Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?

YES, vegan!

Xanthan gum is a byproduct of fermentation of glucose or sucrose given off by specific bacterium. The xantham byproduct is dried and forms a powder which is added to liquid to form the “gum.” For more scientific details, check out wise geek, but let it be know, xantham gum is vegan.

19 comments for “Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?

  1. Anna
    November 27, 2010 at 2:08 am

    According to my Microbiology textbook, most commercial xantham gum is produced by lactose fermentation, not glucose or sucrose fermentation. Whey is used as a raw material and xantham gum is produced as a byproduct. In this case, most xantham gum would not technically be vegan, although it wouldn’t contain any whey either.

    • @isitvegan
      December 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

      Interesting. I’m curious. How current is your microbiology book?

      • J aK
        April 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        According to Wikipedia, newer strains of Xanthamonas have been developed to utilize the whey byproduct (9 to 1) of cheese production to create xanthan gum. They site a 2010 microbiology text. Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R., & Case, C.L. (2010). Microbiology: An Introduction, 10th edition. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. Pg. 801.

        • Cory
          November 18, 2016 at 1:35 pm

          Why hasn’t this been addressed in the original post?

  2. September 16, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Xanthan gum is *ALMOST ALWAYS* cultured on corn sugar. So, it should be considered vegan.

    • lily
      May 26, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      THATS NOT TRUE. MOST OF THE FACTORIES THAT MAKE THE XANTHAN GUM USE LACTOSE PRODUCTS

    • John
      January 15, 2017 at 10:24 am

      What about the more obvious fact that a core ingredient is an exudate of a bacterium, which, besides any other considerations, is disgusting and too much the same concept as drinking an animal’s milk or eating mucus-like production from a bird’s behind?

      Besides what naturally occurs in and for our bodies, I wish food manufacturers would hurry their move away from depending on animals in their production of food, such as how Oreo has made progress even in the world of ‘junk food’. Regarding bacteria, my concern for us humans is the disgust factor and our forced tolerance for that which we should deem as disgusting.

      • @isitvegan
        January 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

        This comment is so confusing. The body is 1 to 3 percent bacteria, as calculated by the NIH. That would make humans 1 to 3 percent “gross,” right? Why would vegans avoid eating natural occurring, plant based bacteria? Do you eat mushrooms? The difference between mushrooms and “gross bacteria” is pretty fine. Read up. There is a lot of great information out there.

  3. David Friedman
    October 5, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Just got an e-mail from Whole Foods where I had asked about xanthan gum
    in the 365 Organic Teriyaki Sauce, and the 365 Organic Peanut Sauce.

    They said that all ingredients in those sauces are vegan.

    • @isitvegan
      October 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

      That’s awesome. I’m a big fan of that peanut sauce.

  4. November 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Out of 6 people who posted above, only 1 person showed any credible data. That person was J ak who at least gave me a bona-fide reference. The rest was hearsay, opinion and propaganda. Believe Whole Foods? Show me the data!

    • No whey!
      December 2, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      What data are you talking about? The “data” provided by Anna and J aK is merely a reference to a textbook which *may* contain the data we are interested in. But only those with access to this textbook are able to see if it indeed contains the relevant data. Nobody has come forward with any relevant research yet.

      Even then, the textbook would say nothing about the origins of xanthan gum used in specific products. Unless you want to attempt some sort of surprise manufacturing audit, emailing Whole Foods (or whoever) is the best evidence that anybody can reasonably be expected to obtain.

  5. Eliza
    January 11, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I have just checked Dove’s Farm, which is one of the most common in the UK and theirs is vegan as can be seen on their website.

  6. Jessica
    March 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I emailed the manufacturers of two salad dressings that are currently in my refrigerator, both of which contain xanthan gum (and one of which explicitly labeled their product as vegan). I asked if they knew what substrate the xanthan gum was fermented on. I also wrote to Bob’s Red Mill, a natural foods maker whose xanthan gum is available in health-food stores, and asked the same question. It turned out that both of my salad dressings were manufactured by Drew’s, and they said that their xanthan gum is produced on a corn-sugar or corn-starch substrate. Bob’s Red Mill says they use corn and soy products to feed the bacteria that produce their xanthan gum.

    The question of whether xanthan gum produced on a substrate of whey is vegan is probably best left to the individual vegan to determine. On the one hand, the use of an animal product in its manufacture should disqualify it from being considered vegan, even if no whey is present in the final product. On the other hand, it seems that the demand for xanthan gum does not drive the production of whey; rather, it is the production of whey as a byproduct that drives food scientists to find uses for it. Vegans, by abstaining from cheese, are not driving the production of millions of pounds of whey. It seems better to find a use for whey than to dispose of it, not only to minimize waste but also because whey disposal can have negative ecological impacts.

    • Kippy
      January 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Interesting take. I’d always thought vegetarians would avoid whey because most people use animal rennet to make cheese. I hadn’t thought of using it so it wouldn’t have to be disposed of. That sounds a bit like wearing leather because it’s a byproduct of the meat industry that needs to be used for something.

      • fruitopia
        February 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

        Wearing leather because it’s a by-product of the beef industry is like eating bacon because it’s a by-product of the ham industry.

        Finding more uses for whey just finds extra ways for the dairy mafia to make more money. It’s still contributing. Vegan means no animal products – that’s it, end of story, no grey areas.

      • March 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

        I’m a vegetarian, not a vegan, but I always look at the cheeses I buy. Many cheeses (and most cheeses manufactured in the United States) are rennet-free. Every cheese I’ve seen now lists whether or not it uses rennet as an ingredient. I’ve even seen many go a step further to specify “animal rennet”, “vegetarian rennet”, “vegetable rennet”, “microbial rennet”, etc. This is at ShopRite, which isn’t a health foods store or a store that specifically caters to more vegetarian and vegan foods like Whole Foods. I’ve actually found that more Whole Foods cheeses contain animal rennet. I find myself having to look at the packaging of the cheese they’re offering as samples because there’s no clear ingredient information near the sample trays. Anyway, there are a lot of cheeses vegetarians can eat as long as they take the time to read the packages. Animal rennet is by far not in every cheese.

    • December 16, 2014 at 9:33 pm

      My feeling is that I will use what i have left and not return it, however I would rather bake using ground flax seeds or chia seeds with water which are whole foods that are better anyway for health and not purchase future xanthan. Nutritionally speaking the seeds are better for health and i am not sure if xanthan actually adds much nutrition and it comes with this current debate. Using something that might come from byproduct of whey still makes me sad because of where it came from in the first place, so psychologically it would not be as healthy for those vegans who do it for the animals.

  7. May 17, 2016 at 12:12 am

    I dont find this to be vegan or healthy.
    If you look at Xanthan Gum on wikipedia it says “It was approved for use in foods after animal testing in 1968”.
    It was created by the Agriculture Dept.
    “Workers exposed to xanthan gum dust found evidence of a link to respiratory symptoms.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthan_gum

Leave a Reply