SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Supplements, Health & Nutrition - Europe US edition | APAC edition

News > Suppliers

Read more breaking news

 

 
Comment

High fructose corn syrup: A sugar by any other name

1 commentBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 28-Sep-2010
Last updated on 28-Sep-2010 at 15:23 GMT2010-09-28T15:23:46Z

Once upon a time sugar was sugar, and sugar was most definitely not good for you. So the Corn Refiners Association move to rebrand high fructose corn syrup as corn sugar is a daring move – but should do little to sweeten its reputation.

Earlier this month, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow food and beverage manufacturers to label high fructose corn syrup ‘corn sugar’. The CRA says the move is about clarity for consumers, but who are they kidding? There's clearly more to it than that.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has suffered from a serious image problem for years, having been variously accused of causing obesity and type-2 diabetes, not to mention being an evil, secret weapon of mass destruction. The evidence behind such claims is, at best, inconclusive (and at worst paranoid fear-mongering) but at this stage it hardly matters. The sweetener has fallen out of favor with consumers and sales have slumped.

Providing clarity?

Whatever the premise, the Corn Refiners are right about the effect that a name change could have – it would make the nature of HFCS absolutely clear. Yes, it is a sugar and no, it is not significantly higher in fructose than other sugars.

But I wonder about the sense of this for the corn refining industry. Don’t they know that dietary guidelines have consistently urged us to avoid added sugars? And now that consumers recognize the term, the industry risks being accused of trying to hide HFCS under another name.

Perhaps they’re hoping that no one is paying attention: Recent research suggests that Americans have dismally poor adherence to dietary guidelines anyway.

Nevertheless, surely we can get the hang of the simple idea that too much sugar is bad for us, instead of believing that switching from one sugar to another will miraculously lead to good health – whether it comes from cane, beets, corn, or even agave.

Meanwhile food and beverage manufacturers have latched on to widespread consumer confusion, feeding our collective sweet tooth with sucrose rather than HFCS and marketing it as different – and better.

Too much sugar

In a way, HFCS has been a victim of its own success. It is a versatile ingredient and has many useful functions. It can extend the shelf life of bread, for instance, and because it is a syrup it often works better than sucrose in liquid formulations. But we simply eat too many added sugars in general – and HFCS, no matter what you call it, is in so many American foods.

It is expected to take the FDA up to two years to decide whether to allow manufacturers to list HFCS as corn sugar on ingredient labels.

If the agency says yes, it may help consumer awareness of the ubiquity of sugars in the American diet.

But I predict it would do little to sugar-coat the reputation of HFCS.

Caroline Scott-Thomas is a journalist specializing in the food industry. Prior to completing a Masters degree in journalism at Edinburgh's Napier University, she had spent five years working as a chef.

1 comment (Comments are now closed)

HFCS

the CRA should not try to confuse the consumers by trying to change HFCS back to corn sugar

Report abuse

Posted by cw chiu
07 October 2010 | 02h282010-10-07T02:28:06Z

Live Supplier Webinars

Polyphenols tipped to become the way to innovate in Sports Nutrition
Fytexia
Orally bioavailable standardized botanical derivatives in sport nutrition: special focus on recovery in post-intense physical activities
Indena
Collagen in motion: move freely and keep your injuries in check
Leading manufacturer of gelatine and collagen peptides
Life’s too short for slow proteins. Whey proteins hydrolysates: Fast delivery for enhanced performance
Arla Foods Ingredients
What it Takes to Compete and Win in Today’s Sports Nutrition Market
Capsugel
Sports Nutrition Snapshot: Key regional drivers and delivery format innovations
William Reed Business Media
Gutsy performance: How can microbiome modulation help athletes and weekend warriors
William Reed Business Media
Pushing the boundaries: Where’s the line between ‘cutting edge nutrition’ and doping
William Reed Business Media
Alpha & Omega in Sports Nutrition – Using Omega 3’s and A-GPC to improve performance and recovery.
KD Pharma

On demand Supplier Webinars

High-amylose maize starch may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes: what does this qualified health claim mean?
Ingredion
Balancing Innovation and Risk in Sports Nutrition Ingredients
NSF-International
Explaining bio-hacking: is there a marketing opportunity for food companies?
William Reed Business Media
Personalized Nutrition – how an industry can take part in shaping the future of Nutrition
BASF Nutrition & Health
Find out Nutritional and ingredient lifecycle solutions and strategies!
Roquette
Is the time rIpe for I-nutrition?
William Reed Business Media
The Advantage of Outsourcing Fermentation-based Manufacturing Processes
Evonik Health Care
All supplier webinars