The silk of corn contains a wide variety of compounds, many present in very small amounts; included are sugars, tannins, saponins, flavones, glucosides, fats, alkaloids, and various aromatic components of the essential oil fraction. The composition of the commercial product (corn silk) that is added to foods will obviously depend on the procedures used for extraction of the silk of corn and the subsequent concentration and fractionation of the extract. The Select Committee has not been able to obtain any information concerning the method of preparation of the commercial product or its composition, or to find any reports of biological studies on the commercial product. In the absence of such information, it is not possible to relate the few reported biological studies on corn silk extracts and components to the possible consequences of using corn silk as a food ingredient.
There are no known specifications for food-grade corn silk. Considering the origin of the product, specifications are needed to establish limits for possible variations in its composition and for the presence of incidental contaminants such as pesticidal chemicals.
In light of the foregoing, and in spite of the fact that the amount of corn silk consumed as a result of its addition to foods is extremely small, the Select Committee concludes that: In view of the lack of information on the identity of the product used in foods and of relevant biological studies concerning it, the Select Committee has insufficient data upon which to base an evaluation of corn silk when it is used as a food ingredient.