Healthy Surprise is going corn free! - UPDATE


Back in April we announced that we were going to be Corn-Free and not carry any corn products. The response was pretty fantastic; no one mourned the loss of corny ingredients! However, we were approached by many of our clients asking us how ‘free’ we were going to be.

Corn is everywhere – not only as a whole ingredient (think popcorn, or high-fructose CORN syrup) but it’s also used in industrial manufacturing for all types of processed foods and ingredients. For example, let’s take Maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a white powder starch used as a thickener or filler. It’s in all kinds of stuff, and is usually made from corn. At Healthy Surprise we were aware of maltodextrin and do not include any snacks which have it as an ingredient as it’s almost always made from corn.

But what about Vanilla extract? Vanilla beans, right? (actually not a bean at all, vanilla beans come from a really cool orchid, but that’s another story). Turns out a LOT (but not all) of vanilla extract is extracted with corn ethanol. This ‘contamination’ can cause corn-allergic people to have a reaction.

Or what about Citric acid? It’s one of the most common ingredients on the planet. It’s used in all kinds of products to keep them from going bad. While it can be derived from many sources, some of them can be contaminated with corn.

Table salt, or Sodium Chloride, is a mineral found in mountains and oceans, right? Right, but some sources can be contaminated with corn as well.

Are you seeing the common theme? Corn is so entrenched in our food system that it’s almost everywhere.

Our subscribers have sent us all kinds of great resources to try to keep on top of it, like this Corn Allergen List

So what is a Snackologist to do? Maltodextrin is easy. It’s usually made from corn and it’s a cheap filler ingredient, so we have no problem omitting that. But vanilla? Salt? Vitamin C? Short of Healthy Surprise building out it’s own testing laboratory (kickstarter anyone?), we don’t know how to ensure corn wasn’t used in the manufacturing process of every ingredient. So if you have a hyper-sensitivity to corn, you should always read the ingredient label and look out for ingredients you know that cause a reaction.

We’re continuing to think of ways to better address the issue. We still feel good about our corn-free claim and feel that raising awareness of the issue, and not buying any corn products will help shift the ecosystem so that corn isn’t so pervasive. If you have any ideas, please comment on this post – we’re always trying to build a better snack box.

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  • Joseph Winke
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