Modified starch, also called starch derivatives, are prepared by physically, enzymatically, or chemically treating native starch, thereby changing the properties of the starch. Modified starches are used in practically all starch applications, such as in food products as a thickening agent, stabilizer or emulsifier; in pharmaceuticals as a disintegrant; as binder in coated paper. They are also used in many other applications.
Starches are modified to enhance their performance in different applications. Starches may be modified to increase their stability against excessive heat, acid, shear, time, cooling, or freezing; to change their texture; to decrease or increase their viscosity; to lengthen or shorten gelatinization time; or to increase their visco-stability.
Acid-treated starch (E1401),, also called thin boiling starch, is prepared by treating starch or starch granules with inorganic acids, e.g. hydrochloric acid breaking down the starch molecule and thus reducing the viscosity.
Other treatments producing modified starch (with different E numbers) are:
- dextrin (E1400), roasted starch with hydrochloric acid
- alkaline-modified starch (E1402)  with sodium hydroxide or potasium hydroxide
- bleached starch (E1403)  with hydrogen peroxide
- oxidized starch (E1404)  with sodium hypochlorite, breaking down viscosity
- enzyme-treated starch (INS: 1405), maltodextrin, cyclodextrin
- monostarch phosphate (E1410) with phosphorous acid or the salts sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, or sodium triphosphate to reduce retrogadation
- distarch phosphate (E1412) by esterification with for example sodium trimetaphosphate, crosslinked starch modifying the rheology, the texture
- acetylated starch (E1420)  esterification with acetic anhydride
- hydroxypropylated starch (E1440), starch ether, with propylene oxide, increasing viscosity stability
- hydroxyethyl starch, with ethylene oxide
- Octenyl succinic anhydride (OSA) starch (E1450) used as emulsifier adding hydrophobicity
- cationic starch , adding positive electrical charge to starch
- carboxymethylated starch with monochloroacetic acid adding negative charge
Modified starch may also be a cold water soluble, pregelatinized or instant starch which thickens and gels without heat, or a cook-up starch which must be cooked like regular starch. Drying methods to make starches cold water soluble are extrusion, drum drying or spray drying.
Examples of use and functionality of modified starch
Pre-gelatinized starch is used to thicken instant desserts, allowing the food to thicken with the addition of cold water or milk. Similarly, cheese sauce granules (such as in Macaroni and Cheese or lasagna) or gravy granules may be thickened with boiling water without the product going lumpy. Commercial pizza toppings containing modified starch will thicken when heated in the oven, keeping them on top of the pizza, and then become runny when cooled.
A suitably modified starch is used as a fat substitute for low-fat versions of traditionally fatty foods, e.g., reduced-fat hard salami having about 1/3 the usual fat content. For such uses, it is an alternative to the product Olestra.
Modified starch is added to frozen products to prevent them from dripping when defrosted. Modified starch, bonded with phosphate, allows the starch to absorb more water and keeps the ingredients together. Modified starch acts as an emulsifier for French dressing by enveloping oil droplets and suspending them in the water. Acid-treated starch forms the shell of jelly beans. Oxidized starch increases the stickiness of batter.
Genetically modified starch
Modified starch should not be confused with genetically modified starch, which refers to starch from genetically engineered plants, which have been genetically modified to produce novel carbohydrates which might not naturally occur in the plant species being harvested.[dubious – discuss] The modification in this sense refers to the genetic engineering of the plant DNA, and not the later processing or treatment of the starch or starch granules.
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- ^ Starch derivatization: fascinating and unique industrial opportunities, K. F. Gotlieb, A. Capelle, Wageningen Academic Publishers, 2005, ISBN 9789076998602
- ^ a b c d e f g h Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database
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- Revise for OCR GCSE Food Technology, Alison Winson. 2003.
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- Modified Starch, Jenny Ridgwell, Ridgwell Press, 2001, ISBN 9781901151077