Allergy to corn is a common food allergy. A
corn-free diet removes not only products made primarily from corn, but also avoids foods
containing ingredients derived from corn. People allergic to corn also should avoid non-food
items containing corn derivatives, such as some medicines and adhesives.
Why do people follow this diet?
Doctors sometimes recommend a corn-free diet to help determine if someone is allergic to
corn. People who have been diagnosed as corn-allergic follow a corn-free diet to avoid the
symptoms triggered when they eat corn––reactions that can vary considerably from
person to person.
What are the symptoms?
Corn allergy symptoms may include any of the common symptoms of food allergies, including skin rashes or hives, gastrointestinal distress, breathing problems,
or many other possible symptoms. Although in severe cases, a life-threatening reaction called
anaphylaxis may occur, anaphylaxis to corn is a rare event.
What do I need to avoid?
Most people who are allergic to corn are allergic to the protein in corn. Corn oil poses
little risk of causing an allergic reaction because processing removes almost all the protein;
however, people who are highly sensitive to corn should avoid corn oil, too.
To avoid corn and corn products ask about ingredients at restaurants and others’
homes, read food labels, and become familiar with the technical or scientific terms for corn.
The following list is not complete. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any
significant changes to your diet.
- Coffee Rich
- Evaporated milk
- Frozen orange juice (except Minute
- Gin, whiskey, and any alcoholic beverage or soft drink containing malt, malt syrup, or
- Hawaiian Punch
- Infant formulas, some (Enfamil, Modilac, and Similac)
- Instant coffee
- Mott’s Apple Juice
Fruits to avoid:
- Candied fruits, canned fruits, and dried fruits that contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Frozen and sweetened fruits that contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Fruit desserts that contain corn syrup or HFCS
Dairy to avoid:
- Ice cream and sherbets that contain corn
syrup of HFCS
- Flavored yogurts that contain corn syrup
- Ketchup that contains corn syrup or HFCS
Baking ingredients to avoid:
- Baking powders, most (corn-free baking powders are available that use arrowroot powder or
potato starch instead of cornstarch)
- Carmel coloring (may contain corn syrup)
- Vanilla extract (many brands contain corn syrup; some brands do not)
- Yeast (except Red Star dry yeast)
Baked goods to avoid:
- Commercial backed goods that contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Biscuits, Bisquick, and pancake mixes that
contain corn syrup
- Granola bars and cookies that contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Modified cornstarch
- Pie crusts and cake mixes that contain corn syrup or HFCS
Cereals to avoid:
- Cereals listing corn, corn syrup, or HFCS on labels
- Corn flakes
- Pre-sweetened cereals (most)
- Confectioners sugar (many brands contain cornstarch; some do not)
- “Corn sugar”
- Corn syrup
- Dextrose (iodized table salt contains dextrose)
- “Fruit sugar”
- Golden syrup
- High fructose corn syrup
- “Invert sugar,” “invert syrup”
- Malt, malt syrup, and malt extract
- Sucrose labeled “from corn”
Desserts and snacks to avoid:
- Candy, frostings, and carob desserts that
contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Graham crackers
- Jellies, jams, and peanut butter that
contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Products containing xanthan gum
- Puddings that contain corn syrup or HFCS
Meats to avoid:
- Bacon and cooked meats in gravies that contain corn syrup or HFCS
- Cured ham, sausages, and wieners that
contain corn syrup, HFCS, or glucono-delta lactone (GDL)
- Luncheon meats and sandwich spreads that contain corn syrup or HFCS
Medicines to avoid:
- Dextrose is common in IV solutions.
- Most solid or liquid medicines and dietary supplements contain cornstarch. Inquire to the
manufacturer, because excipients (additional ingredients) may not necessarily appear on the
Miscellaneous products to avoid:
- Bath or body powder (may contain corn starch)
- Corn oil is used in emollient creams and toothpastes.
- Corn syrup is often used as a texturizer and carrying agent in cosmetics.
- Envelopes, labels, stickers, stamps, and tape may contain corn.
- Plastic wrap, paper cups and plates can be coated with corn oil.
- Some plastic food wrappers contain corn.
- Sorbitol in oral hygiene products (mouthwash and toothpaste) is commercially produced from
- Zest soap
The following foods are good replacements for corn in the diet:
Replacing medicines and other products that contain corn-derived ingredients may require
advice from a pharmacist or other knowledgeable professionals
Are there any groups or books?
The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook: Over 350 Natural Food Recipes,
Free of All Common Food Allergens by Marjorie Hurt-Jones, Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press,
The Food Allergy Network (information on food allergies, label
reading, food preparation, and management and education programs)
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
International Food Information Council Foundation
Crippa M and Pasolini G. Allergic reactions due to
glove-lubricant-powder in health-care workers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health.
Park H and Nahm DH. Identification of IgE-binding components in
occupational asthma caused by corn dust. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.