What Is Xanthan Gum and Is It Clean Label?

What is xanthan gum and is it clean label?


Xanthan gum is a hydrocolloid manufactured using a natural fermentation process, converting sugars with the microorganism Xanthomonas campestris.



What’s a Hydrocolloid?

Hydrocolloids are water soluble long chain polysaccharides.

Polysaccharide = a carbohydrate (e.g., starch, cellulose…) whose molecules consist of sugar molecules bonded together.


Where does xanthan gum come from?

  • The microbe is commonly found on green leaves such as cabbage.
  • Various sugars can be used so that product can be GMO free and Kosher.




What forms is Xanthan Gum available in?

After xanthan gum is produced, it is dried and ground into a powder of various mesh sizes.



What is the functionality of xanthan gum?

  • Thickens, but will not gel by itself
  • Cold water soluble
  • Acid & heat resistant
  • Suspending agent
  • Forms a thick interfacial layer
  • Pseudo plasticity allows yield stress to maintain emulsion, but thins out with shear for improved pouring and mouthfeel  [think: salad dressing is thick, but when you shake it up it thins out].


Xanthan gum is the most widely used gum for sauces, dressings, dry mix & still beverages.





What Foods Commonly Use Xanthan Gum?

  • It is one of the top 10 ingredients used in foodservice
  • Dry mixes: provides instant viscosity & suspension
  • Marinades, sauces & gravies: improves texture
  • Salad dressings: suspends spices & emulsifies
  • Juice drinks: improves texture & suspends pulp
  • Frozen foods: reduces ice crystal formation
  • Relishes: prevents syneresis (liquid separation)
  • Bakery fillings: provides texture & reduces bleeding




Is xanthan gum considered clean label?

Yes. Although there is consumer misunderstanding of this ingredient, xanthan gum is considered “clean label” according to clean label industry influencers.

Click here to see our list of key clean label influencers. 



Why do some consumers dislike xanthan gum in their products?


Some consumers may dislike xanthan gum for the following reasons:


1. Why is this in my food?

“Xanthan” is not a an easily-understood ingredient such as: cane sugar, water, salt, cocoa powder, etc.


2. I don’t like the way it sounds.

“Xanthan” is not easy to pronounce and according to consumers it sounds very chemical.


3. I don’t like the way it looks.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen consumer pushback with food and beverage products that have an ingredient list containing an ingredient that has an “x” in the name [think: consumer dislike of maltodextrin].

Click here for free clean label consumer insights.


Xanthan gum is a familiar ingredient, here’s why

Nevertheless, xanthan is still a familiar ingredient. Xanthan gum is one of the few hydrocolloids that actually can be found at premium, organic retail grocery stores and in kitchen cupboards of the everyday cook. i.e. “Yeah, mom had a bag of xanthan in her pantry.”



Some additional reading we think you’ll like


What Is Maltodextrin?

What Is Carrageenan?