Individuals with a true allergy to corn can have a difficult time avoiding this amazingly pervasive ingredient.  As you’ll see below, it’s not just corn syrup, corn starch, masa flour, etc that’s the problem.  There are a huge number of food additives and food preservatives that are derived from that one simple vegetable, corn.  


Individuals who are truly allergic to corn have significantly more severe symptoms than those whose digestive systems are simply corn intolerant.  People with an allergy to corn may have chronic diarrhea, unintentional weight loss, severe bloating and cramping, ulcerations and/or bleeding of the gastric mucosa, and chronic fatigue.  Rarely, some individuals may have an anaphylactic reaction to corn.


Many individuals who discover they have a corn allergy may already cautiously read the label on every food item, scanning for corn flour, masa flour, corn meal, corn syrup, and the words “derived from corn”.  Yet, even some apparently corn-free foods still make them feel awful.  Or worse, their health never improves after eliminating corn and they don't know why. 

If you suffer from an allergy to corn you should beware of the following list of food additives.  Each of these additives can be made from corn and could make you sick.  Fortunately, many companies are beginning to print allergy warnings on their food items that say “does not contain  . . . ” or “may contain  . . . “.  However, food companies themselves may not be aware of the fact that an ingredient such as gluconolactone or ethyl maltol may be derived from corn.


If the food you pick up does not explicitly state the allergy information then don't make any assumptions.  Print this lengthy list out and keep it in your wallet or purse so that you can check food labels for these hidden sources of corn.  Keep in mind that the safest way to eat delicious meals and ensure there is no hidden corn allergens is to cook a meal from fresh ingredients yourself.  Having an allergy to corn may be a great motivation to stock your kitchen and start cooking! 

Food Additives That May Contain Corn:

Calcium lactate

Calcium stearate

Calcium stearoyl lactylate



Ethyl maltol

Fumaric acid


Glucono delta-lactone



Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

Lactic acid


Linoleic acid








Potassium gluconate

Propylene glycol monostearate

Sodium ascorbate or other ascorbates

Sodium stearoyl fumarate

Sodium-, Magnesium-, Calcium- or Potassium-fumarate

Stearyl citrate

Tocopherol (alpha-Tocopherol, vitamin E)


Farlow, C. Food Additives: A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe and What's Not. 1993.