Originally published 8/14/15--Updated 8/12/19

Product developers are not only tasked with finding functional ingredient solutions for their formulations, but also ones that meet the label requirements of consumers. For developers looking to clean up their label, it is often contingent on organic or GMO status.

"Which gums should I use in my organic product?"

Customers often call our technical support hotline to ask one of our Gum Gurus® to recommend the best gum or stabilizer for their organic food product.

This question sounds straight forward but details like the regulatory environment, the desire to follow less formal guidelines or even the process used to manufacture an ingredient, combine to create a tangle of possibilities. The stakes are high because choosing the wrong stabilizer for your formulation could lead to headaches and delays downstream.

People who don't necessarily need to formulate with organics will sometimes lean on organic ingredients because they prefer the detailed documentation while others choose organic ingredients because of the consumer's perception of quality.

Your answers to a few questions early in the conversation will help narrow down the choices and reduce the amount of time you'll spend tweaking stabilizers.

Things to Consider When Selecting Gums for Your Organic Foods

Desired Level of Organic Compliance

  • What level of organic are you targeting? There are different levels of organic labeling according to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards. Once you decide which organic claims you'd like to make, our Gum Gurus can help you sift through our food stabilizers to determine which ones will meet your desired claim.
    • Categories of Organic Labeling
      • 100% Organic–must contain 100% organic ingredients that are produced in accordance with all applicable requirements of 7 CFR part 205 of the National Organic Program.  
      • Organic–must contain not less than 95% organically produced ingredients
      • Made with Organic–must contain at least 70% organically produced ingredients.
  • Are there international organic standards you need to meet? Many of our USDA organic certified products are also approved to be sold as organic in the EU and Canada, under the organic equivalency agreements that exists between the US and these countries.

Organic Timeline

  • Are you planning to launch an organic version of your product at some point? Even if you aren't formulating the food or beverage to meet organic requirements now, if there is any possibility that you might want to offer an organic version of the product in the future, you'll want to let us know about that up front so we can recommend gums that have both organic and non-organic options. Narrowing the list of ingredients that you can choose today is easier than reformulating the product later.

Some ingredients simply are not available in a certified organic version

Another frequent question we receive is related to the availability of organic versions of xanthan gum, pectin, or carrageenan. Due to the way these gums are produced or handled; it does not currently allow them to meet the requirements of the NOP. For example, the citrus peels that are used to manufacture pectin are actually by-products of juice production, making compliance difficult. In fact, according to the International Pectin Producers Association (IPPA), organically produced pectin raw materials are not available in a quality or quantity for the commercial production of organic pectin.

While there are no certified organic grades of xanthan, pectin, or carrageenan, there are grades that can be classified as "organic compliant." Read our Organic and Organic Compliant Ingredients List.

What is the difference between organic and Non-GMO?

According to the Non-GMO Project website, a GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. In order for an ingredient to be deemed organic, it cannot be genetically modified. That is to say, all ingredients that fall under the organic category, are automatically considered Non-GMO as well.

GMO status is just one of the requirements that qualifies a product as organic. In additional to being Non-GMO, products making an organic claim must be produced and handled without the use of prohibited substances, methods and ingredients as outlined in 7 CFR Part 205 of the National Organic Program.

We offer a full line of Non-GMO Project Verified gums, stabilizers and ingredients.

Organic & Organic Compliant Ingredients

Because many of our products come from agricultural sources, they often align with consumer-friendly label claims, such as organic or non-GMO. We are committed to producing ingredients that allow manufacturers to communicate clearly and honestly with their customers.

Available as Certified Organic Ingredients

  • Organic Agar
  • Organic Acacia
  • Organic Guar
  • Organic Locust Bean Gum
  • Organic Inulin
  • Organic Tara

Available as Organic Compliant Ingredients*

  • Carrageenan
  • Pectin (non-amidated)
  • Sodium alginate
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Gellan Gum (high-acyl)

*If you plan to use one of these organic compliant ingredients in your organic products, please check first with our Gum Gurus as we may have versions of these ingredients as all grades may not be organic compliant. Be sure to request an organic compliant statement.

To help manufacturers navigate the world of hydrocolloids and how they align with these various label claim goals, we have developed a Common Gums chart to explain the source and status of our ingredients.


download the gum chart reference