XANTHAN GUM Dr.Kumar Pati, CEO, Best Nutrition,Hayward,CA USA


Dr.Kumar Pati, CEO, Best Nutrition,Hayward,CA USA



The name xanthan gum is derived from the bacteria Xanthomas compestris.  The importance of this microorganism is its ability to ferment glucose into the initial stages of the polysaccharide we know as xanthan gum.   The product formed by these bacteria is a slimy gel used to protect itself from viruses and prevent from drying out.  Further investigation and experimentation by the United States Department of Agriculture resulted in the production of a colorless slime when combined with corn sugars.  The effects of this development are parallel to corn starch and guar gum, showing properties of a thickening agent.


The composition of xanthan gums’s polysaccharide chain is made up three different sugars: glucose, mannose, and glucturonic acid, which is similar to the chemistry of starch and cellulose.   Because of its natural sugar composition, it is classified as a food additive primarily functioning as a rheology modifier.  As a thickening agent and a stabilizer, xanthan gum can increase the viscosity of liquids using only small concentrations.  This increase in viscosity will be affected with higher shear rates illuminating the effects of pseudoplasticity.  In conditions of shear force, a solution with xanthan gum will thin out thus making more liquid.  When the forces are removed, the solution will thicken again.   Many food manufacturers utilize xanthan gum as an ingredient in their recipes to improve  the appearance without altering the taste or color of the finished product.  It has the ability to create a homogenous mixture with no clumps  allowing all the ingredients to be evenly distributed in salad dressings.   As for sauces, xanthan gum helps to prevent oil separation by not acting as an emulsifier, but rather a stabilizing agent.   This food additive is used in other food applications to maintain a smooth texture in a ice creams and toothpaste, and an adhesive for gluten-free foods.


Extensive research has been conducted to verify xanthan gum’s safety and toxicity as a food additive.  Many countries includingUSA,CanadaandEuropehave deemed it as food safe.   However, some people do experience allergic reactions resulting in symptoms of diarrhea, temporary high blood pressure and headaches.  It is namely those with allergens to corn sugar that will have a reaction to xanthan gum.




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