Maltodextrin is a food additive that is produced from a grain starch. In the United States, it is most commonly produced using corn, but it can also be produced from rice, potatoes and wheat. The starch goes through a process called partial hydrolysis, which uses water, enzymes and acids to create a water-soluble white powder. Interestingly, the partial hydrolysis method leaves maltodextrin with less than 20 percent sugar content. However, full hydrolysis creates corn syrup solids, which have over 20 percent sugar.
Maltodextrin powder is used as a stabilizer, sweetener and thickener in many packaged foods. It is found in condiments like salad dressings, spice mixes, soups and sauces, baked goods, yogurt, nutrition bars, sugar-free sweeteners (take a close look at your Stevia sweetener!) and meal replacement shakes.
Maltodextrin is easy and cheap to produce making it very appealing to food manufacturers.