Maltitol is a reduced calorie bulk sweetener with sugar-like taste and sweetness. Its stability, high sweetness, and structure make it suitable for a variety of reduced-calorie, reduced-fat and sugar-free foods. Maltitol does not promote tooth decay.
Maltitol is a member of a family of bulk sweeteners known as polyols or sugar alcohols. It has a pleasant sweet taste — remarkably similar to sucrose. Maltitol is about 90% as sweet as sugar, non-cariogenic, and significantly reduced in calories. Maltitol is especially useful in the production of sweets, including sugarless hard candies, chewing gum, chocolates,* baked goods and ice cream.
Maltitol is made by the hydrogenation of maltose which is obtained from starch. Like other polyols, it does not brown or caramelize as do sugars. Maltitol’s high sweetness allows it to be used without other sweeteners. It exhibits a negligible cooling effect in the mouth compared to most other polyols. Although maltitol is often used to replace sugars in the manufacture of sugar-free foods, it may also be used to replace fat as it gives a creamy texture to food.
*In this context, chocolate refers to chocolate flavored confectionary
Facts About Maltitol
- Bulk sweetener with a clean sweet taste similar to sucrose in intensity
- Reduced-calorie sweetener with only 2.1 calories per gram
- Useful in formulating a variety of low-calorie, low-fat and sugar-free foods
- Especially useful in the manufacture of sucrose-free chocolate
- May be useful for people with diabetes because it does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels
- Does not contribute to the formation of dental caries
The safety of maltitol as a food ingredient is substantiated by numerous studies in both humans and animals. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has reviewed the safety data and concluded that maltitol is safe. JECFA has established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for maltitol of “not specified,” meaning no limits are placed on its use. An ADI “not specified” is the safest category in which JECFA can place a food ingredient. Many countries which do not have their own agencies to review food additive safety adopt JECFA’s decisions.
The Scientific Committee for Food of the European Union (EU) published a comprehensive assessment of sweeteners in 1985, concluding that maltitol is acceptable for use, also without setting a limit on its use.
A petition to affirm the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status of maltitol has been accepted for filing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This petition describes the use of maltitol as a flavoring agent, formulation aid, humectant, nutritive sweetener, processing aid, sequestrant, stabilizer and thickener, surface-finishing agent and texturizer. In particular, the petition addresses the use of maltitol at levels of up 99.5% in hard candy and cough drops, 99% in sugar substitutes, 85% in soft candies, 75% in chewing gum, 55% in non-standardized jams and jellies and 30% in cookies and sponge cake.
As with other polyols, maltitol may produce a laxative effect when consumed at very high levels. An information statement similar to the one required for other polyols is recommended in the GRAS petition for foreseeable consumption of greater than 100 grams per day of maltitol.
Multiple Ingredient Approach to Calorie Control
Maltitol is a versatile ingredient that allows food manufacturers to develop new foods that both taste good and are lower in calories, fat and/or sugar. Maltitol ’s qualities as a bulk sweetener make it optimal to blend with low-calorie sweeteners that are several hundred times sweeter than sucrose (but do not provide the necessary volume). Maltitol can also be used with other bulk sweeteners or polyols. Blending two or more polyols gives food manufacturers the flexibility to take advantage of each sweetener’s individual attributes. Maltitol offers food manufacturers the beneficial characteristics of mild sweetness, stability, solubility, bulk and reduced calories.