Boulder Canyon Chips & FDA Webinar Statement on Use of Malt Extract in Gluten-Free Foods

Boulder Canyon Chips & FDA Webinar Statement on Use of Malt Extract in Gluten-Free Foods

Boulder Canyon Chips–Again!!

It is hard to believe I’m writing about Boulder Canyon chips—Again! BUT Boulder Canyon chips labeled gluten-free yet containing both malt vinegar powder and malt extract continue to be widely available on store shelves.

Based on the emails I continue to receive, there seems to be confusion on the part of many regarding the ingredients contained in this product as well as the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) position on malt extract in labeled gluten-free foods.

To help clarify, here are the ingredients for Boulder Canyon Malt Vinegar and Sea Salt Kettle Chips listed on the product packaging: Potatoes, Sunflower and/or safflower oil, Malt vinegar powder (maltodextrin, food starch modified, malt vinegar), Fructose, White vinegar powder (maltodextrin, distilled white vinegar), Sea salt, Citric acid, Malt extract.  (emphasis added)

As mentioned in the, “Gluten Free Watchdog Product Alert: Boulder Canyon Malt Vinegar Chips,” the FDA has stated to me twice in email correspondence that they consider malt extract to be an “ingredient not processed to remove gluten.” In addition, on March 12, 2014 an FDA staff member participated in an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Medical Nutrition Practice Group Webinar entitled, “New Rules for Gluten Free Labeling: Get the Facts from the Experts.” The webinar included information both in written and verbal format on the ingredient malt extract.

Information on FDA slide entitled, “Malt Extract/Syrup”

0 Malt—Product of barley germination

0 Malt Extract/Malt Syrup—Viscous concentrate of water extract of germinated barley

0 “Ingredients not processed to remove gluten”

Transcription of audio from FDA presentation

(Note: the portion below bracketed by “?” is difficult to decipher)

“… We have had several questions regarding malt extract and malt syrup so I thought I would just touch upon this a little bit.

Malt is a product of barley germinated under controlled conditions.

Malt syrup and malt extract are interchangeable terms for a viscous concentrate of water extract of germinated barley with or without the preservative.

Malt syrup is usually a brown and viscous liquid containing varying amounts of amylolytic enzymes with plant constituents.

So if malt syrup or malt extract are further processed in some way to remove proteins we believe that would change its nature to such an extent and alter the characteristics of the ingredient so that they would no longer bear the same common or ?usual name?.

Malt extract and malt syrup are ingredients derived from gluten containing grains and containing gluten therefore we would consider them as  ingredients not processed to remove gluten and they would not be permitted in foods bearing the claim gluten-free.” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

The information provided by the FDA in the webinar is in keeping with what an FDA dietitian colleague has been telling many dietitians for years—malt extract under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains barley protein; if barley protein is somehow removed from malt extract the resulting ingredient no longer conforms to the CFR for malt extract.

Boulder Canyon chips contain the ingredient “malt extract.” Consequently, this product should not be labeled gluten-free. It doesn’t matter how much gluten the final food contains—even if it is less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Certain ingredients simply are not allowed in food labeled gluten-free. Manufacturers can not add a little bit of wheat flour and they can not add a little bit of malt extract. This is not my opinion. It is what we are being told by the FDA. The ingredient “malt extract” is not permitted in foods labeled gluten-free. Period.

©Copyright April 2014 by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD for Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC. All rights reserved. 

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Comments (5)

  • Lisa hetrick Reply

    Have you heard of any complaints of gluten contamination of Celiacs who have eaten a Birthday Cake flavored Fit Crunch whey protein baked bar from Robert Irvine, made by Bakery Barn, Inc for Pervine Foods, LLC? The bars are marked gluten free on the front, but malt is listed in the ingredients. I contacted the manufacturer by email after being sickened by one, and asked for the source of the malt. I was answered by email, given an apology for my gi discomfort, offered a box of protein bars as compensation (which included 2 more of the birthday cake flavor), but was not given the source of the malt.

    October 13, 2016 at 11:50 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Lisa, I have not received any complaints BUT “malt” in the ingredients list means “barley malt” and malt is not allowed in foods labeled gluten-free per the FDA. Do you still have the bars? If so, please take photos showing the the gluten-free claim and the malt ingredient and email them to me. Thank you. Tricia

      October 14, 2016 at 1:08 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Lisa, Is the ingredient you are seeing in the ingredients list malt or maltitol? Maltitol is a sugar alcohol and it is allowed in foods labeled gluten-free.

      October 14, 2016 at 1:12 pm
      • Lisa hetrick Reply

        Tricia, sorry if the photo wasn’t legible. The ingredients list “malt”.
        Lisa H.

        October 16, 2016 at 3:37 am
        • Tricia Thompson Reply

          Thank you, Lisa. Did you send a photo? If so, I did not receive it. Can you please resend along with a photo of the lot number. The ingredients list online states maltitol so this is why the information is so important.

          October 20, 2016 at 12:59 pm

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