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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reading Labels: Corn

A while back I made my very first gluten, corn, egg, dairy, and soy free cake, and I was so excited I even had frosting! I got it all ready to serve and realized the frosting hadn't set well enough, so I was going to add more sugar. As an afterthought, I read the packaging. "Corn Starch" was clearly labeled under the ingredients but I didn't even think to look. I just thought sugar was sugar! My nephew is horribly allergic to corn, so the cake was served to others. I was so bummed out and reminded that it is so important to check labels.

Corn Allergies

Corn is in so many different products in different forms listed under different names.

Other names for corn:

* Popcorn
* Corn meal
* Maize
* High Fructose Corn Syrup
* Hominy
* Grits
* Polenta
* Cornstarch
* Cornflour

Ingredients that often/usually come from corn:
* Baking Powder
* Vegetable Oil
* Confectioners Sugar
* Fructose
* Glucose
* Maltodextrin
* Invert Sugars
* Dextrin
* Artificial Flavor/Sweetener
* Natural Flavor/Sweetener
* Starches
* Thickener
* Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
* Caramel Color
* Citric Acid
* Vanilla Extract (used to sweeten and color)

For a more extensive list of "may or may not contain corn" products, go here:

Corn is used widely as a sweetener, non-stick agent, and thickener. It's in many soups, syrups, sodas, chips, crackers, juices, and most baked goods. It's also in wasabi. I heard a statistic recently that nearly 70% of the processed (canned/premade foods in the grocery store have some form of corn in them. I can't find the quote, but find it believable after going through a lot of nutrition labels in my life.

Another great resource for both food and non-food products with corn:

A great article on how nearly all fast food is derived from corn and unsustainable:,8599,1859018,00.html

I would also encourage you to read up more on the prevalence of GMO corn in our markets and the potential side effects. Many think allergies are more prevalent and are unintended consequences of crossing genes with additional plant species.

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