Xanthan Gum Adulteration: How to identify & avoid this Industrial Malpractice

Xanthan Gum Adulteration: How to identify & avoid this Industrial Malpractice

Xanthan gum, a polysaccharide widely used in food and industrial applications for its thickening and stabilising properties, is vulnerable to adulteration, for cost reduction and increased profit margins. Dilution with inferior substances increases volume without raising costs significantly, leading to economic fraud. 

Mislabeling and substitution with similar gums further deceive consumers. Adulteration not only undermines its functional properties but also raises safety concerns regarding microbial contamination. 

In India, there are three major brands that capture the whole market:

  1. Deosen
  2. Fufeng
  3. Meihua

All three are imported to India and sold through third party sellers & traders. There is a major  adulteration problem that happens between procurement & selling. Ensuring the purity through reputable sourcing and thorough testing is crucial for maintaining product integrity and consumer safety.

Modes of Adulteration of Xanthan Gum

Here are some common methods of adulteration:

  • Dilution with other substances: It can be mixed or diluted with cheaper gums or starches to increase the volume without increasing the cost significantly.
  • Addition of fillers: Adulterants such as talc, chalk, or sand may be added to increase its weight and volume, thereby reducing the cost for the seller.
  • Mislabeling: Sellers might label it as pure product when it actually contains other gums or additives, deceiving consumers about the quality of the product.
  • Substitution with other gums: Lower-cost gums that have similar properties to xanthan, such as guar gum or locust bean gum, may be substituted for xanthan gum without proper labelling
  • Fake Packaging: Packaging similar to the major brands might be used to sell substandard quality.
  • Contamination: Adulteration can also occur due to contamination during processing, storage, or transportation, where foreign materials or microbes are introduced to it.

How to Identify Adulterated Xanthan Gum

Points to consider when trying to identify adulterated xanthan gum:

  • Appearance and Texture: Pure xanthan gum is a fine, off-white powder with a neutral odor. Any deviation from this, such as unusual color or texture, could indicate adulteration.
  • Solubility: It is highly soluble in water, forming a viscous solution. Adulterated xanthan gum may have reduced solubility or form clumps when mixed with water.
  • Purity Testing: Conduct purity tests, such as viscosity measurements or spectroscopic analysis, to  detect any adulterants.
  • Microscopic Examination: Adulterants like starch or talc can be detected under a microscope, as they have different morphologies compared to xanthan gum particles.
  • Chemical Analysis: Perform chemical tests, such as Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) or chromatography, to identify the presence of specific adulterants.
  • Price Comparison: If the price is significantly lower than the market average, it could be an indicator of adulteration with cheaper substances.

By combining these methods, you can increase the likelihood of identifying adulterated xanthan gum and ensure the quality and safety of your product.

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