Recently a comment had raised questions about companies listing things as CORN FREE. The company claimed that the University of Nebraska checked their product for corn and deemed it corn free. I wrote to the University of Nebraska to ask if they have heard of the company and tested their products. This was the response
“My colleagues and I manage a research group here at the University of Nebraska called the Food Allergy Research & Resource Program. As part of that program, we develop test methods for the detection of proteins from specific allergenic foods that might contaminate or be present in other foods. We also perform testing services for food companies including companies who wish to use various “free-from” claims on products such as gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
However, I have no knowledge of a company called Authentic Foods. Our group does not have an analytical method to test for corn so we would certainly not have performed any testing for corn for this or any other company. I do not recall that I have ever talked to Authentic Foods and certainly have not any time in recent months. I would never have told them that xanthan gum is corn-free. We know that xanthan gum is a product of fermentation and would have strongly suspected that corn-based ingredients were used in that fermentation particularly corn syrup. Thus, I cannot confirm and would doubt that our group ever gave this advice to Authentic Foods.
Because our group is rather well known as a source of reliable information on food allergies, we have had past experiences where companies have claimed that we have made statements that we have not made or done testing that we have not done. If they make such claims on web sites and I find out about it, I ask them to take down any inaccurate statements. Most have then done so. If you can find that Authentic Foods makes this statement publicly on a web site, let me know and I will ask them to take it down.
I have just gone to the web site of Authentic Foods and see that they make gluten-free products. I know that xanthan gum is a common ingredient in gluten-free products. But, I have also just checked with our laboratory and we have never testing products for Authentic Foods for gluten either. I could not find any reference to corn-free on their web site in my initial search.
I would also indicate to you that, in the U.S., there is no regulatory definition for terms such as corn-free on product labels. Thus, companies can establish their own definitions and there can be considerable variability. Obviously that is not a desirable situation as such terms can sometimes be quite misleading.
I am sorry if you have had problems with this product. But I don’t think that anyone at the University of Nebraska has assisted this company in any way.
Steve Taylor, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Food Allergy Research & Resource Program
Dept. of Food Science & Technology
University of Nebraska
Lincoln NE 68583-0919