Is Xanthan Gum Safe? Ingredient 101

Is Xanthan Gum safe? You may have noticed the ingredient xanthan gum in your favorite protein bar or salad dressing and wondered what it was and how it affects your health. I’m breaking down everything you need to know about this common food ingredient.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide that comes from Xanthomonas Campestris (2). To make xanthan gum, the source carbohydrate is first diluted with water and sugar or starch. This mixture is then fermented which results in a broth containing xanthan gum. Next, the gum is extracted and refined by precipitating it in methanol. Lastly, the xantham gum goes through a drying and milling process to make the final white powder (1).

Xanthan gum has many properties that make it a popular ingredient in the food industry. Xantham gum is stable in many different environments, including both high or low temperatures, and different pH levels. It is also highly soluble in liquids and is effective as an emulsifier. Xanthan gum is also low calorie, as it is not digested in the human gut. This makes it an appealing option for adding bulk to low-calorie foods(1).

Xanthan Gum Uses

Xanthan gum has many beneficial properties that make it a popular ingredient in the food industry. It is used in the food industry as a gelling, stabilizing, thickening, and emulsifying agent. You’ll often find xanthan gum as an ingredient in packaged foods such as ice cream, bakery products, gluten-free baked goods, salad dressings, soups, and protein bars.

Xanthan Gum and Health

Xanthan Gum is generally recognized as safe for use in foods in both Canada and the United States. As such, it is permitted for use in foods as a gelling, stabilizing, thickening, and emulsifying agent in many different food categories (3, 4).

The European Food Safety Authority also recently completed a review of the safety of Xanthan Gum for food industry use. They concluded that xanthan gum is considered non-toxic based on the available animal and human studies (2). From human studies, intakes of 10-13g of xanthan gum per day caused no adverse dietary or psychological effects. However, at higher intakes (15g/d) increased flatulence can be a side effect for some.

Is xanthan gum safe?

Xanthan Gum and Blood sugars:

Like other types of fiber, xanthan gum is not absorbed in the human gut. Instead, it travels to the large intestine where it is partially fermented by gut bacteria (2). In doing so, xanthan gum slows the digestion of other nutrients consumed at the same time, such as starch (10).

Some studies have shown that xanthan gum can reduce blood sugars when consumed as part of a food or beverage, likely due to it’s properties as a soluble fiber (5). For example, one study looking at the effects of xanthan gum in individuals with diabetes found that the addition of 12g of xanthan gum to a muffin lowered fasting and post-meal blood sugar by 38% and 31%, respectively, compared to the control (6).

A more recent study also demonstrated promising results. In this study, the effects of adding xanthan gum to a liquid meal replacement were compared. Researchers found that the addition of xanthan gum reduced post-meal blood sugar levels by 20% compared to the control group (7).


As a soluble fiber, xanthan gum has also been investigated for its potential beneficial effects on serum cholesterol levels. A study using five healthy men between ages of 26-50 investigated the effects of consuming 10-14g of xanthan gum daily (adjusted dose based on weight) in water. Researchers found that the consumption of xanthan gum daily for 23 days decreased blood cholesterol levels by 10% (9). A more recent study investigated the effects of daily intake of a soluble fiber mixture that included 31% xanthan gum. Researchers found that total cholesterol, LDL, and cholesterol ratio were lowered by daily intake of the soluble fiber blend (8).


Since xanthan gum is not absorbed by the human digestive tract, it increases the bulk of stool. It can also impact the speed at which food travels through the digestive system, though the effects differ from person to person. With high intakes of xanthan gum, some individuals report quicker gut transit time, while others report slower. As mentioned previously, flatulence is a common side effect of a large intake of xanthan gum (15g/d) due to its fermentation in the gut (11).

Bottomline: Is Xanthan Gum Safe?

Xanthan gum is generally recognized as safe and is unlikely to cause harm or adverse effects when consumed in small amounts typically found in foods. Though xanthan gum is prominent in our food system, it is only found in small amounts in packaged foods. Most foods that contain xanthan gum contain less than 0.5% of this ingredient.

Larger doses of xanthan gum used in research are generally only consumed in supplement form, and not from food sources. The potential benefits of xanthan gum in larger doses can be attributed to its properties as a soluble fiber. However, there are many other sources of soluble fiber found naturally in our food system. This includes oats, psyllium, black beans and other pulses, avocado, and potatoes. If you’re seeking potential benefits of soluble fiber in your diet, I suggest increasing your intake of these foods, rather than relying on a more processed supplement, or the trace amounts found in packaged foods.

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  1. Chaturvedi, S., Kulshrestha, S., Bhardwaj, K., Jangir, R. (2021). A Review on Properties and Applications of Xanthan Gum. In: Vaishnav, A., Choudhary, D.K. (eds) Microbial Polymers. Springer, Singapore.
  2. EFSA FAF Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings), 2023. Re-evaluation of xanthan gum (E 415) as a food additive in foods for infants below 16 weeks of age and follow-up of its re-evaluation as a food additive for uses in foods for all population groups. EFSA Journal 2023; 21(5):7951, 41 pp.
  3. List of Permitted Emulsifying, Gelling, Stabilizing, Thickening Agents, 2023, Health Canada.
  4. FOOD ADDITIVES PERMITTED FOR DIRECT ADDITION TO FOOD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION. Subpart G – Gums, Chewing Gum Bases and Related Substances, 2023, U. S Food & Drug Administration.
  5. Alshammari NA, Taylor MA, Stevenson R, Gouseti O, Alyami J, Muttakin S, Bakalis S, Lovegrove A, Aithal GP, Marciani L. Effect of Intake of Food Hydrocolloids of Bacterial Origin on the Glycemic Response in Humans: Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 14;13(7):2407. doi: 10.3390/nu13072407.
  6. Osilesi O, Trout DL, Glover EE, Harper SM, Koh ET, Behall KM, O’Dorisio TM, Tartt J. Use of xanthan gum in dietary management of diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Oct;42(4):597-603. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/42.4.597.
  7. Tanaka H, Nishikawa Y, Kure K, Tsuda K, Hosokawa M. The Addition of Xanthan Gum to Enteral Nutrition Suppresses Postprandial Glycemia in Humans. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2018;64(4):284-286. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.64.284.
  8. Vuksan V, Sievenpiper JL, Jovanovski E, Jenkins AL, Komishon A, Au-Yeung F, Zurbau A, Ho HVT, Li D, Smircic-Duvnjak L. Effect of soluble-viscous dietary fibre on coronary heart disease risk score across 3 population health categories: data from randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2020 Jul;45(7):801-804. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2019-0728.
  9. Eastwood MA, Brydon WG, Anderson DM. The dietary effects of xanthan gum in man. Food Addit Contam. 1987 Jan-Mar;4(1):17-26. doi: 10.1080/02652038709373610.
  10. Chen, Maoshen & Guo, Liping & nsor-atindana, John & Goff, H. & Zhang, Wenxi & Zhong, Fang. (2020). The effect of viscous soluble dietary fiber on nutrient digestion and metabolic responses Ⅱ: In vivo digestion process. Food Hydrocolloids. 107. 105908. 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2020.105908.
  11. Daly J, Tomlin J, Read NW. The effect of feeding xanthan gum on colonic function in man: correlation with in vitro determinants of bacterial breakdown. Br J Nutr. 1993 May;69(3):897-902. doi: 10.1079/bjn19930089.

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