There seems to be a commonly held misconception about the ingredient maltodextrin and how it will be listed on the food label. Hopefully the following information will clear up any confusion you may have. If not, feel free to email me.
Based on the Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), maltodextrin is made from corn starch, rice starch, or potato starch. Because of this, it has been widely believed that if maltodextrin is made from wheat starch the maltodextrin must be labeled as “wheat maltodextrin.” Unfortunately, based on conversations and email exchanges I had recently with a consumer safety officer at FDA and a labeling and consumer staff member at USDA this is not the case.
Maltodextrin is listed in the CFR as a GRAS additive, meaning it is generally recognized as safe. GRAS additives can be affirmed GRAS by the FDA or they can be self-determined GRAS which is done by the manufacturer. Starches other than corn, rice, or potato can be used to make maltodextrin as long as the company self-determines GRAS and the resulting maltodextrin has the same chemical structure as the maltodextrins made from corn, rice, or potato as described in Food Chemicals Codex. Using wheat starch to make maltodextrin does not change the common or usual name of maltodextrin to “wheat maltodextrin.” It is still just “maltodextrin” regardless of what it is made from.
Fortunately, under the Food Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), if an FDA-regulated food product contains maltodextrin and the maltodextrin contains protein derived from wheat, the word wheat must be included on the food label (e.g., maltodextrin (wheat). If you don’t see the word wheat on an FDA-regulated product containing maltodextrin, the food product does not contain wheat protein.
So, what should you do if you come across a meat, poultry, or egg product containing maltodextrin? That depends on you. You could find another product that does not contain maltodextrin. You could call the company and ask what the maltodextrin in the product is derived from. Or you could decide not to worry about it. Keep in mind, in the
On November 28, 2007 The European Food Safety Authority permanently exempted from allergen labeling wheat-based maltodextrin, wheat-based glucose syrup, and wheat-based dextrose. In part this is based on industry agreeing to the following: “Code of Good Practice on purification of wheat starch hydrolysates in which the industry commits to respect a maximum 20 ppm gluten/dry substance in the above-mentioned ingredients as a quality parameter.”