Last updated: April 15, 2016
This research was originally done by the creator of the blog called Hidden Corn. This blog is no longer maintained as the author was no longer keeping up on the newest developments. I wanted it to remain available for people, so I took the data over and am soliciting help from a trusted friend to keep it up to date. We are making changes and additions as we note missing or outdated information. Please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see anything that is incorrect, or any broken links.
ACETIC ACID: This is the component of vinegar that smells “vinegary” to us. For chemical use most acetic acid is made using inorganic (there for corn-free) starting materials, but most food grade acetic acid is a fermentation product which is frequently grown on a corn glucose, corn malt steep, or corn mash. Reference.
AGAVE NECTAR: This sweetener is extracted from the starchy core of the agave cactus. The core is squeezed to extract juice and then the juice is processed via high-heat treatment or via fermentation to break down the fibers into a high-fructose syrup. This syrup is then filtered several times to remove any particulates. Entry point for corn is via cross contamination and could be at any stage in this multi-step process. References: (1) – (2) – (3) – (4) – (5)
APPLES:Can be waxed with a wax that contains corn, or the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based. Organic apples are waxed with shellac or carnauba wax which are suspended in corn-based agents or solvents. Organic apples can also be sprayed with organic pesticides including those that are “mineral” or “clay-based” that are suspended in corn-based solvents such as ethanol or corn-based coating agents. The wax and carriers for the pesticides can permeate the skin and contaminate the fruit beneath.
ASCORBIC ACID (Vitamin C):Supplemental ascorbic acid is typically a fermentation product grown on corn dextrose, corn glucose, or corn steep liquor. As an ingredient of another product, the acid isn’t labeled because it’s in a minute amount and considered insignificant by the U.S. FDA.
ACTIVATED CARBON/ACTIVATED CHARCOAL: Source for the carbon can be wood, coconut, bamboo, bone, charcoal, or peat, but could possibly be corn. Char then needs to be activated, and an acid can be used to activate. It appears that the most common acids used to activate are inorganic, meaning not from fermented acids such as citric acid or lactic acid that may have been grown on corn dextrose, but it seems it could be possible.
AVOCADOS:Can be gassed with ethylene from corn to ripen them. These are also commonly waxed in a corn based wax to make them shiny and trees may be sprayed with all sorts of corn-based things just like anything else can be.
ALMONDS:Almonds grown in the US are required to be pasteurized. This pasteurization can be done using a number of methods including blanching, steaming, oil roasting, or application of propylene oxide. All of these may or may not add corn just depending on specific methods and sources used.
BAKING POWDER:A mixture of chemical leavening agents and starch. The starch is usually cornstarch, but Hain Featherweight uses potato starch. (Reactions reported to Hain by the most sensitive, probably due to cross contamination.)
BANANAS:Can be gassed with ethylene from corn to ripen them. Some producers use treatments to keep them fresh longer which are often more corny than the gassing which is done to ripen. Some markets can special order ungassed from their suppliers if requested but it takes some leg-work. Even ungassed are often treated with anti fungals and other products to keep them fresh, be thorough and do your research to ensure safety.
BEEF:The cow may have been fed corn as part of its diet. Even some grass-fed cows are finished with corn to help fatten them up. If you are able to source a cow that has been grass-fed *and* grass-finished, there are several potential “corn hurdles” to overcome during the processing of the animal.
BEEF – PROCESSING:The meat may be sprayed with lactic acid, citric acid, distilled white vinegar from corn, or some other anti-bacterial agent before the meat is hung to age – an anti-bacterial agent is recommended for cattle that are not pasture-fed and –finished (see discussion here). During the processing, the equipment and/or meat may be sprayed with an anti-bacterial. The processed meat may be packaged on a Styrofoam tray containing a citric acid-saturated soaker pad underneath the meat, and then wrapped with shrinkwrap or plastic wrap. More on corn free meat processing.
BERRIES:May have been treated with citric acid. May have had corny fertilizers, antifungals, or pesticides applied. (Even organic berries.) Green composite cartons may contain corn. See Corn-tamination Series post for more details.
BUTTER – SALTED:Avoid “light” butters and flavored butters, which generally contain a whole host of “corny” ingredients. If the salt is iodized, it may contain dextrose, which is “corny.” Some folks react to the corn in the cow’s diet. Butter wrappers may be corn waxed also the ink or paper may be made of corn. Your more likely to have success with butter not wrapped in paper from grass fed cows with minimal additives.
BUTTER – UNSALTED:May contain lactic acid (sometimes unlabeled!) and/or “natural flavoring.” Avoid “light” butters and flavored butters, which generally contain a whole host of “corny” ingredients. Some folks react to the corn in the cow’s diet.
CANNED BEANS:BPA-free lining can be made from corn resin. Salt added can be corny. Some places filter the water through corny filters in an attempt to improve the taste (while others just baseline use corny water from the tap).
CANNED BROTH/STOCK:Corn may have been one of the broth ingredients. May contain canola oil, which can contain a “corny” citric acid. Filtered water (an ingredient in some brands of broth) can be “corny,” depending on the filter used. Other ingredients which may be corny include MSG, “natural flavorings,” seasonings, and spices.
CANNED FISH:The fish could have been packed in slurry ice containing propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and ethanol, all from corn, on the boat, or could be transferred to slurry ice-lined display counters at stores. Some frozen fish, especially wild alaskan salmon, are dipped in a glaze before freezing that either contains corn products (second reference) or is actually just corn syrup mixed with water. Some canned fish products contain vegetable broth, which is often “corny”. Other ingredients which may be corny include citric acid, flavorings, seasonings, and spices. BPA-free lining can be made from corn resin.
CANNED FRUITS (including Applesauce):Can contain artificial sweeteners, ascorbic acid, cellulose, citric acid, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, “natural flavor,” sorbitol, spices, and/or sucralose. Cross-contamination may be a concern. Plastic containers can be problematic for some. Cleanser used in glass jars can be problematic for some.
CANNED SOUP:BPA-free lining can be made from corn resin and any of the ingredients are potential corn sources just like anything else.
CANNED VEGGIES (including Tomato products):Can contain calcium chloride (???), citric acid, “natural flavor,” seasonings, spices, vinegar. Cross-contamination may be a concern. Tomato products often have citric acid or ascorbic acid added to adjust the pH level and to prevent spoilage — as an ingredient of another product, the acid doesn’t have to be labeled because it’s in a minute amount and considered insignificant by the FDA. BPA-free lining can be made from corn resin.
CANOLA OIL:Processed with citric acid and hexane (a petroleum-based solvent);Citric acid can be added to the oil as a degumming agent. (second source) If the oil is in a plastic bottle, the bottle can be corn-derived. This oil is typically the least safe of all oils due to practices used to make it.
CARAMEL:Commercial food producers often use corn syrup to make caramel, although it can be made, instead, from cane sugar or beet sugar. Caramel can be used as a flavoring or a coloring.
CARBONATION – Carbon Dioxide can be manufactured commercial as a byproduct of corn ethanol.
CARROTS – BABY and/or WHOLE – BAGGED:May contain citric acid as an anti-bacterial. Root vegetables are more likely to soak up whatever was used to fertilize or keep pests away in the soil and can present more problems than other vegetables.
CHEESE:Vegetarian enzymes and vegetarian rennet can be corny; see also “Vegetarian Rennet”. In particular, the enzyme “chymosin” can be grown on a genetically-modified corn base. Many microbial rennets contain propylene gylcol from corn. Cornstarch can be used as a non-stick agent in the packaging or on the conveyor belt, or as a non-caking agent in pre-shredded cheese. The waxy coating can be corny. The coloring can be corny (ex:annatto, which is often made with cornstarch). Also beware if the cheese contains vinegar, flavoring, or cellulose. For more information please see the Corntamination series article on cheese.
CHERRIES: Can be sprayed with antimicrobial sprays or rinsed in citric acid. Cherries are often stored in antimicrobial or modified atmosphere packaging to prevent molding. No references yet on what this packaging is made of but many reactions reported including instant rashes on contact with the packaging.
CHLORINE:Cornstarch can be used as a de-clumping agent. Chlorinated tap water, pools etc may cause issues as will household bleach.
CITRIC ACID:Cultures of the mold Aspergillus niger are fed on a sugary solution, often corn-based (in spite of the word “citric” being part of the ingredient name), to create citric acid. Reference.1 Reference 2 Citric acid can be used as a flavoring and/or preservative in MANY foods, including raw meat and fresh produce (including organic), medications (OTC and prescription), personal hygiene products, and so on. As an ingredient of another product, citric acid isn’t labeled because it’s a minute amount and considered insignificant by the U.S. FDA.
CITRUS FRUITS:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn. Are another fruit typically treated with anti fungal products to prevent molding. Know your farmer.
COCOA POWDER: Grinding equipment cleaned with corn products/shared. Packaging can be corny. Commonly treated with ph balancing agents during dutching process of making cocoa (raw cocoa avoids that process and raw whole beans are often easier to find safe, but as with anything, use caution).
COCONUT – PROCESSED:Cornstarch can be used as a de-clumping agent. Corn may also be hidden in the form of sulfites or sulfates that are used to maintain the snow-white color.
COFFEE:Wet process harvesting can introduce corn in a number of ways via chemicals and cross contamination. Roasting can involve corn-derived disinfectants, flavorings, or preservatives. Beans can be polished with dextrose. Decaffeination is either done with corny chemicals or with the swiss water process that can introduce cross contamination. Packaging can be lined with corn plastic, dusted with corn starch, or oiled with corn oil. See the Corn-tamination Series post for details.
COOKING OILS:If bottled in plastic, the bottles can be corn-derived. The oils can be rendered corny during refining. Need to determine what is used during the extraction process (alcohol or other medium?), and if any defoaming agents are used.
CORN-ANYTHING:Cornmeal, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, popcorn, etc. If it has corn in its name, it’s pretty certain to be a problem. Cornstarch can be used in the manufacturing of a variety of products yet not be listed on the label of those products (example:sliced cheeses, Quaker oats, sanitary napkins, some gelatin capsules, etc.).
CORNED BEEF:Corned beef is cured with coarse salt that resembles kernels of corn. However, processed meats, including corned beef, often contain dextrose, food starch, or corn syrup, so don’t assume corned beef is corn-free unless you’ve made it yourself or have done meticulous research about corned beef you’re purchasing, or receiving, from someone else.
COW’S MILK:Lowfat and nonfat milks are enriched; see “Vitamins” for more information. The carrier used for the vitamins can be corny (ask if propylene glycol or polysorbates are used in the carrier). Vitamin D is often suspended in corn oil and the manufacturer will not usually realize that unless they double check with their supplier. The milk container can be made from or lined with corn plastic. The cows’ diet may have contained corn (a problem for some folks).
CROSS-CONTAMINATION:Sometimes a corn-free product will become “corny” due to cross-contamination. Examples:a corn-free grain processed on the same line or in the same facility as corn; a corn-free cow processed after a corn-taminated cow; grocery store bulk bins can be a source of cross-contamination. For grains, finding a company that processes only one type of grain helps prevent cross-contamination concerns.
CUCUMBERS:Can be waxed with a wax that contains corn, or the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based.
DATES:Dates are frequently have to be manually pollinated either by human hand or machinery in order to produce adequantely, and the pollen is mixed with some kind of filler. This is ferquently wheat flour but *could* also be corn starch.
DEXTRIN:Thickening agent often made from cornstarch. Can be found in sauces, dressings, and ice cream.
DEXTROSE:Also known as ” glucose” or “corn sugar”. A simple sugar often made from corn. Used in a variety of foods, including cookies, ice cream, and sports drinks. Also shows up in prepared foods that are supposed to be crispy, such as french fries, fish sticks, and tater tots. Common in IV solutions, which can be quite dangerous for the corn-allergic.
DIGLYCERIDES:Glycerides can be derived from animal or vegetable (including corn), or may be synthetically-made. They act as emulsifiers and are used in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections.
EGGPLANT: Can be waxed with a wax that contains corn, or the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based.
EGGS:A chicken’s diet nearly always contains corn. Additionally, corn-derived xanthophylls can be added to chicken feed to make the yolks more yellow– it doesn’t have to be on the ingredients list because it’s not an ingredient, rather it’s a tool used to get the eggs to look nicer without tampering with the end product. The eggs may have been washed with an egg detergent/sanitizer, which could be derived from corn or contain carriers and preservatives derived from corn, and then wiped with an edible oil to replace the natural barrier that was removed in the cleaning process — the edible oil could be mineral oil or a corny vegetable oil. Eggshells are porous, so what’s on the outside of the egg can possibly end up inside, if even in a very minute amount. If you’re buying eggs from a farmer’s market or an individual, be sure to ask how they handle their eggs.
ENRICHED / “FORTIFIED” FOODS:See “Vitamins”.
EXCIPIENTS:Substances used to bind the contents of a pill or tablet. Can be derived from corn.
EXTRACTS (ex:vanilla extract):These are usually in a corn alcohol, or extracted with corn alcohol. If the extract is alcohol-free, it can contain glycerin, which is often corn-derived. Alcohol-free vanilla (and corn-free vanilla) are often extracted using corn alcohol, then the alcohol is evaporated off leaving behind the corny residue, and then this is added to other liquids. If the vanilla was created using this method, it is not corn-free and has just as much allergen risk as regular corn-alcohol vanillas. For it to be a truly corn-free vanilla extract, it must be extracted by non-corn-derived ingredients, and contain only non-corn-derived ingredients.
FISH: The fish could have been packed in slurry ice containing propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and ethanol, all from corn, on the boat, or could be transferred to slurry ice-lined display counters at stores. Some frozen fish, especially wild alaskan salmon, are dipped in a glaze before freezing that either contains corn products (second reference) or is actually just corn syrup mixed with water.
FLOUR – BLEACHED:According to the U.S. FDA’s guidelines, it’s possible for bleached flour to contain cornstarch without any obvious mention on the label, because cornstarch is allowed as a diluent for some bleaching agents. Since the flour is labeled as “bleached”, you’re supposed to understand that it could contain any of the many bleaching agents and their inactive ingredients.
FLOUR:The vitamins in “enriched” or “fortified” flour can be corny, as can the carrier used to transfer them into the flour. There can be cross-contamination in the facility that processes the flour if they also process any kind of corn products, especially cornstarch or cornmeal. See also “Flour – Bleached”.
FRUCTOSE:A simple sugar often made from corn. Usually seen in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
FRUIT:(also refer to the individual fruits) Gases, waxes, washes, and coatings — things to retard spoilage and bacteria — can be corn-derived. For folks who are super sensitive to corn, the fertilizer and pest control can be problematic if they contain corn derivatives. For some individuals, things grown with manure from animals which were fed corn can be problematic, as can fish emulsion. Even organic growers can use fish emulsion, and the emulsion is from farmed fish, which are fed corn (and gluten), so the corn is not only in the fish but also in the water, and, therefore, all over the fish, and the emulsion is sprayed all over the fruit trees / plants. Soap sprays used on plants / trees can be corny. For some people, fruit grown near corn can create enough of a cross-contamination to cause a reaction.
GARLIC:Can be treated with an anti-sprouting agent.
GELLAN GUM:Commonly fermented on a medium containing corn, soy, or wheat. Reference.
GRAPEFRUIT:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn.
GRAPES:May have been sprayed with a “corny” anti-fungal.
HERBS:Dried herbs can be treated with a corny preservative.
HONEY:Some beekeepers use corn syrup in the winter as a supplemental food for their bees. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/) Honey hives located near corn fields can be problematic for some corn-sensitive individuals. Sprays used to prevent illness in bee hives can be corn based. Honeycombs can also be made of corn wax instead of actual beeswax.
INVERT SUGAR SYRUP:A mixture of glucose and fructose, and can contain citric or asorbic acid.
JAMS/JELLIES:Pectin often contains dextrose/dextrins as the stabilizer. The dextrose/dextrins do not have to be listed on the label of jams/jellies/preserves because ingredients of ingredients do not have to be listed.
JUICE CONCENTRATES:These generally have either citric acid or asorbic acid added to adjust the pH level as needed; both acids can be corn-derived.
KUMQUATS:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn. Fruit is also typically gassed in corn ethanol like most citrus.
LACTASE: Lactase is an enzyme that is frequently produced via fermentation. This fermentation can be on a medium containing corn. Reference.
LACTIC ACID:Like citric acid, lactic acid is a preservative and a disinfectant. Industrial production of lactic acid is via fermentation of sugar, which is usually corn sugar. Not all lactic acid is from corn sugar, but the major American manufactures use corn sugar.
LACTOSE: can be separated from whey using corn-based alcohol.
LACTULOSE: Produced by reacting lactose with a strong base and then processed with ethanol. The ethanol cannot be completely removed from the final product.
Last updated:October 2, 2013
LEMONS:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn. Fruit is also typically gassed in corn ethanol like most citrus.
LEUCINE: Often produced via fermentation on a corn sugar such as glucose, sucrose, or corn steep liquor. Can be directly extracted from corn.
LIMES:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn. Fruit is also typically gassed in corn ethanol like most citrus.
MALT; MALT SYRUP; MALT EXTRACT:Malt is germinated grain — often barley, but it can be any grain, including corn, which is typically cheaper than barley. Unspecified malt on a label is probably not barley. Malt can be found in alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, chocolate, breakfast cereals, etc.
MALTED BARLEY EXTRACT:Can be found in cereals. Usually extracted using grain alcohol and the grain is usually corn. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
MALTODEXTRIN:A thickening agent often made from cornstarch. Can be found in sauces, dressings, and ice cream.
MAPLE SYRUP: Almost all maple syrups may have had a de-foaming agent used, and that de-foaming agent can be corny. The most common currently is Atmos 300 which contains citric acid. Other defoamers may still contain corn or be cross contaminated with corn. Canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, butter, cream are common non-chemical defoamers that can still cause a corn reaction when used in maple syrup.
MEDICATIONS:OTC meds contain a list of inactive ingredients, which are used to hold the preparation together in an easily-measured dosage. Prescription meds, on the other hand, are not required to list those inactive ingredients. Common excipients, or medicinal fillers and binders, that can be derived from corn include, but are not limited to, alcohol, artificial flavoring, microcrystalline cellulose (and anything else with the word “cellulose”), citric acid, cornstarch (or simply “starch” or “modified food starch”), dextrose, glucose, glycerine, lactate, maltose, mannitol, propylene glycol, saccharin, sorbitol, xanthan gum, and zein. Information about getting medications compounded to exclude corn derivatives can be found here.
MOLASSES:Can contain added colorings, which can be corn-derived, and sometimes corn syrup. Molasses producers often use a defoamer during the processing, and that defoamer can be derived from corn. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
MONOGLYCERIDES:Glycerides can be derived from animal or vegetable (including corn), or may be synthetically-made. They act as emulsifiers and are used in bakery products, beverages, ice cream, gum, shortening, whipped toppings, margarine, and confections.
MSG:A flavor enhancer used in many packaged and prepared foods, produced by the fermentation of starch (including corn), sugar beets, sugar cane, or molasses.
MUSHROOMS:May be grown on a “corny” medium. See Corn-tamination Series post for details.
NATURAL FLAVOR(S):How were the flavors extracted? If with grain alcohol, which grain? (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
NON-DAIRY MILKS:The carrier used for the vitamins can be corny (ask if propylene glycol or polysorbates are used in the carrier). Vitamin D is almost always suspended in corn oil and the manufacturer will not usually realize that unless they double check with their supplier. The milk container can be corny. Stabilizers, preservatives, sweeteners, and flavorings may be added and may contain corn.
NUTS:Need to inquire how they’re pasteurized, what is used for pest control during growth and also after harvest, and if they are washed after processing (if so, with what?). Can be cross-contaminated during manufacturing (cleaner used on lines may be corny; other products used on the same line may be corny; workers may be wearing cornstarch-powdered gloves). Packaging may be corny. Loose nuts can be cross-contaminated in bulk bins at stores. Salt and/or seasonings may be corny.
ORANGES:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn. Fruit is also typically gassed in corn ethanol like most citrus. Also treated with anti fungals like other fruit and often dyed to make it more “orange”.
ORGANIC:The use of the “organic” label does not necessarily equate to a product being corn-free — corn can be organic, after all. Produce preservatives, washes, and waxes can be corn-based. Pesticides which are corn-based and fertilizers which contain corn can be organic; corn gluten can be used as a pre-emergent herbicide. Organic canned goods can contain an “organic” citric acid. Organic meats can be processed with a corny wash/anti-bacterial. Organic potato chips can contain corn-based dextrose and maltodextrin. (source:News for Corn Avoiders)
ORGANIC FRUIT:Can still be waxed. Rather than using a wax that contains corn, carnauba wax or shellac are used, but the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based.
PASTA:Beware “enriched” or “fortified” pastas; see “Vitamins” for more information. Cross-contamination can be a concern if the pasta is processed on equipment, or in a facility, that processes corn products.
PEARS: Can be waxed with a wax that contains corn, or the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based. Organic pears are waxed with shellac or carnauba wax which are suspended in corn-based agents or solvents. Organic pears can also be sprayed with organic pesticides including those that are “mineral” or “clay-based” that are suspended in corn-based solvents such as ethanol or corn-based coating agents. The wax and carriers for the pesticides can permeate the skin and contaminate the fruit beneath.
PECTIN:Dextrose/dextrins often used as the stabilizer. The dextrose/dextrins do not have to be listed on the label of jams/jellies/preserves because ingredients of ingredients do not have to be listed.
PEPPERS: Can be waxed with a wax that contains corn, or the carriers, flowing agents, and solvents used to make the wax sprayable are corn-based.
PLASTIC:Corn can be chemically-inserted into plastic to make it more biodegradable. Corn can be used in adhesives. Plastic can have a cornstarch coating. Plastic can be directly made from corn.
PORK – PROCESSING: The meat may be sprayed with lactic acid, citric acid, distilled white vinegar from corn, or some other anti-bacterial agent before the meat is hung to age – an anti-bacterial agent is recommended for cattle that are not pasture-fed and –finished (see discussion here). During the processing, the equipment and/or meat may be sprayed with an anti-bacterial. The processed meat may be packaged on a Styrofoam tray containing a citric acid-saturated soaker pad underneath the meat, and then wrapped with shrinkwrap or plastic wrap. More on corn free meat processing.
POTATOES:Can be gassed with ethylene from corn to ripen them; can be treated with a corn-derived anti-sprouting agent.
POULTRY – PROCESSING:The carcass may be sprayed with citric acid or some other anti-bacterial. The poultry may be packaged on a Styrofoam tray containing a citric acid-saturated soaker pad underneath the poultry, and then wrapped with shrinkwrap or plastic wrap. A whole chicken or turkey is usually wrapped in plastic. The inside of the packaging may contain cornstarch, to keep the poultry from sticking to the packaging. More on corn free meat processing.
POULTRY:They are typically fed corn as part of their diet. If you are able to source a chicken or turkey that has not been fed corn, there are several potential “corn hurdles” to overcome during the processing of the animal. Turkey skin is sometimes waxed during plucking to help remove difficult pin feathers.
PRESERVES:Pectin often contains dextrose/dextrins as the stabilizer. The dextrose/dextrins do not have to be listed on the label of jams/jellies/preserves because ingredients of ingredients do not have to be listed.
PROCESSED MEATS (lunchmeats, sausages, hot dogs, etc.):They have to be preserved with *something*; oftentimes, salt…and, to counteract the saltiness, some kind of sugar/sweetener. The casings of sausages and hot dogs may be corny if they contain citric acid and/or a corny salt (these tend to be “natural” casings; collagen casings may be okay). Also, some people will react to the corn that was in the meat animal’s diet.
RICE:Beware “enriched” or “fortified” rices; see “Vitamins” for more information. Cross-contamination can be a concern if the rice is processed on equipment, or in a facility, that processes corn products. Can be dusted with cornstarch to prevent clumping. A starch, typically corn, can be used to polish the rice.
SAFFLOWER OIL:If bottled in plastic, the bottles can be corn-derived. Citric acid can be used as a degummer in safflower, sunflower, canola (rapeseed), soy, and flax oil.
SALAD MIX – BAGGED:May contain citric acid as an anti-bacterial.
SALT:Iodized table salt contains dextrose, which is added to stabilize the iodine compound in the salt. It is rare to find iodized salt in processed foods, although it’s good to check with the manufacturer. If you will be eating someone else’s homebaked goods, it would be worthwhile to ask about the salt they use. Canning/pickling salt is a good alternative. Some sea salts can be okay. For more information, see the Corn-tamination series post on salt.
SORBITOL:A sweet substance, but not a sugar, that occurs naturally in some stone fruits and berries, and is produced by the reduction of glucose. The source glucose can be from high fructose corn syrup, which is 50% glucose.
SOYBEAN OIL:If bottled in plastic, the bottles can be corn-derived. Citric acid can be used as a degummer in safflower, sunflower, canola (rapeseed), soy, and flax oil. Where’s the corn in citric acid?
SPICES:Dried spices can be treated with a corny preservative.
SQUASH (all):Can be coated with a wax that contains corn.
STARCH; FOOD STARCH; MODIFIED FOOD STARCH:Added starch in foods can come from several sources, but corn seems to be the most common. Unless the type of starch is specified, it’s likely cornstarch is present.
SUCROSE:Usually derived from cane or beet sugar, but I found a reference on a corn-free blog that someone spotted an English candy that included an ingredient of ” sucrose (from corn)” — I did a bit of Googling but didn’t find such a candy. When sucrose is an ingredient, it would be worthwhile to check the source of the sucrose (assuming there are no other corn-derived ingredients that would knock the food into the “not safe” category).
SUGAR – BROWN:If the ingredient just says “sugar,” need to determine if it’s cane sugar, beet sugar, or corn sugar. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
SUGAR – GRANULATED:The de-clumping agent is a starch, oftentimes cornstarch but sometimes tapioca is used instead. If the ingredient just says “sugar,” need to determine if it’s cane sugar, beet sugar, or corn sugar. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
SUGAR – POWDERED:Ordinary table sugar that’s been reduced to a fine powder. Cornstarch is commonly added to prevent caking. A few brands are made with tapioca starch instead of cornstarch, but they can be challenging to find (some are only offered during the holidays). If the ingredient just says “sugar,” need to determine if it’s cane sugar, beet sugar, or corn sugar. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
SUNFLOWER OIL:If bottled in plastic, the bottles can be corn-derived. Citric acid can be used as a degummer in safflower, sunflower, canola (rapeseed), soy, and flax oil.Where’s the corn in citric acid?
TANGELOS:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn.
TANGERINES:Can be coated with a wax that contains corn.
TEA (Loose or Bagged):Loose tea can be sprayed with maltodextrin and/or dextrose to be preserved or to enhance inferior teas; may be more of a concern with herbal teas, flavored teas, or inferior plain-leaf teas. (source:Corn Allergy & Intolerance Facebook group) The tea bags themselves can be corny.
TOCOPHEROL:(mixed tocopherols, alpha tocopherol). This is vitamin E and is produced via extraction from vegetable oil. That oil is most commonly corn or soy.
TOMATO PRODUCTS – CANNED:Often have citric acid or asorbic acid added to adjust the pH level and to prevent spoiling. As an ingredient of another product, the acid doesn’t have to be labeled because it’s in a minute amount and considered insignificant by the U.S. FDA.
TOMATOES:Can be gassed with ethylene from corn to ripen them.
TREACLE:A mixture of molasses and corn syrup; also known as “golden syrup”.
VANILLA (Extract and Pure Vanilla):Typically suspended in a corn-based alcohol. If the alcohol is corn-free, it can contain glycerin which is often corn-derived. Alcohol-free vanilla is often extracted using corn alcohol, then the alcohol is evaporated off leaving behind the corny residue, and then this is added to other liquids, resulting in this product not being corn-free in spite of being alcohol-free. [Can make corn-free vanilla extract by soaking 2 vanilla beans in 1 pint of potato or grape vodka for at least 6 weeks.]
VEGETABLE OILS:If bottled in plastic, the bottles can be corn-derived. Citric acid can be used as a degummer in safflower, sunflower, canola (rapeseed), soy, and flax oil.
VEGETABLE-ANYTHING:Unless you know exactly what the vegetables are, you should be suspicious of any ingredient with “vegetable” in the name, including vegetable oil, vegetable broth, vegetable protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and vegetable mono- and di-glycerides.
VEGETABLES:(also refer to the individual veggies) Gases, waxes, washes, and coatings — things to retard spoilage and bacteria — can be corn-derived, such as citric acid washes to prevent mold or browning. Certified organic pesticides frequently contain corn derivatives such as citric acid, xanthan gum, propylene glycol, ethanol, sorbitol, and others to preserve, emulsify, thicken, or as a solvent. For root vegetables, fertilizers may be an issue as they may also contain corn derivatives, or even corn starch or corn meal. Since many soaps contain corn glycerin or are derived from corn oil, soap sprays used on plants can be corny. For some people, veggies grown near corn can create enough of a cross-contamination to cause a reaction.
VEGETABLES- FROZEN:In addition to the same problems as fresh veggies, the preparation for freezing can introduce corn via cross contamination or application of corn starch to prevent sticking, or the use of corn-derived antimicrobials in the water used to glaze the vegetables to help maintain their shape and integrity.
VEGETARIAN RENNET:Most contain caramel color, which can be derived from corn.
VENISON:Corn feeders may be set out prior to the opening of hunting season, to attract deer and to fatten them up. Commercially-processed venison will have the same “corn hurdles” as commercially-processed beef or poultry. The ground venison may contain beef fat, to offset the leanness of the venison.
VINEGARS:It’s common for vinegars to be made from corn. Do not assume all apple cider vinegars are corn-free, as some companies cut their ACV with distilled white vinegar.
VITAMIN D: Often suspended in corn oil when added to drinks such as milk or orange juice.
VITAMIN E (added to foods):Can be derived from corn or soy. (http://cornfreelifestyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/quick-post-no-corn-added/)
VITAMINS (added to foods):Vitamins and enrichments can contain cornstarch or microcrystalline cellulose and similar derivatives to help keep the vitamin mixture smooth and non-clumping and to help the mixture to be distributed more evenly throughout a product. This does not have to be listed as an ingredient because it’s a circumstantial ingredient without nutritional impact.
WATER – TAP:City water has things added to it – chlorine can have corn ingredient carriers, most fluoride does, sometimes buffering agents such as citric acid are added to change pH, coagulants are sometimes added to help aggregate small particles for better filtering, the filtering process can introduce corn, and depending on where the water is drawn from there can be contamination from agricultural runoff – pesticides/herbicides.
WATER SOFTENER SALT:The salt can contain citric acid. Look at the MSDS (the vendor or Google can help you out with that). Plain solar salt may be your best bet for a water softener (but check the MSDS!). More on water in The Water Post.
WATER – BOTTLED:Bottled water can have corn contamination from added vitamins, minerals, or flavorings, from the filtering process, and/or from corn-based PLA plastics. More on water in The Water Post.
WATER- FILTERED:t the activated charcoal in some water filters could be from corn, or could have been “activated” using a corn based acid. Filters that add minerals back in to the water will do so via corn-based carriers. There are reports of anitmicrobial polymers such as antimicrobial toilet seats causing BIG contact reactions with corn allergics. The actual housing of the water filter could be made from an antimicrobial polymer that is corny as well. More on water in The Water Post.
XANTHAN GUM:Commonly fermented on a medium containing corn, soy, or wheat. Even when grown on a corn free medium the final product is often precipitated using ethanol from corn. Used as a thickener or emulsion-stabilizer. Can be found in commercially-prepared salad dressings, sauces, frozen foods, beverages, ice cream, egg substitutes, toothpaste, and in gluten-free foods (including homemade gluten-free baked goods). Can also be used as a stabilizer in cosmetics. There is an excellent description of how xanthan gum is made HERE.
XYLITOL: Often marketed as a “natural” sweetner, Xylitol can be a fermented on a corn medium or produced directly from corn cobs via hydrogenation. It can also be extracted from birch/beech, however corn ethanol is still used to precipitate the final product.
YEAST:Nearly all commercial yeast is grown on corn syrup, and it often contains asorbic acid as a stabilizer. Fresh yeast, however, may not have the asorbic acid.
ZEIN:A class of prolamine protein found in maize. It is usually manufactured as a powder from corn gluten meal. It may be labeled as “confectioner’s glaze” or “vegetable protein” (particularly for medications). It can be used as a coating on bakery products and produce; because it’s not water soluable it won’t rinse off produce. It can be used on cartons of doughnuts, crackers, pies, and cookies, because it’s grease-resistant. Other possible food uses:as a chewing gum base; as a rice coating for use in rice-containing premixes in order to make cooking times for all ingredients in the premix more uniform; and as a food coating to reduce fat absorption in high-fat foods. New agricultural uses:as a mulch or fertilizer coating, or as an edible hay bale wrapper. (sources:http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/12/13/zein-used-for-shellac-biodegradable-coatings-diapers%E2%80%A6/ -and- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zein)
60 thoughts on “Where’s the Corn in Foods?”
An overwhelming list! Wow!
It can be, but keep in mind that not everyone has to worry about every single thing on this list. For example many people don’t react to produce that has been ripened with ethylene gas. (I do, unfortunately.) Nor does it mean that every food on the list is ALWAYS corn-taminated. The way I preferred to use this list when it was being maintained by someone else was to skim it once, and then only visit when I wanted to know what to look out for when asking questions about a new food to try. Rather than re-reading the whole list over and over again I’d just do a control-F and search for the item and only read the entry for that item. I found it to be a much mentally healthier way to approach it. 🙂
Thanks for re posting this. Have a working list of gluten and corn free products, too. Mine is by brand and I try to include contact information when possible. It is a daunting task for one person, I agree. I started the list in 2007. It has many brands on it, but it is hard to keep current on the data, as formulations change. This generic listing is a good reference point to go by. The level of intolerance varies, like you said. Beginners should try to go all out and then slowly test out foods to see if they react. It’s the best way.
Thanks for your comment. I don’t actually keep a list of gluten and corn free foods, however. This particular list you’ve commented on is a list of how foods can contain corn, not a list of foods that don’t contain corn.
I do have a list of items I specifically use elsewhere on my site, but those items are only those which are gluten and corn free enough for ME. I don’t guarantee them to be safe for others. That list is very short because while I was diagnosed with my corn allergy in 2006, 12 months ago I became FAR more sensitive to it and ceased tolerating derivatives like xanthan gum and citric acid. At the same time, I began to react to a number of definitely corn free foods, including vegetables grown in my own garden or by farmers who use corn free fertilizers and who do not spray with anything at all let alone corn products.
As you mentioned, brands change often so I find it problematic to try to keep a list of specific items that are safe. Additionally, sensitivities vary so while a list like that may be helpful for some, for people like me it is next to useless. I find that at my current level of sensitivity, if anything has ever been processed or packaged in any way, or even been SHIPPED from farther than a couple of states away, it has become too contaminated for me to eat.
I see a number of Bob’s Red Mill products on your safe foods list. Bob’s is known to process corn products in their gluten free facilities, and there are reactions reported due to that cross contamination by even not-very-sensitive corn allergics. You might want to reconsider listing that brand.
Organic Valley is another brand which even the not-very-sensitive react to. Their milks are fortified with Vitamin D in a corn-oil carrier (you have to ask the correct questions to elicit the information about what the vitamin D is suspended in) and have given me anaphylactic reactions. Their non-fortified products give medium-sensitive people a problem due to the waxy cartons they are in. This is another brand you may wish to be cautious about recommending.
If you’d like to keep up with the products people are eating and reacting to, the Facebook group is a good place to watch: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cornallergy
I have recently been diagnosed with so many food allergies. One being Corn. My allergist told me none of my allergies were severe, however, if i eat anything with the smallest bit of corn in it (citric acid, xanthum gum), I am instantly ill. If I eat more than a little, my motorskills crash and I pass out. This list is so depressing and made me cry, but also very helpful as I have to learn to avoid. I should start a safe list. That is a great idea. Thank you for taking the time to help people like me.
OMG. Who Knew? Thanks for this, as I have corn intolerance. So much corn out there…
This is definitely insightful, yet overwhelming. I’ve never seen such an educated piece on citric acid. I have a severe intolerance(if not an allergy at this point-many symptoms have started to point in that direction), and now to corn as well. Reading this article, I am not a bit surprised. This is one that will be saved as a resource for sure! Thanks.
Hello, your list explains why I always have an allergy reaction to coco powder. I’ve been wondering about that for awhile now. Thanks for keeping this site updated.
btw, I spoke to an allergist who told me that 1 in 10 people that he sees ends up having a reaction to corn (intolerance or allergy). The problem is, that such a small part of the population is tested, that corn is still believed by the masses to be a safe vegetable to use in most processed foods, even though it is certainly not. Thanks again for your work!
Although some of your articles are dated they have been very informative and I’ve learned a lot from them. I am newly diagnosed with corn allergy and have been surfing the net about what I can and can’t eat or drink! It’s very hard and confusing but your articles have made it a little bit easier for me. Especially the one about corn being in majority of the medications they have been trying to treat me with but were just making me sicker by the day!
Hi, thanks you for posting this info. My son has fpies allergy to corn (t-cell mediated gut allergy, not anaphylactic kind). Honestly, reading this is really depressing. It seems like everything is contaminated! Is there a list anywhere of things he COULD eat? I would be grateful if you could point me in the direction of such a list.
Look for a CSA that does not use these waxes, grows organic produce, does grassfed animals, has raw butter….it makes life much easier. I almost never buy packaged – flour, mixes, frozen – foods or non-organic anymore and it takes away the constant barrage of reactions. FYI, during the period my house had undiscovered water damage, much like the issue our author had, my allergies skyrocketed. Then I realized the link and moved out temporarily. My food allergies almost went away, but I still watch out for corn. Another interesting thing is that I can eat CORN on the cob from our CSA farmer in PA! I never stopped being able to eat it. So suspicious about the use of Roundup on crops – they use it to dry them out before harvest (I actually saw my neighboring farmer, whose food I don’t eat, do this). It makes it easy to harvest, but the Roundup just sinks into the food.
Catherine if you ever get a list please share it !
This list is intended as a list of *possible* places corn can hide, not a list of all things everyone with a corn allergy has to avoid!
There are many, may blogs with lists of foods that should be “corn free”, however creating such a list is not something I would ever do. Peoples’ sensitivities are way too different, and there is really no list that is going to DEFINITELY work for you or your child. I do have a list of safe for ME foods, but that list is depressing because I’m so sensitive to cross contamination that I am eating direct from farm almost 100%. Here’s the list: https://cornallergygirl.com/2013/07/14/safe-for-me-products-the-list-of-what-i-use/
My friend Von maintains the Corn Free Food & Products List, but the disclaimers on the blog are similar to what I mentioned above- it’s really just a starting point, and the products can be changed at any time by the manufacturer without notice, so anything on the list could suddenly become unsafe any second. BTW I can’t eat one thing on any of those lists, and that’s true for most moderately sensitive corn allergics. It’s just a better starting point than “the entire grocery store” when new to corn allergy. http://corn-freefoods.blogspot.com/2014/07/corn-free-foods-products-list-july-2014.html
For an actually accurate read on what’s safe for many/most corn allergics right now, the best place to go is to the entire community. The Facebook Corn Allergy & Intolerance group has 5,000 members, and at any given point in time dozens of them should be willing to share with you what does and doesn’t work with them. https://www.facebook.com/groups/cornallergy
Corn Allergy Girl
I was diagnosed with a corn allergy many years ago. I can always tell when I have had some I didn’t know about. I get horrible pain in my joints and they will swell. Sometimes the swelling causes me to not be able to wear my rings, or fasten my jeans in the worst of cases, I can’t get them past my knees. My chiropractor is the one who diagnosed me and said that the corn allergy gives me extreme fibromyalgia symptoms. I wonder if more people with fibromyalgia are actually corn sensitive or allergic. It stinks so bad when nearly everything has some form of corn in it somewhere.
Thanks for all these details! I was about to wolf down a vitamin c powder and then saw maltodextrin on the label. When I looked it up, all the official “experts” said it was fine, but I know your lists have a solid track record of keeping me safe or letting me know what just happened when something went wrong.
Sorry for the response a full year later – maltodextrin is often from corn but could be from tapioca or rice. Call the manufacturer and ask.
Corn Allergy Girl
I have a severe alkergy to corn and latex –
Please email me – need guidance
If you need personalized guidance please join the Facebook group for corn allergy and Intolerance listed on the sidebar of my blog. On mobile or tablet that’ll be on the bottom instead of the side. While the group is primarily for corn allergy, more than half of the 5,000 members have multiple allergies including latex.
Wow! Thank you for this detailed list! Now what I need is a list of safe corn free foods? Lol My son is allergic to Corn and sadly even the smallest amount! It’s horrible and we are working very hard to find foods that work for him..he just had a reaction to lunchbox peppers from the store that clearly had corn on them 😦
I know, many people wish for this list, and people have even tried to make it. Unfortunately there are a few problems with trying to make such a thing:
1) Varying sensitivity. One person’s safe list may not be safe for you.
2) Product changes- even if a product was safe for many/most corn allergics, manufacturers can change their products at any time without notice, and they have many times. The cool news is if something was working for a lot of us, and a bunch of us write in, once in a while the company will change the product back. It has happened.
3) Availability. Most of my safe list is local spray-free produce. Unless you live near me, or I personally mail my food to you, you can’t really get it for yourself.
With all that said, there are a few resources that will help you out with feeding your poor kiddo. I will put them in order of my most recommended to least:
1) This is not a list at all, but rather a support group where you can keep abreast of what’s working for folks and get advice on what to feed your kid. There are a couple threads on safe/unsafe foods on it that people are updating constantly. It’s a Facebook group, and even if you don’t use Facebook it is entirely worth making an account just to join the group. This is not my group, I just recommend it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/cornallergy/
2) The moderator of that group has a corn free foods & products list, but it’s more like a “Mostly corn free, try at your own risk, your mileage may vary” list, for the reasons I mentioned above. It’s a better starting place than a wild guess. http://corn-freefoods.blogspot.com/
3) I do have a products list on my blog of things that are working for me. It’s my least recommended because I am both highly sensitive to corn and have dozens of other food allergies, plus a genetic blood disorder that makes me have to avoid a bunch of foods and meds for non-corn reasons. https://cornallergygirl.com/2013/07/14/safe-for-me-products-the-list-of-what-i-use/
Thank you for all of this hard work! Corn allergy is by far the worst allergy out of our family of four’s 60 allergies. It is not the most severe, but is the most prevalent in every single thing in our society. You have saved our health and livelihood. Thank you!
Wow!!! Thanks so much, I never dreamed that I would be trying to gain weight, I use to weigh167 lbs, I dropped down to 98 lbs in a couple of months, every thing I ate seam to be making me sick, I had already removed gluten from my diet but still continued to get sick.then I was told not to eat any graiins and started eliminating anything that caused a negative reaction, well pretty soon I wasn’t eating anything but vegetables, and fruits, drank water and tea.I wash all of my fruits and veggies in warm soapy water and soak them in clear vinegar, even my bananas, I peal my apples, pears, etc. Even if they are organic. I’m sick and tired of joints hurting, and dry hard flaky skin.my worse enemy is gluten,corn, soy,dairy and eggs.I’m so grateful that I found my way to and taking the time to read this site because now I realized that I’ve been getting corn and god knows what else in my system under disguise. Thank you so much, this has been very informative.
Hi Maxine, if you’ve been reading here a bit you may have picked this up, but I wanted to point out right away that your clear vinegar is most likely from corn. Depending on how sensitive you are, some of your organic produce may be too corny (or soy-y) for you too. If you haven’t already found it please check out my beginners guide for any other possible oversights and also consider joining this Facebook support group for some assistance. I hope you get to feeling as lot better as you find the hidden corn, soy, and gluten in your diet!
Just found out that I have a corn allergy, among other things… What’s left to eat? I’ve lots so much weight, try to eat “organic” veggies and cutting out most prepackaged things…. Unless I grow my own food, there’s not much left to eat.
Wow, that’s the story of my life, I suffer from so many food allergies, lost 69 pounds, actually went down to 98lbs. Lately I’ve been able to maintain118/120. At one point i only ate veggies and home made soup and bone broth. During the holidays I pigged out but I’m paying for it now, so now I’m doing a 3 day cleanse. Just yesterday I had a reaction, and I had no ldea why, I had not eaten anything different, then I remember having a conversation with my son telling him that the cheese did not taste the same and that I was not going to purchase it again, so I checked out the ingredients and found out corn starch was a newly added ingredient. So now I know that it’s imperative that I read the ingredient list on everything even if I recently purchased that same item.your blog has been very informative, I’ll be stopping by from time to time .thank you…
I am not amazed! The food industry has the upper hand on placing corn in everything we eat and drink. I have followed the eating plan of Dr. William Davis-No Wheat Belly Eating Plans. He is actually a heart doctor.
I have been doing this for 3 years. I have lost a sizeable unwanted weight. I wear the same size of talilored clothing; size 12 and I feel great and enjoy wearing my clothes. I am in awe that we have slim chances of eating things without corn. It seems like a genocide.
This list made me cry. I have crazy anxiety and I get panic attacks. For the past month I’ve only been eating Oreos and Pop Tarts just to find out that I’m allergic to corn. I’m so lost and have no idea what to do. I’m 21 years old and I’m even too afraid to drink water.
Yeah, quit reading this post. When I link people to it I tell them not to read it all at once but rather to do a ctrl f to search the page and use it as reference. If that’s not in the intro, I’ll add it soon.
Start here instead: https://cornallergygirl.com/2013/08/15/dont-panic-a-beginners-guide-to-corn-allergy/
Also maybe take a look at my allergy history page and consider that I had a personal apocalypse in 2012 and lost literally every food in my staple diet and am still alive.
I have GAD and ADHD as well as multiple chronic illnesses. I’m not dead yet and in fact enjoy my life quite a lot. I just only do what I can and only focus on what I can manage and if I can’t keep the rest from rolling around in my head, I write it down so I know it’s recorded somewhere and it helps me quiet the intrusive thoughts.
Keep a journal even if it’s not a blog. You’re going to need to record what you eat anyway to understand when you’re reacting to food. Maybe also recording what you’re worried about will help you put it down and move on.
Corn Allergy Girl, thank you for helping so many like me.: This information has been really helpful for me as my life has been a journey these last two years going from doctor to doctor, spenidng lost of money and not finding what was going on. My allergist nurse was able to finally pinpoint my severe medication challenges to pretty must any medication stemming from corn, derivatives, preservatives and even compounded meds. I’m still fine tuning foods I can eat and pretty much cook the few things I can. I’ve lost a lot of weight and am trying to sustain myself with safe foods as I’m corn moderate. Need help on what to do now that I need blood pressure medication and can’t tolerate any meds past two weeks due to the severe reactions. THe doctors have tried me on over 25 bp meds. I’m now having trouble with my compounded Xyzal and earlier, Benadryl. The Corn Allergy Girl information continue to be a blessing to me.