Modified Wheat Starch: The Gluten-free Source of Fiber.
Gluten is a complex term these days. Consumers are asking for it to be removed from baked goods, while bakers struggle to find replacements and substitutes for ingredients. Modified wheat starch is one ingredient that is used as an excellent dietary fiber source in many bakery products. And despite the name, it doesn’t have to concern people with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is defined as a hereditary, chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestine triggered by the ingestion of certain storage proteins from grains referred to as gluten. The word “gluten” connotes different meanings. Gluten can mean the protein residue called corn gluten after isolating starch from corn.

Or, it can refer to the unique, viscoelastic protein of wheat that is commercially sold in the baking industry as vital wheat gluten. In the context of celiac disease, the term “gluten” pertains to the family of proteins from wheat, rye, barley and triticale that cause dietary problems for people with celiac disease.

Labeling gluten-free

In August 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued the final rule on gluten-free labeling of foods under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 to provide truthful and accurate information to individuals with celiac disease and to those who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance. The term “gluten-free” is defined to mean that the food contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten. A food that fails to meet a “gluten-free” claim will be deemed misbranded.

The reported annual sales of gluten-free foods is growing significantly in the U.S. and is projected to reach $2.0 billion in sales by 2020. Many of these gluten-free foods are fortified with fibers. Traditional dietary fiber sources as well as those from resistant starches are used in the formulations—such as modified wheat starch.

Does modified wheat starch contain gluten?

Fibersym® RW, a RS4-type resistant wheat starch, can be made gluten-free and be used to enhance the fiber content of gluten-free food products. During its manufacture, a purified stream of wheat starch slurry coupled with the conditions of the modification process bring the residual gluten content to less than the regulatory limit of 20 parts per million based on R-Biopharm RIDASCREEN® assay. Thus, despite Fibersym’s labeling declaration as “modified wheat starch” which contains the word “wheat,” it can be considered a gluten-free fiber source.

Fibersym as a gluten-free fiber source will help bakers and food formulators make informed decisions about incorporating Fibersym in gluten-free food products.


  1. Atchley, C. 2017. Building a better gluten-free product.
  2. Berry, D. 2017. Special Report: Gluten-free enters the mainstream.
  3. Day, L., Augustin, M.A., Batey, I.L., and Wrigley, C.W. 2006. Wheat gluten uses and industry needs. Trends in Food Science & Technology 17:82-90.
  4. Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. 2018. Food Allergen Residue Analytical Report on Fibersym® RW. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.
  5. Food and Drug Administration. 2013. Food Labelling: Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods. Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 150, August 5.
  6. Maningat, C.C. and Seib, P.A. 2013. RS4-type resistant starch: Chemistry, functionality and health benefits. In p. 43-77, Resistant Starch: Sources, Applications and Health Benefits, Shi, Y.-C. and Maningat, C.C., eds., Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, IA.
  7. Packaged Facts. 2015. U.S. Gluten-Free Food Retail Market Reaches $973 Million

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