Do you need to avoid modified food starch and maltodextrin to be gluten-free? The books and cookbooks I have read seem to say yes, unless it specifies it was made from corn. However, I am seeing more and more products with those ingredients labeling themselves gluten-free. Case in point, Quaker Cheese Rice Cakes contain both ingredients but advertise boldly they are gluten-free. Help?
Thanks so much for your question. I can certainly understand your confusion! The quick question to your answer is that if an FDA-regulated food product containing modified food starch or maltodextrin is derived from wheat, it must be declared on the label per FALCPA (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) regulations.
So, yes, the Quaker Cheese Rice Cakes you describe may contain both modified food starch and maltodextrin, and still be labeled gluten-free. Indeed, most modified food starches and maltodextrin in North American are derived from corn, waxy maize, or potatoes, and thus are gluten-free.
One caveat is that allergen labeling of USDA-regulated foods (i.e. processed meat, poultry, and egg products) is voluntary, so these products may not indicate whether or not an additive such as modified food starch or maltodextrin has been derived from wheat.
For more reading on FALPCA and allergen labeling requirements for FDA vs. USDA-regulated foods, please refer to this earlier Answers from a Dietitian Q and A: Maltodextrin and Allergen Labeling Requirements by Melinda Dennis.
In good health,
EA Stewart, MBA, RD