Generally, yes, modified food starch is gluten-free in North America.
Modified food starch is used as a food additive, typically to thicken or stabilize a food product, or as an anti-caking agent. In the United States when wheat is used as an ingredient, it must be declared on the label as modified wheat starch or modified food starch (wheat). Modified food starches can be made from a variety of foods, including corn, waxy maize, tapioca, potato, or wheat.
In North America the most common sources are usually gluten-free (i.e. modified corn, waxy maize, and potato). If a food product manufactured in North America has modified food starch listed as an ingredient, but “wheat” is not listed on the label, then the food starch should be safe to eat. By law, companies are required to clearly list that wheat is included in the ingredients. It’s important to always check the label.
Additionally, in the past, cross-contact has been a concern with modified food starch due to facilities not following strict gluten-free guidelines. We recommend contacting the company directly for more information on their products if you have any questions.
When looking out for regular gluten-free starches (not modified food starch) to use in home cooking, there are a number of companies who claim their products are fully safe and gluten-free based on their ingredients and precautions taken in their production facilities. Here are a few examples:
Any information on the gluten content of particular brands shared above was obtained during the last update of this page. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for the latest info or if you have any questions.