Is Xanthan Gum Vegan

Being committed to a vegan lifestyle is not as easy as it sounds. However, over time, many people get into the habit of looking at food labels before purchasing any edible product to ensure they are vegan.

Xanthan gum is one of the common ingredients found in many foods. But is Xanthan gum vegan? 

Xanthan gum is a food additive that is often used as a thickening agent in salad dressings or mayo packets. It's been used in the US food supply for decades, and you've likely consumed it unknowingly many times. It is usually a powdered sugar made from fermented bacteria and carbohydrates. 

This blog will cover everything about Xanthan gum and help you clarify the most-asked question, “Is Xanthan gum vegan?” Let's jump into it.

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a form of food additive that was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe in 1969.

Since it's an excellent emulsifier, thickener, and binder, people use it in soups, sauces, gravies, salads, ice creams, and baking recipes. Not just in edibles, it is also found in personal care, medical and industrial products. 

It appears as food additive number E415 on many food labels and usually comes in a fine powdered or gel-like form.  

Xanthan gum is mainly made from glucose sourced from soy, dairy, wheat, or corn. The most significant ingredient, however, is bacteria. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Xanthomonas campestris is a type of bacteria found in xanthan gum, which is where its name comes from. Its main aim is to ferment glucose. It may sound odd, but fermenting sugar is a well-known process in the American food sector. 

It is not found in nature and has to be manufactured. According to the USDA, it's made by fermenting a type of carbohydrate, such as glucose or sucrose, with bacteria.

Then alcohol is added to dry it and turn it into a powder. The sugar can come from many different sources, such as corn, wheat, soy, and dairy. 

Why Do People Use Xanthan gum?

  • The first and obvious reason is that it's 100% vegan and has no animal-based ingredients. 
  • Xanthan gum does not interfere with the overall texture and flavor of the food.
  • It's used in baking recipes to soften the sourdough bread or cake
  • Xanthan gum provides a better and smoother texture and is gluten-free. 
  • It's helpful in the stabilization of emulsions and suspensions of particles in the fluids. 

Mode of action – How does it work?

Scientifically speaking, because of its long sugar chains, xanthan gum exhibits chemical binding capabilities with water and both organic and inorganic compounds.

Due to its sluggish reaction speeds, xanthan gum thickens liquids when combined with them, which has several health advantages. 

How Is Xanthan Gum Made?

Xanthan gum is produced when the Xanthomonas campestris bacteria strains are fed a glucose solution obtained from dairy, soy, or corn. 

Here's the not-so-scary part – The bacteria is a deadly plant pathogen that causes bacterial leaf blight, black rot, and citrus canker disease. Even though this bacteria is not harmful to people, it can destroy crops if not controlled. 

Interestingly, the manufacturing procedure for xanthan gum is the same as that of producing yogurt. That means it’s produced through fermentation.

The process involves fermenting simple carbohydrates or sugars using a specific bacterial variant, Xanthomonas campestris.

Simple sugars, or simple carbohydrates, are fermented by a particular strain of bacteria known as Xanthomonas campestris throughout this process.

When bacteria break down sugar, it turns into a slimy and sticky material. After fermenting the entire sugar batch, alcohol (usually ethanol or isopropanol) is combined with the viscous liquid.

This procedure facilitates the gum's solidification and water separation. The solidified gum is cleaned and dried before being milled into xanthan gum powder, which is used as a food additive. 

Xanthan Gum Nutrition Facts

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of Xanthan gum contains the following ingredients: 

Nutrient  Quantity 
Protein  0 g
Carbohydrate 77.8 g
Total fat  0 g
Energy  333 kcal
Total sugars  0 g
Dietary fiber 77.8 g
Sodium  2890 mg
Calcium 0 g
Cholesterol  0 g

From this table, we can see that Xanthan gum can be easily used in baking and cooking without adding many calories, carbohydrates, or fat. 

Is Xanthan Gum Safe? 

Given the small amount of safe ingredients, Xanthan gum is entirely safe to eat. After all, it only makes up about 0.05–0.3% of a food product. Experts say it's likely safe when up to 15 grams per day are taken.

Like other food additives, consuming too much of it may cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating and gas. If you have any digestive issues, this could make things worse or aggravate an already sensitive stomach.

Xanthan gum is produced from corn and soy, so it may induce an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to those chemicals.

All types of xanthan gum are processed in such a way that only tiny amounts of residual proteins from these fermentation sources remain.

However, this may still be a concern for people with allergies. Pregnant women, premature infants, and those with allergies need to avoid foods containing xanthan gum. 

Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?

So, after looking at its ingredients and manufacturing process, we can say it's 100% vegan.  

Xanthan gum is made by fermenting carbohydrates. Nothing about this procedure appears to be against vegan rules, but many people question how some xanthan gums can be non-vegan.

Not all sources of the sugar (carbohydrate) utilized to manufacture xanthan gum are the same. They come from a variety of sources, including lactose, wheat, corn, and cane sugar.

As we explained earlier, it's made from the fermentation of sugars and doesn't contain any animal products or gluten. It’s no surprise that it's a vegan's go-to choice for making watery substances denser, like sauce or mayo. 

How is it vegan?

Xanthan gum technically fits vegan food standards because it is made from plant-based sugars and microorganisms, neither of which are animal products. However, questions concerning alternate agricultural and production processes exist in the vegan environment.

Although xanthan gum can be grown on several surfaces, including lactose obtained from milk, research shows that glucose outperforms in terms of supply, quality, and production.

Using plant-based alternatives is also less costly, and plant-based products yield more reliable results during production. Moreover, many vegans consider xanthan gum to be vegan because it is not made with eggs.

Is Xanthan Gum Healthy? 

There has been very little research into the health effects of xanthan gum. Xanthan gum converts fluids in your small intestine and stomach into a dense, gel-like material. This slows digestion and influences how soon sugar reaches the system, reducing blood sugar increases after eating. 

If you eat too much of it, it can act as a laxative and cause diarrhea, although you're unlikely to overeat. It's especially beneficial for those who are suffering from celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity.

Health Benefits Of Xanthan Gum

Let's explore some of the other health benefits it may offer:

a). Lowers cholesterol 

When xanthan gum is broken down, it appears to form a “gel” that may help stop cholesterol-containing bile salts from being reabsorbed.

Xanthan gum lowers cholesterol levels in food by replacing lipids with carbohydrates to thicken foods like sauces and mayonnaise.

You may know that high levels of bad cholesterol are harmful to our bodies. Thus, this would be helpful for the heart and overall well-being. 

Moreover, it lowers the amounts of lipids, or fat, in the plasma and liver of rats. Rats with and without diabetes were used in the study, and it was discovered that xanthan gum significantly enhanced the hypolipidemic impact.

This means it eliminates lipids from the blood, which is beneficial for health and lowers cholesterol. 

b). Stabilizes blood sugar levels –

Xanthan gum can slow down overall digestion, which helps regulate the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. If the absorption rate is slowed, there may be fewer blood sugar spikes following meals. This is especially helpful for people with diabetes

A 2018 study conducted in human clinical trials found that ingesting a meal containing xanthan gum serves as fiber in our diet, decreasing blood sugar spikes that occur naturally after a meal. This is important since it may lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

c). Improves symptoms of dysphagia –

Dysphagia is a medical term for difficulty swallowing. People with dysphagia often find it difficult to consume enough food or liquids, which can make health issues worse. Adding xanthan gum to food can help reduce choking by making food and beverages more viscous. 

With better texture and safety characteristics, Xanthan gum gives those who have trouble swallowing a wider variety of food and beverage choices. This could help guarantee that daily nutritional and hydration demands are satisfied comfortably.

d). Acts as a prebiotic to improve gut health – 

Prebiotics are compounds that are specifically used as food by helpful bacteria in, on, or around the body. The fact that xanthan gum may change gut flora may be advantageous because it can do the same for many other soluble fibers.

Prebiotics promote the formation of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. However, additional research is required to back up this.

e). Helps in weight management – 

Xanthan gum has been shown to increase the feeling of fullness, which may help reduce weight. As a result, xanthan gum is commonly used to replace and reduce dietary fat in a variety of food products.

However, there's some contradicting evidence regarding its role in weight management.

Also, it has been proven to reduce tumor growth in mice with skin cancer. Overall, Xanthan gum can be used as a food additive but not for medical purposes. Consult a healthcare provider before using it for any health purpose.

Negative Health Effects Of Xanthan Gum 

Here are some of the adverse effects of Xanthan gum that you might experience if consumed in large amounts: 

i) Gastrointestinal issues – For most people, this is the only negative effect of xanthan gum. Research has shown that large doses can increase the frequency of bowel movements and result in soft poops. In addition, it can also induce frequent gas and bloating.

ii) Inflammation – According to a study performed on rats, xanthan gum increased inflammatory responses. Hence, those who are at risk of developing inflammatory disorders, including asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), must avoid consuming xanthan gum. 

iii) Laxative effect – Xanthan gum may have some laxative effects when consumed in excess quantities (more than 15g per day). If you develop any serious effects after consuming xanthan gum-containing products, consult your doctor immediately. 

Is It Possible For Xanthan Gum To Be Non-Vegan? 

Although extremely rare, xanthan gum production might include non-vegan substances or procedures. One such worry has to be the growth media used for the fermentation process.

While the majority of manufacturers utilize plant-based mediums, some may use ingredients obtained from animals. That’s why you need to check the label before purchasing Xanthan gum. 

There are specialized organic and vegan shops with brands that reveal what kind of bacterial fermentation medium they’ve used. So you can easily check that, too. 

Other Vegan Substitutes For Xanthan Gum

If you're looking for a different thickening agent, you can try other vegan alternatives to Xanthan gum. Here's a list of common food additives on the market: 

  • Psyllium husk 
  • Cornstarch 
  • Agar-agar 
  • Guar gum
  • Chia seed
  • Ground flax seed
  • Arrowroot flour 
  • Unflavoured gelatin 
  • Konjac powder 


So, is Xanthan gum vegan? The short answer is yes. After analyzing its ingredients and the process of making it, we can confirm that Xanthan gum is a vegan-friendly food additive.

From our perspective, it's 100% vegan as it is purely made out of sugar, alcohol, and bacteria. No animal-based product or animal exploitation is involved! 

Xanthan gum is commonly used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier in food. It has some health benefits as well. However, be mindful not to consume much, as you may be at risk of experiencing severe stomach issues.

As always, check the label before buying the product. Meanwhile, you can eat items containing xanthan gum without concern. It appears to be harmless at worst.


1. Is Xanthan gum good or bad for you?

Ans: Xanthan gum is mostly safe to consume for many healthy people. However, many people may experience digestive issues like gas and upset stomach if consumed in excess amounts. 

2. What is Xanthan gum made from?

Ans: Xanthan gum is made from a bacteria strain known as Xanthomonas campestris through sugar fermentation. These bacteria are naturally present on the leaves of brassica vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.

3. Does xanthan gum contain gelatin?

Ans: No. Xanthan gum is similar to gelatin but doesn't contain any animal-derived collagen such as gelatin. 

4. Is xanthan gum natural and healthy?

Ans: Xanthan gum is not found in nature and has to be manufactured. It is entirely safe to consume, but excessive consumption can have health consequences in some.  

5. What is a healthy alternative to Xanthan gum?

Ans: Some of the healthy alternatives to Xanthan gum are Psyllium husk, corn starch, chia seeds, egg whites, guar gum, and many more. 

6. Is Xanthan gum gluten-free?

Ans: Yes. It's gluten-free. In fact, xanthan gum is used in many gluten-free foods to create the texture and suspension that gluten usually gives.

7. Can Xanthan gum cause inflammation?

Ans: Yes, Xanthan gum can exacerbate inflammatory responses in some cases. Those who have inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma should avoid foods containing Xanthan gum. 

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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