Maltitol is manufactured by hydrogenating maltose, the glucose-glucose disaccharide (two sugars) derived from cornstarch. The use of maltitol in food is approved in most countries including Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
While maltitol has not been approved officially for use in food in the United States, U.S. food manufacturers may use maltitol since FDA has accepted the 1986 petition seeking this approval. In 1999, FDA agreed officially that a value of 2.1 calories per gram was acceptable.
Maltitol is about 90% as sweet as sugar. This feature makes it attractive to the food manufacturer as a one-for-one replacement of sugar.
The FDA petition seeks approval for the use of maltitol in the same food categories approved for sorbitol and mannitol.