High Fructose Corn Syrup: By Any Other Name, Still As Sweet
The Corn Refiners Association has formally asked the US Food and Drug Administration for a name change for its highly undesirable product – high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The ingredient is being phased out of some American food products because of its link to many health concerns, such as high blood pressure and obesity.
Corn Sugar Better Reflects Ingredient Source, Says CRA President
HFCS is made by changing sugar (glucose) from corn starch into fructose. The end product is a combination of fructose and glucose. Because it is also a preservative and extends the shelf life of food, high-fructose corn syrup has become a popular ingredient in a wide variety of foods, particularly in soft drinks.
The CRA has requested to change high fructose corn syrup to simply “corn sugar”. The association says that the name change is primarily about “customer clarity” as the term may be better understood by consumers. Audrae Erickson, president of the CRA, says that the term corn sugar “succinctly and accurately describes what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from.”
The organization states that, despite the name, HFCS is not high in fructose, but actually contains portions of fructose and glucose that is similar to sucrose (table sugar). The two most common types of HCFS used in foods are called HFCS 55 which is approximately 55% fructose and 45% glucose and HFCS 42, which is 42% fructose and 58% glucose.
They also state that corn syrup is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose, which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose - and metabolized the same way in the body as other sugars.
According to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans consume about 35.7 pounds of high fructose corn syrup, sometimes called HFCS, each year. The number is declining due to “bad publicity”, says the CRA. Today, we use about 21 percent less corn sugar than we did 10 years ago.
By comparison, Americans consume about 44 pounds of sugar from cane and beets, and that number has remained stable.
Currently, five manufactures make all corn sugar in the US – Archer Daniels Midland Inc, Corn Products International, Cargill, Roquette American, and Tate & Lyle.
The FDA could take up to two years to decide on the request.