Corn Sugar?

The New York Times just published an article today in its Health and Science Blog, “Well”, about the Corn Refiners Association request to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup to a more appetizing sounding name, “corn sugar”.

The association had previously tried to convince the FDA to change the name in September of 2010 as another component of their campaign to promote their product as a “natural” (I made the quotes…) ingredient from corn. The campaign, of course, was a response to the anti-HFCS movement making its way across America.

High-fructose corn syrup is most definitely far from natural. The article says that “HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose,”. That hardly made sense to me the first time I read it. Eventually, I Wikipedia-ed it.

Basically, its produced from corn starch, which is then processed to become corn syrup, which is composed almost entirely of glucose, not fructose, yet. Then, manufacturers add certain enzymes (Wikipedia goes into detail about the different kinds) which converts 42% of the glucose into fructose. Then, a portion of the HFCS 42 is further enzyme-d into a 90% fructose concentration, which is thus mixed in with the 42 to produce the ideal concentration of HFCS 55.

Although all ingredients are quote on quote “natural”; the way the manufacturers define natural, anything made on this planet could be natural as long as it comes from the earth! (which is the entire human existence) The amount of processing that goes into HFCS is insane, Wikipedia even says that on top of everything I just explained, “Numerous filtration, ion-exchange and evaporation steps are also part of the overall process”. Now tell me again, Corn Refiners Association, that this stuff is natural??

Luckily though, the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA denied their petition for three reasons.

1. The word “sugar” could only be used for food that is solid, dried, and crystallized, all of which HFCS is not.

2. “corn sugar” has already been used to describe the sweetener dextrose.

3. Labeling HFCS as “corn sugar” could also pose a risk to individuals who must avoid any type of fructose due to a fructose intolerance since they would not identify “corn sugar” as having anything to do with fructose. Thus it would constitute a public health concern.

Thank you FDA! (for once!)



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