In our Supermarket “Switch this for That” series, today we are looking at which Weetbix is better from an additive perspective.


Wholegrain Wheat (97%), Raw Sugar, Salt, Barley Malt Extract, Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate), Mineral (Iron).


Wholegrain Sorghum (96%), Golden Syrup, Salt, Vitamins (E, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Folic Acid).

What is the main difference between these two Weetbix options?

There is a very obvious difference that one is Gluten Free and the other isn’t…however, I am looking at the additive that is one of these products and not the other.

That ingredient is – Barley Malt Extract.

What is Barley Malt Extract?

Barley malt extract is product as a result of the brewing process.  Malted grains are mixed together with water.  This results in the enzymes to break down the starch and protein material of the malted seed.  Next, the insoluble fibre is removed.  What you have left, is a sugary liquid.  Instead of this being fermented into beer, this is then concentrated further to make a liquid sweetener or can be dried to make a powder.

This resulting barley malt extract will often contain or produce processed free glutamic acid.  You will probably be familiar with a well known processed free glutamic acid called MSG.

Why is Barley Malt Extract used?

Barley Malt Extract is widely used in many processed products as a flavour enhancer.

When added to processed foods, it can make the blandest and cheapest foods taste great.

This ingredient is very cheap and is often a byproduct of other food manufacturing processes and manufacturers are very eager to use it, as it transforms a product that would be very bland otherwise.

What are the potential effects of Barley Malt Extract?

Given barley malt extract can contain processed glutamic acid it is important to understand the effects of the processed glutamic acid on individuals that may be sensitive.

Typical symptoms of processed glutamic acid can be likened to the impacts of consuming MSG and include*:

  • Bronchospasm in asthmatics
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Pins and needles in upper limbs
  • Restlessness* Sourced from Chemical Maze


It is really important to read the labels of products even from the same manufacturer!

If your family are die hard Weetbix fans, I recommend you making this one simple switch!   I know from speaking to clients and those in our Additive Free Kids community that this is a very common breakfast staple and your children are unknowingly consuming additives that could be causing a multitude of symptoms.

If you would love to see Barley Malt Extract dropped from the popular Australian breakfast cereal – please comment below and I will contact Sanitarium on behalf of the Additive Free Kids community.

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