07 October 2010

The Debate over High-Fructose Corn Syrup's Name

You read well. High-fructose corn syrup producers asked the Food and Drug Administration the authorization to use the name "Corn Sugar" instead, on food labels.

Here is a fact: The American Medical Association says our bodies process high-fructose corn syrup just as they process cane sugar. In other words, the-maybe-soon-to-be-called "corn syrup", which is widely used in processed food, is not to blame for a weight intake or obesity. Because it hasn't been scientifically proven otherwise.


That said, a Princeton University research, introduced in an article written by Hilary Parker claims otherwise: High-fructose corn syrup prompt considerably more weight gain. True or False?

Then why change the name?

Because regardless high-fructose corn syrup is singled out by some health-conscious persons. Not dietitians, but still people who just don't want it in the food they consume. HFCS is said to sound "too scientific," not natural enough... Would calling it "corn syrup" really make a difference in that case in people's minds? I am not sure. I actually doubt it would.

What do you think?

If you'd like to read more about it, check the following articles:

- Sun Sentinel Article: Corn Syrup or Corn Sugar, by David Martosko

- Princeton University ariticle: A Sweet Problem, by Hilary Parker

- An interesting blog dedicated to high-fructose corn syrup (though not updated regularly): High Fructose Makes You Fat.


  1. Hi,
    The problem with a discussion about HFCS is that it is really HFCSs.
    Check out Archer-Daniels-Midland's website.
    ADM makes three grades of HFCS--
    Cornsweet 42,
    Cornsweet 55, used in soda
    Cornsweet 90, intensely sweet used for low-cal
    The numbers reflect the % fructose.
    42%-->90% fructose. That's quite a range.
    As it stands right now, the corn refiners
    can brew any fructose:glucose concoction they
    please. Why? Because regardless of the
    %fructose the sweetener will always ring in at 4 cal/g and it will never affect the nutrional
    breakdown on the back of the package.
    So, as far as I am concerned, you can call HFCS anything you want, corn sugar, cornsweet,
    Audrae's ambrosia, but I am asking that the
    %fructose also be listed, e.g. corn sugar-F90.
    Consumers have a right to know exactly the
    sweetener being used. Right now, only our
    livers know for sure, and unfortunately they
    don't have a vote.

    Cynthia Papierniak, M.S.

  2. I agree with Cynthia: a rose by any other name...

    I had a brief conversation with a science teacher this past summer who said something about how much corn and corn products are in all the food we eat. There's some isotope of corn that we're eating that is affecting us in ways scientists aren't sure of. Our food is sweetened with corn, animals are fed corn so it's in the meat and corn fillers are in grain products. It's sad that we have to talk to scientists to understand the foods we're eating.

  3. O! And we do have a vote! It's the dollar vote! We may have to pay more in the short run for foods with real sugar, but in the long run, I think it's worth it.

  4. Cynthia,

    thank you for the facts you shared. It's really helpful. I confess that I am a bit frustrated by the lack of transparency in food labels. In France, years ago, I remember some labels that broke down the type of sugar contained in the food, i.e. processed or not.

    Though sugar is also used to "conserve" the food, it doesn't make sense to me to add it everywhere, including bread, mayonnaise and most of the perishable you would buy in a store.


We're not going to worry about being politcally correct here. But we will be polite. We're trying to save lives!