Is Maltodextrin Gluten Free?


Carolyn Woodie says:

I went to purchase Ortega taco mix based on your list and noticed in the ingredient list that it has maltodextrin in it. I’m new to this GF, but I thought that we could not have maltodextrin. Am I wrong?

Wow Carolyn, you opened up a can of worms. 

Although, when I wrote that post on ready to eat gluten free food I did do the research on maltodextrin, I couldn’t put my finger on my research.  (I’m in the process of moving my home office out of a corner of the family room to a room office space all my own.)  So I had to go back and find my results all over again.

First of all lets talk about what maltodextrin is.  Maltodextrin is a sweet polysaccharide.  While considered to be a carbohydrate, it is understood to be more easily digested than other forms of carbohydrates.  It is usually made from rice, corn, or potato starch, but can be made from wheat starch also, maltodextrin is produced by cooking down the starch. 

After the cooking process, the end result is a simple white powder that contains roughly four calories per gram, and has extremely small amounts of fiber, fat, and protein.

Now is maltodextrin Gluten Free?

I pulled this off of  Gluten Free Living Magazine’s website:  “Maltodextrin is gluten free. It can be made from a variety of starches, including corn, potato, rice or wheat. However the source does not matter because maltodextrin is such a highly processed ingredient that the protein is removed, rendering it gluten free. If wheat is used to make maltodextrin, “wheat” will be appear on the label. Even in this case, the maltodextrin would be gluten free.”

My next stop was to the website.  Wow!  What a bunch of gobbledie gook that is.  You need a degree in government to understand anything there.  I finally pulled out that if it is made in the U.S., maltodextrin is made from corn, rice, or potato starch and therefore gluten free.

According to FALCA (Food Labeling and Consumer Protection Act), FDA regulated food products that contains or is derived from wheat, (this includes Maltodextrin) must include the word wheat in the ingredients label.  That being said, if it is a USDA regulated food then only the common word or name is required by law to be listed. 

Which means, if it is a meat, poultry, or egg product, it falls under USDA regulations.  So even if it is maltodextrin made from wheat, all the label is required to list is maltodextrin.

If you come across a USDA regulated product with maltodextrin in it, you have one of two choices you can make, you can choose a different product that is not questionable, or you can always call the company of the product in question and ask what the maltodextrin in the product is derived from.

Here again, if you are in the United States, maltodextrin is still more than likely made from starches other than wheat.

But what if you live in another country?  Is maltodextrin still safe to eat?  If you live in Europe or Australia, your maltodextrin is more than likely made from wheat. 

European testing indicated that the amount of gluten is between 2 and 80 ppm.  Keep in mind that the current thought, by the FDA, in regards to acceptable levels of gluten in products labeled as gluten free is 20 ppm.

Add to that, you are not just eating straight maltodextrin.  A small portion of maltodextrin is being mixed up with a large portion of other ingredients.  So the amount of gluten in that otherwise gluten free food product is likely to be extremely low.

I hope this has helped clear up a murky subject.  It seems there still is no hard and fast rules when it comes to gluten free foods.


  1. Carolyn says:

    Whew! I certainly had not intended to open such a can of worms (GF ones at that!) Thank you for your more than detailed reply. I had read someplace (I’m new to this and am reading a lot) that we could not have anything with maltodextrin. So, I am glad to understand that we may and I’m off to buy that Ortega taco mix! I enjoy tacos and that is one lunch that I can eat!

    Thanks again!!

    sincerely, Carolyn (finding that GF is helping my fibromyalgia and possibly my myasthenia gravis)

  2. Mary Blackburn says:

    You are very welcome. I’m glad that the GF diet is helping your other health issues also.

    Even after 24 years, I am totally surprised by the symptoms that are alleviated by staying on a GF diet.

    Gluten intolerance mimicks so many other diseases, that’s what makes it so hard to diagnose.

  3. peggy clark says:

    This is all so confusing. I also had read that GF people could not have maltodextrin (that anything with the word malt is from barley). After having cramps and nausea several times and then realizing maltodextrin was in the particular food, I figured it must have been that that was bothering me. Is there something else about maltodextrin that could be bothersome? Or, perhaps it was something else bothering me all along. Two things I have thought were giving me trouble are maltodextrin and modified food starch. It seems every time I’ve eaten something with either of those two things, I felt sick. So what could it be? I thought I had this thing figured out. I wish they’d just stop using so many additives in the food!

    • Mary Blackburn says:


      Maybe there were other ingredients (that look benign, but are really glutenous), in the food that were bothering you. Some things that sound like they should be safe but really aren’t. Like Brown Rice syrup. You would think from it’s name that it would be gluten free, but some brown rice syrups are made with barley or barley malt in them.

      If the brown rice syrup is an ingredient in a gluten free product like Enjoy Life Foods’ Coco Loco snack bars, then you can feel pretty confident that the syrup is gluten free. But if it is in a main stream product not especially made for the gluten free community, then it is questionable as to whether it is gluten free. The only way to tell is to contact the company and ask.
      I know it can all be sooo confusing. It can still throw me a curve ball every now and then and I’ve been eating this way for almost 24 years. 😉

  4. sheila says:

    Just came upon your website by accident and think its very good.
    I have been diagnosed 28 yrs and could really have used it then??
    I am from Ireland and I understood that malt vinegar was glutenfree than is something i must check out
    Thank you for the very helpfull reading

    • Mary Blackburn says:


      Everything that I have come across says malt vinegar, because of the barley malt, is not gluten-free.

      Is it as easy in Ireland to find gluten-free foods as it was in Scotland when I visited there 8 years ago? I went to visit my daughter and son-in-law who were living at the time, in the little town of Airdrie, which is nestled in between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I was totally amazed at the selection of gluten-free foods that were readily available. So many more than here in the U.S. at the time.

  5. caroline says:

    Maltodextrin can be a wicked thing to digest. I had a reaction 10 times worse than any wheat reaction eating diet jello. Actually had a burning sensation running through my colon during it’s exit phase and for 12 to 15 hours after that with each sip of water I took. Diarrhea was explosive and stool boardering on tarry for several days. I now avoid it like the plague.

  6. Kathy says:

    Modified food starch is often not gluten free. The “food” part is frequently made from wheat and is not modifed with a process that removes enough of the gluten. And this may not have been the case in 2011 but in 2013/14 I believe that the US has begun using more wheat in the maltodextrin and/or getting more from overseas because lately I will eat something and that seems to be the only questionalbe ingredient and I get sick. You just never know. Thinking about buying only organic fruits and veges and living on that! Whats a person to do??!

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