ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cutting Corn Out of Your Diet

Updated on November 26, 2011

Corn may just be one of the most difficult allergens to live with. It looks easy, until you start looking deeper. But with a little knowledge and ingenuity, and a willingness to experiment and learn to live simply, you can master a corn allergy.

First, you need to learn to recognize corn on a label. While the top 8 allergens, soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish; must be clearly labeled on all food products, corn does not make the list. Therefore it can hide under names such as maltodextrin, zein, and microcrystalline cellulose. A great list of corn derivatives is found on Jenny Connor's website, here. Print it out, familiarize yourself with the terms. (You may want to stock your printer)

Once you learn the names that corn hides under, you also need to know ways that corn derivatives may be hidden in a food product. While I use the word 'hidden', to food companies the process is not meant to be deceptive. Corn shows up unexpectedly in products sometimes. It can be used as an ingredient of an ingredient. As long as the corn derivative shows up in less than a specific percent of the total food, it doesn't need to be listed. So when a label reads "tomato paste" that tomato paste may have the ingredients of tomatoes and citric acid. The citric acid may be corn derived. And there's probably only barely enough to cause a reaction. (If you're the one reacting though, it's way too much!)

Corn derivatives are also often used as an anticaking agent, to stop powders from clumping up into unpleasant little hardened globules. As such, they appear under innocent seeming labels like "spices" or "salt". Corn derivatives are also frequently found under the term "vitamin enriched", used as a carrier for the vitamins to make it easier to measure appropriately and to keep them from clumping up.

Some people who are avoiding corn also need to avoid corn that has been fermented into alcohol (ethanol). Which means that flavorings are just as off limits as that evening cocktail. (At least, until you find a corn-free option, something fermented from grapes or rice or potato)

If corn derivatives are used as an industry standard, they don't have to be labeled either. Some meat products are rinsed in a (corn derived) citric acid wash before they reach the store. This process is meant to kill off any harmful bacteria that may have come in contact with or begun to grow on the meat during the butchering and packaging process. However, if you're anaphylactic to all corn products, you may prefer to take your chances with E. Coli. (Note: the author does not recommend this concept. If you can't find safely processed, appropriately handled meat, go vegetarian.) The citric acid rinse does not need to be labeled and store personnel aren't always aware of this process. They may be convinced to call and verify the exact packaging process from farm to package. Often they are surprised at what shows up.

Packaging is one more potentially corny pitfall. Cornstarch helps stop sticky things from sticking. It's dusted on plastic cryo-vac, used to keep machinery moving smoothly, and generally turns up when verifying the entire "packaging process". Vigilant corn avoiders need to actually contact companies and ask specifically if cornstarch or any other corn derivatives are used in the packaging process if they want to avoid all traces of corn.

The final way that corn derivatives find their way into food without being labeled is through cross contamination. Cross contamination simply means that machinery was used for a corn product (or a product containing corn derivatives) and then used for another product before being thoroughly cleaned. While the product itself has no potential for being generally 'unsafe', there is a risk that corn derivative residue has settled on the otherwise safe product, making it unsafe for the corn avoider.

So there you have it. When diagnosed with a corn allergy, learn to read labels, and then how to contact companies. It's overwhelming at first, but once you start to learn what's safe and what's generally safe or unsafe, things get easier and you fall into a groove. A safe one!

Watch for part two: Cutting Corn: Beyond the diet.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • msviolets profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      The number of ingredients that can be derived from corn is simply staggering, Elisha.

    • Elisha Jachetti profile image

      Elisha Jachetti 

      5 years ago

      It is scary to realize how many ingredients are hidden from food labels. Corn is used in quite a few things and if not the whole food, corn starch is rampant.

    • msviolets profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Avoiding corn really does open up your eyes regarding our food supply. It's something we take for granted; but is so much more than what we see in a package. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Natashalh profile image


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      I have been trying to cut down the amount of corn I eat, but it seems like corn is in everything! Corn is even used as the base for many "natural flavors." I was amazed when I found out that natural flavor doesn't mean it really came from the item it is emulating, it just means it was not entirely created with chemicals in a lab.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)