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Xanthan Gum

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris is used as a food additive and rheology modifier commonly used as a food thickening agent (in salad dressings, for example) and a stabilizer (in cosmetic products, for example, to prevent ingredients from separating). Many canned or prepared products contain Xanthan gum: salad dressings, sauces, soups, and baked goodsparticularly those that are gluten-free because Xanthan gum can perform some of the same functions as gluten.

Xanthan gum is one of the most useful food additives around; it is effective in a wide range of viscosities, temperatures, and pH levels. It is easy to use, has no taste, and generally works quite well. And it can thicken liquids at extremely low concentrations.


The bacterium Xanthomonas campestris produces the polysaccharide at the cell wall surface during its normal life cycle by a complex enzymatic process. In nature the bacteria are found on the leaves of the Brassica vegetables such as cabbage.

Commercially, Xanthan gum is produced from a pure culture of the bacterium by an aerobic, submerged fermentation process. The bacteria are cultured in a well-aerated medium containing glucose, a nitrogen source and various trace elements. To provide seed for the final fermentation stage, the process of inoculum build-up is carried out in several stages. When the final fermentation has finished the broth is pasteurised to kill the bacteria and the Xanthan gum is recovered by precipitation with isopropyl alcohol. Finally, the product is dried, milled and packaged.

Uses and Applications

Food Sectors/Feed Products

Xanthan gum is most often found in salad dressings and sauces. It helps to prevent oil separation by stabilizing the emulsion. Xanthan gum also helps suspend solid particles, such as spices. In frozen foods and beverages, Xanthan gum helps create the pleasant texture in many ice creams, along with guar gum and locust bean gum. Toothpaste often contains Xanthan gum, where it serves as a binder to keep the product uniform. Xanthan gum helps thicken commercial egg substitutes made from egg whites. Xanthan gum is also used in gluten-free baking.

Industrial Sector and Oil Drilling

Xanthan gum is used in large quantities, usually to thicken drilling mud. Xanthan gum provides great low end rheology. When the circulation stops, the solids still remain suspended in the drilling fluid. The widespread use of horizontal drilling and the demand for good control of drilled solids has led to its expanded use. It has also been added to concrete poured underwater, to increase its viscosity and prevent washout.

Personal Care Sector (Cosmetics)

Xanthan gum is used to prepare water gels in conjunction with bentonite clays. It is also used in oil-in-water emulsions to help stabilize the oil droplets against coalescence. It has some skin hydrating properties. Xanthan gum is a common ingredient in fake blood recipes, and in gunge/slime.

Dairy Products

Blends of xanthan gum, carrageenan and galactomannans are excellent stabilisers frozen and chilled dairy products such as ice cream, sherbet, sour cream, sterile whipping cream and recombined milk. These economical blends are available pre prepared and provide optimal viscosity, long-term stability, and improved heat transfer during processing, heat shock protection and ice crystal control.

Compatibility of Xanthan Gum


Xanthan gum does not dissolve directly into alcohol but solutions of xanthan gum are compatible with alcohol. Products containing alcohol can be formulated, to contain up to 60% water-miscible solvents such as ethanol. This enables its use as a thickener in alcohol-based products such as cocktails and chocolate liqueurs.


Most hydrocolloids are degraded to some extent by enzymes present in some foodstuffs. Enzymes encountered in food systems such as proteases, cellulases, pectinases and amylases, do not degrade the Xanthan gum molecule. It is thought that this enzyme resistance is due to the arrangement of the side chains attached to the backbone. This arrangement prevents the enzymes from attacking the-(14) linkages in the backbone, thereby preventing depolymerisation by enzymes, acid and alkali. In practice the enzyme resistance of Xanthan gum is exploited in food systems such as pineapple products, starch-based systems, spice mixes and many other products containing active enzymes.

Xanthan Gum in Indian Markets

Xanthan Gum is currently not produced in India. The  present  Indian  demand  for  Xanthan  gum  is  largely  confined  to  oil exploration sector . Xanthan  gum  is  currently  imported  by  the  major  consuming  industries  like ONGC and OIL India Ltd.

Global producers

Xanthan gum is manufactured in United States, Austria, China and France,

Some important producers are-

·         CP Kelco, San Diego, CA,USA

·         CP Kelco, Okmulgee, OK,USA

·         Archer Daniel Midland Co, (ADM), Decatur, IL,USA

·         Jungbunzlauer Austria AG (―JBL‖), the sole Austrian producer of Xanthan gum

·         Two factories operated by Cargill and Danisco (now DuPont) are in France.

Source: NPCS Team

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