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March 27, 2001

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Madison, Pennsylvania, USA:

About two years ago, you stated that maltodextrin is used as a filler and will have little impact on your blood glucose, but two months ago, you stated responded that it does, indeed raise blood sugar since it has a glycemic index almost identical to that of pure glucose. In artificial sweeteners, maltodextrin is used as a filler and the packet weighs one gram, but the calorie content is listed as zero. If maltodextrin is responsible for the weight, why doesn't the calorie content have to be reported as four? Does it mean that the content is too small to be concerned about? What is the real story on the use of maltodextrin in powder/packet form in artificial sweeteners? How do the manufacturers get away with zero calories? This is important information to know.

Answer:

It’s just sloppy application of Federal rules — rounding down small numbers instead of rounding up. Most carbohydrates in the less than three gram size do not contribute very much to glucose changes in blood. Technically, of course, they do, but with so much other variability it is usually clinically ignored.

SB
Additional comments from David Mendosa, A Writer on the Web:

If the serving size contains less than 0.5 calories, FDA regulations call for the label to read zero calories.

DM