial vanilla). Vegetable (in the form "vegetable oil", "vegetable starch", etc). Vinyl acetate. Vitamins including C and E. Xanthan gum (grown on a corn base). Xylitol. Yeast and yeast extract. Zea mays. Zein.

Note; Please note that facilities which process corn may share lines with other products. It is not required to be labelled.

Corn free substitutions

Corn is a challenging allergen both because it is not required to be labelled and because it's in everything. Once you determine the purpose of the corn, you can choose an appropriate substitution.

For one cup corn syrup (230 grams) or similar liquid corn sugars, substitute:

For corn-based starch, substitute these starches:

For one cup of cornflour, masa, or similar, substitute these flours:

For baking powder, substitute with 1 part baking soda + 1 part acid such as lemon juice.

To substitute for 1 cup powdered sugar, grind in a spice grinder:

Note: Large batches will burn out the motor on your grinder. Be moderate, or grind small amounts over a few days.

For corn oil, substitute an equal amount of:


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