What is it?
Xanthan gum is a gum formed during the fermentation of vegetable matter. Commercially it is dried up and ground into a fine white powder, widely available at grocery stores and popular in gluten-free baking. It is actually one of the newest food ingredients having been discovered in the 1950s as part of a Department of Agriculture research project to find useful corn products and was approved by FDA only in 1968.
What does it do?
Xanthan gum is a multifunctional ingredient. It is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration for direct addition to food1 and functions as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener, and suspending agent. It can often be found in salad dressings and sauces. In oral and personal care products it functions much the same way, and is used as a thickener and stabilizer.
How is it made?
The production of xanthan gum involves a multi-step microorganism introduction preparation, followed by fermentation in large stainless steel tanks. After fermentation is complete, the broth is pasteurized to kill the organisms before the product is recovered. Typically, xanthan gum is recovered from the fermentation broth by alcohol precipitation. The alcohol is then removed, and the resulting product dried, milled, tested, and packaged.
What are the alternatives?
Guar gum is one naturally derived alternative. Synthetic ingredients like Carbomer are also available, but would not meet our Stewardship guidelines.
Is this the right option for me?
There are no known risks associated with xanthan gum as it is used in our products.
Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with naturally derived ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.
1 21 CFR 172.695