Is maltodextrin gluten free?

Is maltodextrin gluten free?

Maltodextrin is an ingredient found in processed foods, energy supplements for athletes, beers, and other drinks. Maltodextrin can be obtained from almost any starch, including wheat. In this article, we’ll investigate whether or not wheat-based maltodextrin is safe for Celiacs.

Maltodextrin is a type of dextrin that’s been further processed, and therefore has different properties and uses than dextrin. This powdery substance is a mixture of oligosaccharides obtained from hydrolyzed starch. It’s usually made from corn in the US and from wheat in Europe. If wheat starch is used, the gluten is first separated from the starch. The food-grade starch is then heated and gelatinized with the help of enzymes.


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Maltodextrin is more processed the dextrin, so it’s always considered gluten free, regardless of starting material. In the US, foods that contain wheat-based maltodextrin must be identified with a wheat allergen label, with the exception of meat, dairy, and egg products. In the European Union, wheat-derived maltodextrin is exempt from wheat allergen labeling.

Why is maltodextrin used in food?


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Maltodextrin is used as a food thickener and volume increaser in foods and drinks, like low fat peanut butter and beer. It’s often added to foods to improve mouthfeel while reducing the fat content of the end product.

Because it’s an easy-to-digest carbohydrate with a higher glycemic index than table sugar, it can be used to rapidly increase blood glucose levels. This can help with muscle recovery and energy levels so it’s often added to sports drinks and gels.


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Molecular gastronomy and modern food manufacturing companies use maltodextrin to create powders from fatty products. This is possible due to maltodextrin’s unique chemical structure that allows separation of the components of the fat. Mixing maltodextrin with a fatty substance will create a shelf-stable powder. This allows for interesting applications in molecular gastronomy and it also provides a way for baking mixes and creamers to include fat in their powdered products so that only water needs to be added to make the recipe.

Gluten Free Foods That Contain Maltodextrin


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* Title image courtesy of Greatist.

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