Product Development Considerations and Regulations
Maltodextrins are a food ingredient derived from corn, potato, or rice starch. Due to their wide variety of applications, they’re ubiquitous in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.
They are exalted for their texturizing, gelling, emulsifying, and non-crystallizing properties.1 They’re less expensive than other hydrocolloids and are used on an industrial scale in the food and beverage industry.
Owing to the binding properties, maltodextrin also has pharmaceutical applications for the production of tablets and capsules.
Production of maltodextrin
Maltodextrins are partially hydrolyzed by enzymatic (α-amylase from Bacillus sp.), or acidic means (hydrochloric acid) or a combination of the two, followed by refinement and spray drying to a moisture level of three to five percent.
Maltodextrin produced by acid from dent corn contains a high percentage of linear fragments which may reassociate, causing haze in certain applications. This can be avoided by using α-amylases which decrease the ability of the fragments to reassociate.
They are a white powder with a neutral to mild sweet flavor depending on the degree of hydrolysis.
The degree of hydrolysis is measured as a dextrose equivalent (DE), a measure of total reducing power of all sugars, expressed as a percentage on a dry basis relative to dextrose as 100. (Equation 1) The higher the DE value, the greater degree of hydrolysis and the shorter the glucose chains.
Equation 1: Calculation of the DE of a carbohydrate.
DE = 100 x (Reducing sugar, pressed as dextrose) / (Total carbohydrate)
These values are related to the chemical structure and manufactures will procure compounds with low or high DE based on the application for which maltodextrin is used. Maltodextrins have a DE between three and 20.2 Starch has a DE of 0; dextrose has a DE of 100. (Table 1)
|Carbohydrate||Dextrose Equivalent (DE)|
Table 1. The degree of hydrolysis of carbohydrates
For example, maltodextrins with a high DE value are more soluble and freeze better making them common in frozen prepared foods. Those with a low DE value are stickier and are better suited for making gelatinous products like table spreads.
The characteristics of maltodextrins are also affected by the source from which its extracted from. Therefore, it’s important that formulators communicate specifics to their ingredient supplier such as other ingredients in the formula, targeted product attributes, and shelf-life requirements. (Figure 1)
Maltodextrin functions as a flavor carrier, bulking agent, and as a spray-drying agent. Supplying 4 kcal/g, it is also a valuable source of carbohydrates and osmolality control for sports drinks, infant formulas, and weight management products.
Maltodextrins are a viable replacement for lactose to provide energy when a lactase deficiency is present in infants.3 Instead of glucose, they may also be more favorable for reducing osmotic load and related gastrointestinal stress.4 Additionally, the solubility of maltodextrins allows for a lump-free formula.
Maltodextrin is easily digested and converted to energy making it an ideal ingredient for sports drinks. Similar to other carbohydrates, maltodextrin decreases glycogen breakdown during long-duration exercise.5 When combined with protein, maltodextrins can enhance glycogen recovery and stimulate muscle protein synthesis after exercise.6
Along with the obesity rates, the demand for low-calorie alternative foods are growing. Maltodextrins behave as a pseudo fat and may be used to reduce the fat content of high-calorie foods – such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, and dairy products – without altering important characteristics like firmness.7
This is important because fat contains more than double the energy per gram as carbohydrates (9 kcal vs. 4 kcal). Maltodextrins may also be used in no-sugar-added formulations to replace solids since they are not sugars.
In the United States, maltodextrin is made from corn, potato or rice. It is regulated under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 184.1444 as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) substance.2 Other starches, such as tapioca, can be used to make maltodextrin if the manufacturer determines GRAS and it has the same chemical structure as maltodextrins made from corn, potato, or rice.
According to the Food Labelling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), if maltodextrins are produced from wheat, the word ‘wheat’ must be included on the food label. For meat, poultry, and egg products, however, which are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the source does not need to be listed even if it is derived from wheat. Though, allergen statements are still encouraged.
In Europe, wheat is more common to make maltodextrins. The ‘wheat’ origin, however, does not need to be labeled and these wheat-based maltodextrins are seen as gluten-free carbohydrate sources and are used in gluten-free products.8 Maltodextrins are generally referred to as starch hydrolysates in ingredient labeling, as only the U.S has an official definition of maltodextrins.
- BeMiller JN, Whistler RL., Starch: Chemistry and Technology. London: Academic Press; 2009.
- “CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.”
- Maldonado J, Gil A, Narbona E, Molina JA. Special formulas in infant nutrition: a review. Early Hum Dev. 1998; 53 Suppl:S23-32.
- Gregorio GV, Gonzales MLM, Dans LF, Martinez EG. Cochrane review: Polymer-based rehydration solution for treating acute watery diarrhea. Evid. Based Child Health: A Cochrane Rev. J. 2010:1612-1675.
- Wagenmakers AJ, Brouns F, Saris WH, Halliday D. Oxidation rates of orally ingested carbohydrates during prolonged exercise in men. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1993; 75(6):2774-80.
- Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J et al. International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008; 5:17.
- Sajilata M, Singhal RS. Specialty starches for snack foods. Carbohydr. Polym. 2005; 131-151.
- EUR-Lex – 32011R1169 – EN – EUR-Lex.
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