Updated statement from FDA on malt, malt extract, malt syrup, & similar malt-derived ingredients

Updated statement from FDA on malt, malt extract, malt syrup, & similar malt-derived ingredients

For years Gluten Free Watchdog (GFWD) has been asking FDA to clarify for manufacturers that malt and malt extract from barley can NOT be included in foods carry a gluten-free claim. We were advised that the agency would not be providing additional guidance until the publication of the final rule on gluten-free labeling of fermented and hydrolyzed foods and ingredients. FDA was true to its word and on August 13, the same day the rule was published in the Federal Register, GFWD was advised that the Q&A on gluten-free labeling had been updated to include a section on fermented and hydrolyzed foods and ingredients. See https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/questions-and-answers-gluten-free-food-labeling-final-rule

The Q&A information on malt reads:

“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.”

After publication of the rule, GFWD reached out to FDA to ask whether it was necessary to resubmit product complaints for the facially misbranded products not yet subject to enforcement action. We were advised that we did not need to resubmit a claim at this time. We impatiently await action on the following products:

  • Dandy Blend Instant Herbal Beverage (Organic). Reported to FDA via CAERS on July 14, 2020. Report acknowledged by CAERS July 15, 2020. First reported to FDA in 2014 (6 1/2 years ago). Product packaging includes a gluten-free claim. The ingredients list reads, “extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root and sugar beet.”
  • Restructure Protein Powder.  Second complaint. Reported to FDA via CAERS on July 10, 2020. Report acknowledged by CAERS July 10, 2020. After GFWD’s first complaint the product was recalled but because of undeclared milk only. The gluten-free claim remains on product packaging and “germinated barley seed powder” remains in the ingredients list. The label now includes a sticker that reads, “Contains Milk, Soy.”
  • So Nourished Gold Alternative Sweetener. Reported to FDA via CAERS on May 26, 2020. Report acknowledged by CAERS on May 28, 2020. Product packaging includes a gluten-free claim. The ingredients list reads, “Erythritol, Tagatose, Malt extract, Monk fruit extract, Glycerol.”
  • Grow Girl Hair Growth Dietary Supplement.  Reported to FDA via CAERS on January 28, 2020. Report acknowledged by CAERS on January 29, 2020. The product is labeled “no gluten” which FDA considers a synonym for “gluten free” yet it includes “malt syrup” in the ingredients list.

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Comments (8)

  • Jan Lee Reply

    Great work, Tricia! Thank you for getting the FDA to clarify this important point. Hopefully manufacturers will read it and change their labeling/ingredients.

    August 17, 2020 at 3:53 pm
  • Shal Lynch Reply

    Finally!! Thank you for your persistence!

    August 17, 2020 at 5:15 pm
  • Dr. Michael Rasler Reply

    I found the information very informative. Thank You for making it available.

    September 10, 2020 at 12:21 am
  • Harriet McGaffin Reply

    Again, there are no words to express how grateful I am for your dedication to keeping our community safe.

    September 2, 2021 at 10:43 am
    • Tricia Thompson Reply

      Hi Harriet, Thank you so much for your support and kind words.

      September 2, 2021 at 2:35 pm
  • Joseph Poole Reply

    Is malt flavor extract natural (olivenation brand) even a real malt product? it’s only made of propylene glycol, alcohol, and natural flavor. It doesn’t list barley, malt, or any vegan source. and comfirming with the small ingredient list is a gluten free feature with yes as the answer. Unnamed vegan malts are commonly presumed to be barley based. yet that particular product doesn’t seem to be a real vegan malt item according to that ingredient list. I noticed some UK brands listing malted barley as a GF ingredient, I wonder if they practice distillation of those sub ingredients to include it in GF foods, I mean why label barley base sub ingredients as GF in UK if not distillation processed?

    June 10, 2022 at 8:55 pm
  • Misty Dake Reply

    How do we report a product? I have been seeing quite a few vitamin gummies that have “gluten free” on the label but contain barely malt syrup.

    January 14, 2024 at 3:23 pm

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