I was doing fine with the whole gluten free thing. Then I found out about beer. And soy sauce. But that was OK, because even though the bread, pastry, cake area was pretty much forbidden to me, I could still eat lollies! No wheat products in those.
I kept seeing this word coming up on all sorts of ingredient lists: maltodextrin. I suddenly had a nasty thought about what might be in maltodextrin, given that malt is also in beer. It’s nothing to do with malt as it turns out. Here’s the wikipedia definition:
Maltodextrin can be enzymatically derived from any starch. In the US, this starch is usually corn; in Europe, it is commonly wheat. While wheat-derived maltodextrin may cause concern for celiacs that it may contain gluten, maltodextrin is such a highly processed ingredient that the protein is removed, rendering it gluten free. If wheat is used to make maltodextrin, it will appear on the label. Even so, the maltodextrin will be gluten free.
Now where it says that if wheat is used it will say on the label, this is only true in the US and Europe. In New Zealand, you’re not legally required to say if it is a derivative of wheat, however in Australasia, our maltodextrin normally comes from wheat. So the jury appears to be out about the whole gluten free maltodextrin thing. From what I’ve read (what did we do before the internet?) there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that people sensitive to gluten react to products which have maltodextrin in them, even though it’s supposedly OK because of the amount of processing. There’s similar debate about beer as well – suggesting that the gluten content is microscopic and should be fine.
For me personally, well, I decided to stay away from gluten completely for the first 6 months, so I’m staying away from beer and pineapple lumps. And other lollies. Of course, I’ve had to restart my 6 months several times, owing to the beer, soy sauce and pineapple lumps!
Footnote: I had a Guinness on St Patrick’s day (well, you have to really and I had no Irish whiskey available. Note to self: check to see if whiskey is gluten free!). My face was fine the next day but I was very itchy on my legs and arms almost immediately and I felt very hot. I seem to be OK with the occasional pineapple lump though 🙂