Did you know that in the U.S. “malt” means “barley malt” in an ingredients list?

Did you know that in the U.S. “malt” means “barley malt” in an ingredients list?

In honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month 2018,

A series of bites, barks, tail wags, face licks, and pant tugs from Gluten Free Watchdog

May 9, 2018

Gluten Free Watchdog Pant Tug (consumers) and Bite (manufacturers), Post # 9

In the U.S., barley is not considered one of the top 8 allergens. Unlike wheat, if an ingredient is or contains barley protein the word barley does not need to be declared in the ingredients list or Contains statement. All that is required is the common or usual name of the ingredient.

Malt, malt extract, and malt syrup are all considered common or usual names. If you have celiac disease, it is important to know that under the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations these common or usual ingredient names mean barley unless another source is explicitly named (e.g., corn malt):

  • “Malt” means “Barley Malt”
  • “Malt Extract” means “Barley Malt Extract”
  • “Malt Syrup” means “Barley Malt Syrup”

It also is important that manufacturers of gluten-free food understand that the barley ingredients malt, malt extract, and malt syrup are not allowed in foods labeled gluten-free in the U.S. The FDA has repeatedly confirmed this but regardless, manufacturers continue to use these barley-based ingredients in foods labeled gluten-free.

Manufacturers, it doesn’t matter if these ingredients are sometimes allowed in gluten-free foods in the UK and EU. They are not allowed in the U.S. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve tested your product for gluten and it tests below 20 ppm based on whatever assay you are using. From the FDA: “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.”

So, you can either trust that we know what we are talking about at Gluten Free Watchdog or you can have your product reported to the FDA.

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Comments (3)

  • Stefano Curotto

    Dear Sirs, I would imagine that yoiu hold this site in the interest of the Celiac people. Now your attitude towards a Norm of the FDA which is, unfortunately like many others (see legislation on allowed colours for food) blind and unjustified, appears to be of plain acquaintance. You should perhaps know that in the EU we have the best laws to defend consumer rights, and when we say a product is fit for Celiac people, it´s because we know IT IS. A Barley Malt Extract processed correctly will contain far less than 20 ppm, which is the sensitivity threshold of 99 / 100 Celiacs. Why are you then happy to take away such perfectly healthy products from your Celiac Friends, instead of campaigning versus the FDA to revise their absurd rules?
    Gluten-free products are made FOR Celiac people, not AGAINST them.
    Best regards

    November 24, 2020 at 9:09 pm
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Thank you for your comments. Fermented and hydrolyzed gluten (including wheat and barley) is not allowed in foods labeled gluten-free in the US. This is a position I agree with. Why? It is very difficult to accurately assess foods for gluten when it has been broken apart into smaller protein fragments. Please see the article by Panda and Garber available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2019.00097/full
      “It is currently impossible to accurately quantitate gluten in fermented/hydrolyzed foods and assess its potential immunopathogenicity using antibody-based methods. This is complicated by the fact that no current commercial antibody-based assay targets all the components of gluten. Further complicating the quantitative analysis of hydrolyzed gluten is the lack of appropriate calibrants that reflect the protein/peptide profiles characteristic of the various forms of fermentation. It is therefore necessary to first distinguish between the protein/peptide profiles to ensure the use of appropriate calibration standards for accurate quantitation. Mass spectrometry has potential by virtue of its ability to directly detect the peptides and proteins; however, its use as a routine analytical method is still in its infancy.”

      Please also see the https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/what-the-fda-has-to-say-about-testing-for-gluten/ and https://www.glutenfreewatchdog.org/news/updated-statement-from-fda-on-malt-malt-extract-malt-syrup-similar-malt-derived-ingredients/

      November 26, 2020 at 1:42 am
      • Tricia Thompson Reply

        The FDA states the following about barley malt, barley malt extract, and barley malt syrup:

        “Can ingredients such as barley malt and barley malt extract be used in foods bearing a “gluten-free” claim?

        No. Malt syrup and malt extract are interchangeable terms for a viscous concentrate of a water extract of germinated barley, with or without a preservative. The terms barley malt or barley malt extract are used also. Malt extract and malt syrup are ingredients derived from a gluten-containing grain, barley, that has not been processed to remove gluten. Food and ingredient manufacturers should be aware that malt extract and other similar malt-derived ingredients are ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains that have not been processed to remove gluten and, therefore, cannot be used in foods that bear a “gluten-free” labeling claim.”

        We have tested barley malt syrup:
        Sandwich R5 ELISA and cocktail extraction solution: Mean gluten level of 52 ppm.
        Competitive R5 ELISA and ethanol and fish gelatin extraction: > 283 ppm gluten.

        November 26, 2020 at 1:57 am

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