Starch is the primary source of stored energy in cereal grains, including corn. When starch is separated from the rest of the kernel through the wet mill refining process, it becomes a versatile ingredient with a wide variety of applications and uses  – not only in food production, but throughout our economy. Some examples of the wide variety of household, personal, and healthcare items starch can be found in:

In foods and beverages, corn starch can thicken ingredients, retain moisture, offer freeze-thaw stability, stabilize ingredients, prevent separation, and replace fats. Literally thousands of supermarket staples are produced using both regular and specially modified corn starches.

Corn starch also plays a key role in everything from basic consumer necessities to highly specialized industries. Starches are found in paper products, crayons, and printer ink. Dextrins, formed by heating starch, are utilized as adhesives. Other types of starches are even used in the search for oil as part of the “drilling mud,” which cools down superheated oil drilling bits. Specialized starches are also used to remove water from fuels and to clean up pesticide spills.

Cyclodextrins, a family of specially modified starches, encapsulate other ingredients to protect sensitive or delicate ones and allow them to be released over time. As a result, they are commonly used in vitamins, flavorings, and medicines. Cyclodextrins are even found in laundry sheets, helping fragrances last longer.

One of the most promising new markets for corn starch is as a renewable replacement for petroleum feedstocks in the production of industrial chemicals and plastics. This process for converting corn starch into advanced, value-added products is often called bioprocessing.

 


Examples of Starches

Printing Ink

Different inks require different “body.” Some are soft and fluid, like newsprint, while others are thick and stiff. Cornstarch is added to control consistency.

Cardboard Box Manufacture

Starch-based glues bond corrugated boxboard and other paper layers together for strength and durability.

Styrofoam Replacement

Polystyrene cups, long considered a threat to the environment, are being supplanted by biodegradable products made from bioprocessing cornstarch.


Examples of Food Starches

High-Fiber Pasta

Resistant starch can be used to increase the fiber in pasta and may even help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Frozen Pizza

Modified cornstarch prevents soggy pizza crust by keeping the moisture in the sauce, where it belongs.

Better Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is crunchier and healthier when the batter includes resistant dextrin, a cornstarch that cuts oil uptake, while keeping the meat moist.