X is for Xanthan Gum


By Megan Barnes, Dietetic Intern 

Have you ever read a nutrition label and felt confused or intimidated by the name of some ingredients? One of the ingredients you may have come across is xanthan gum. 

What is xanthan gum and is it safe for us to consume?

You may have seen or heard the phrase, “Don’t consume a food with ingredients your 3rd grader cannot pronounce” but there are some cases where this rule does not always apply. Sometimes the foods we eat contain ingredients that sound “unhealthy” or unnecessary when in reality they are serving a necessary purpose in the food. For example, xanthan gum is used as a thickener and stabilizer in foods like salad dressings, baked products, dairy, meat, frozen foods and more. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) monitors the use of this additive in foods to ensure it is safe for human consumption.

If you are curious about the other unfamiliar ingredients in your food, look them up at www.fda.gov.

Fun Fact: Ascorbic acid is used as an additive in many foods. Ascorbic acid is just another name for vitamin C!