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 fda.gov 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.