Expandex modified tapioca starch, is it safe? I assume most folks on special multiple allergy diets have cast an uneasy eye on the new Expandex modified tapioca starch. I recently purchased a bag to experiment with. I also did a little investigating on the product. I’d like to answer your many questions on how it’s made. Find out if it is safe for you to use.
I contacted Corn Products U.S. technical support last week. The company representative finally responded after a week of waiting. Perhaps that is a good sign. The representative may have been digging deep to make sure the information presented is factual and accurate.
They claim that as a single ingredient Expandex is safe for folks with corn allergies.
They say that Expandex is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Expandex also does not contain aspartame. They cannot say whether or not they are ‘safe’ for Feingold or Failsafe dieters beyond these claims.
The company will not disclose how Expandex is made, as it is a trade secret. They did say that the process is similar to processes used for other modified starches.
What Processes are Used to Make Modified Starches?
Modified Starches are degraded through various processes depending on the desired outcome. Methods may include: cross-linking, acid treating, alkaline modification, bleaching, enzyme treating, pre-gelatinizing, and the use of oxidation.
Manufacturers alter food starches in order to create products with a longer shelf life and with better freeze and thaw cycles. The most common modifications include cross-linking. That is a process that toughens the starch granule. Cross-linking makes the starch resistant to heat and acid and chemical substitution. This creates better freeze and thaw cycles.
Corn Products U.S. says: Expandex Modified Tapioca Starch is made in a dedicated facility where no gluten or corn are processed.
Is Modified Starch Organic?
The answer is no, unless the manufacturer declares the product organic. At this time I have yet to find a single such product. Traditionally modified starches have used harmful chemicals like chlorine to chemically alter the flour. Now manufacturers can process flours using a special heating technique. This technique avoids utilization of harmful chemicals. This is the exception and not the norm. Additionally, there is no way to know if the original flour used is itself an organic grain, conventional, or a GMO.
Maybe new USDA regulations on organic labeling and more public interest in organic and natural foods will change things. We need more natural, healthier alternatives to the processed modified food starches in our food. Without the commitment from Corn Products U.S. to disclose the method they use in making Expandex, consider the worst case scenario. If you have to exclude chemicals from your diet, Expandex might not be the product for you.
Our Review of Expandex in Our Recipes
We did bake a few of my family’s favorite bread recipes with Expandex added and were impressed with the results. Expandex does all that the product claims. It lengthens the shelf-life of the bread. It cuts down tremendously on crumbliness. It also provides a ‘sandwich’ worthy home-baked bread without using yeast.
If you’re concerned about the chemical elements in Expandex, don’t use it. You could get similar successful results in recipes by using natural gums. Try guar gum or xanthan gum instead. You could also use other natural binders like as kefir (made with milk) and natural fruit pectins like apple pectin or apple sauce. Expandex Modified Tapioca Starch is available to purchase through Amazon.com.