Five things you need to know about high fructose corn syrup

Posted by
February 16, 2012

To Welch's "natural" means no HFCS — Since Food Identity Theft went online last September, we’ve been reporting on the many ways food manufacturers try to deceive us with misleading words, ingredients and fancy packaging.  But of all the issues we’ve covered to date, by far the most deceptive, glaring example of the food industry attempting to scam the public is the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) plan to rebrand the unpopular high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) ingredient with the sweeter-sounding name “corn sugar.”

The CRA has been spending big bucks on a campaign to fill your head with misinformation and twisted facts, starting with the slippery way they’ve introduced the name “corn sugar” on the airwaves and Internet, hoping it will “catch on,” and the old, discredited moniker go down the memory hole.

But despite all the deceptive methods the CRA has employed (as well as the $50 million-plus it has spent) to get its message across, we still think consumers know when they are being deceived, and they don’t like it. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, “…you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

1. HFCS is not “corn sugar”

Sorry, Charlie, but the name “corn sugar” has already been taken. This “new name” (and obvious alias) for a substance many consumers have put on their list of ingredients to avoid actually belongs to a totally different product recognized by the FDA – one that contains NO fructose. It is comprised of dextrose and is used in home brewing, baking, cooking and by those who are fructose intolerant.

(Will the “real” corn sugar please stand up?)

2. HFCS is not “natural”

Despite all the CRA’s pretty pictures of corn fresh from the field, HFCS is decidedly not a “natural” ingredient.

HFCS is rather a man-made, highly-processed laboratory-created concoction in which the glucose in corn syrup is fermented and processed to create a desired amount of the much-sweeter fructose. Manufacturing HFCS is highly complicated, although the result is typically cheaper than real sugar.

Karo corn syrup contains NO high fructose corn syrup!

3. HFCS is not conventional “corn syrup”

I have seen many examples of sloppy reporters using the word “corn syrup” when they are actually referring to HFCS.

The FDA recognizes corn syrup as its own separate ingredient, one derived from corn starch that is converted to varying amounts of glucose. Some corn syrup products you can buy in the supermarket may contain HFCS as an added ingredient; however, Karo corn syrup company wants to make sure consumers know that its corn syrup product doesn’t – by advertising No HFCS on its website and bottles.

4. HFCS is not sugar

Only sugar is sugar.  Real sugar is a natural food that only comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.

5. HFCS is probably higher in fructose than previously thought

One of the CRA’s favorite ploys is to claim that HFCS really isn’t “high” in fructose, and to say how similar it is to sugar (not true).

What was commonly believed to be the fructose content of HFCS in sodas and drinks was 55 percent, but a study featured last year in the journal Obesity by Dr. Michael Goran, found fructose levels in the Coke, Pepsi and Sprite that were analyzed as high as 65 percent. In fact, high fructose corn syrup looks like the perfect name for this laboratory-concocted sweetener!

There’s still time to help stop the scam

As long as the 2010 petition from the CRA to change the name of  HFCS to “corn sugar” remains open for comment, you still have a chance to speak your mind and make a difference. The CRA is taking advantage of the fact the FDA is dragging its feet on this petition by using it as an opportunity to keep the “conversation,” as they like to call it, going with more annoying commercials and web sites.

Make sure you take a moment to click here and convey your comments to the FDA. You can copy and paste some sample messages from this page, or compose one of your own.

Remember, “corn sugar” is actually dextrose, a long-recognized product that contains NO fructose. And “sugar,” one of the oldest natural sweeteners, can only come from sugar cane or sugar beets. So please tell the FDA to reject this ridiculous attempt to conceal HFCS on packaging. You can say Food Identity Theft sent me!


Linda Bonvie —