GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
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E 415 | Thickening agent
Possible application of gene technology Declaration
Producible with the help of GM microorganisms no
Growth medium: primary products GM maize, GM soya no



The human body cannot digest xanthan, which is a starch (polysaccharide, fibre) that is produced naturally by various microorganisms.

Combined with water, xanthan forms a stable, gel-like mass and is therefore used in foodstuff production as a thickening and gelling agent.


Xanthan is added to various products to fulfill different technical functions, e.g.:

Gene technology

The microbial polysaccharide xanthan has been produced on a large scale for more than 30 years. The bacteria for this production are grown on sugar- or starch-containing solutions.

  • The xanthan-producing bacteria (Xanthomonas campestris) can be genetically modified. At present there is no precise information on the extent to which this method is applied commercially.
  • The xanthan-producing bacteria usually utilise glucose or glucose syrup, which can be derived from GM maize. GM soya can also be used in the culture medium.

Labelling: additives that are produced in a closed system with the help of genetically modifiend microorganisms do not have to be declared, providing that the specific additive has been purified and contains no microorganisms.

Even if the microorganisms used contain substrates derived from genetically modified plants (e.g. maize, soya), it is not necessary for this to be declared.


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GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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