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Corn Allergy

Updated on February 18, 2018

The Basics

Corn allergies are not as common as wheat, milk and egg allergies but it can mean some rearranging of eating habits. Corn derivatives tend to be inexpensive and are therefore used often, primarily as sweeteners and thickeners. A corn free diet eliminates all foods and food ingredients containing corn protein.

Many packaged foods contain corn. It can be found in varying amounts in a large number of foods including alcoholic beverages, baked goods, baking mixes, beverages and beverage mixes, cakes, candies, casserole mixes, condiments, convenience foods, cookies, fruit drinks, medications, salad dressings, snack foods, soda, soups and soup mixes, and syrups. However, corn is not essential and most foods can be cooked without corn or it's derivatives.

Foods and medications are not the only things that can contain corn. Corn derivatives may also be used in cosmetics, bath powders, creams, toothpastes, and in adhesives for envelopes, stamps and stickers. Further plastic cups, plastic wrap and paper plates may be coated with corn oil.

Avoiding corn means being a detailed label reader. As corn can be found in so many foods on the market, it is important to explore substitute foods and sample menus in order to maintain a well-rounded and nutritionally complete diet. Adequate nutrition is important in recovery of the intestinal tract and immune system. Consult your dietitian or physician to determine the nutritional adequacy of your diet.

If you have any doubt about the corn content of a product, write the manufacturer and ask. Always consult your pharmacist and doctor about prescription and over-the-counter medications for corn content.

Label Reading

Corn proteins abound! This versatile and inexpensive food is used often in foods, primarily as sweeteners and thickeners. Corn oil can also be encountered frequently in food products. Although pure corn oils should not contain corn protein, they can be contaminated and should be avoided.

Scrutinize labels, and especially ingredient lists, on food packages to avoid corn proteins. As food manufacturers frequently change suppliers and ingredients, even labels on familiar brands should be reviewed. It is equally important to read labels when changing brands. Different brands of the same type of food may contain different ingredients.

Below is a list of common foods and ingredients containing corn protein. Carry this list with you, you never know when you will need to read a food label.

Common Foods and Ingredients Containing Corn Protein

Foods that may contain corn
canned, fresh, frozen or creamed
baking powder
vegetable broth
corn alcohol
vegetable gum
corn bran
vegetable starch
corn extract
corn grits
corn flour
corn gluten
corn tortillas
corn malt
corn oil
corn solids
corn starch
corn sugars
corn sweeteners
corn syrup
powdered sugar
xanthan gum
food starch
golden syrup
invert sugar
invert syrup
lactic acid
modified corn starch
high fructose corn syrup
modified food starch
hydrolyzed corn protein
hydrolyzed corn
corn syrup solids
malt syrup


There are many ingredients that can be used to replace allergenic foods during cooking or they may simply be omitted. Some substitutions you can find in your community, others may be purchased from manufacturers. A good place to start is with cookbooks and recipe resources, specifically those containing ethnic foods. Cookbooks provide a wealth of information about ingredients and their function in foods. Ethnic cookbooks commonly offer tasty recipes where the product is not compromised by a food allergy, as traditional ethnic foods are often low in allergenic foods.

Once you have some ideas, take a field trip to your local grocery stores. The learning and savings will be well worth the trip. Ingredients are also available via mail, however, the shipping can be quite expensive. Remember to read the ingredient list of all foods, especially your condiment and spice mixtures.

Identify the foods that will be the most difficult for you to give up, the ones that makeup the bulk of your daily diet, and focus on replacing these first with yummy new alternatives. Here are some substitution ideas to get you started.

Corn-Free Cooking Substitutions

  • Arrowroot flour or starch
  • Potato starch
  • Sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup Sugar syrup + 1/2 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar in place of corn syrup


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