Modified Starches

What is it?

Modified starches are plant-based ingredients/additives used in food, derived from cereals (maize and wheat) and tubers (potatoes). They belong to the Carbohydrates family.

They are used for their functional properties and are a very minor component of the food recipe.

Their calorific value is 4kcal/g (similar to all other carbohydrates).

Modified starches are based on starch extracted from grains and vegetables, such as wheat, maize, potatoes. This starch has subsequently been improved to develop specific characteristics, such as the ability to bring texture and structure to the food to which they are added. Depending on the process, starches can get specific functionalities that are beneficial in certain food preparation techniques.

“Modified” does not mean genetically modified. The agricultural raw materials used in starch production in Europe are conventional, non-GMO.

Where and Why is it used?

In food, the aim of modified starches is to provide an answer to the constraints of food applications (for example, in cooking, freezing/thawing, canning or sterilisation) and to make the ingredients compatible with modern food processing.

Modified starches are used for example in food products that need to be microwaved, freeze-dried, cooked at high temperatures or baked and fried so that the texture of such foods does not change during the cooking process. Modified starches are mainly used in chips, canned soups, instant pudding, low-fat ice cream, cheese sauces, powder coated foods (such as cocoa-dusted almonds), and candies.

Starch is a binder used especially for sauces or soups, but it is not stable and releases water after long storage in the fridge.The common objective to most of these transformations is to limit the natural tendency of the starch to release the water. During the cooking of soup, for example, the native starch is hydrated in contact with water. The starch granules expand and the viscosity of the solution increases, giving it a particular texture.

Twelve modified starches are authorised as food additives in the EU and are labelled either by their specific names or by their E-number on the ingredient list. As with any additives used in food in Europe, they have undergone rigorous testing by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) – most recently in 2017- and their use in food and beverages is regulated under Regulation (EC) 1333/2008 on food additives.


Ingredient family

Modified starches

Energy value

4 kcal/g


Ingredients List:

  • * Starch [for starches modified physically or with enzymes]
  • Modified Starch (or relevant E-number) [for modified starches regulated as food additives in the EU]

* Botanical Origin is added if desired and/or required for allergen declaration reasons (eg. wheat/maize/potato starch)

Nutritional Table: Carbohydrates

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