High fructose corn syrup consumption is at a 20-year-low. The Corn Refiners Association would like to change the names that appear on labels with the term “corn sugar”. Sometimes, renaming a product can up its sales. When the name “canola oil” replaced “low eurcic acid rapeseed oil” sales went up, as did the sales of “prunes” when their name changed to “dried plums”.

Despite advertising campaigns which promote corn syrup as being a natural ingredient that comes from corn, sales are still poor. Hence the industry has petitioned the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for a change of name. According to the industry, a change of name would sort out any consumer confusion regarding its product.

Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, said:

Consumers need to know what is in their foods and where their foods come from and we want to be clear with them. The term ‘corn sugar’ succinctly and accurately describes what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from – corn.

Over half of American consumers believe corn sugar has some kind of health risk, according to a study carried out by the NPD Group, a market research company.

According to the Corn Refiners Association, high fructose corn syrup is safe and affordable, and does not have a high fructose level when compared to table sugar, honey or fruit juice concentrates. High fructose corn syrup is half glucose and half fructose, just like table sugar is. The Association adds that its product is metabolized by the body in the same way as regular table sugar.

The Association adds that high fructose corn syrup that is added to many baked foods has lower fructose concentrations than table sugar.

Independent research has shown that the current labeling is confusing to American consumers, the Association writes. Apparently, 58% of American consumers believe that high fructose corn syrup has more fructose than table sugar – this is a myth, their fructose contents are about the same.

High fructose corn syrup is not some new ingredient; it has been used for over four decades as an added ingredient in foods and drinks.

In a December 2008 report, the American Dietetic Association confirmed that:

(high fructose corn syrup is) nutritionally equivalent to sucrose (table sugar)..the sweeteners contain the same number of calories per gram..once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.

In its website, the Corn Refiners Association writes:

As Americans grapple with an “obesity epidemic,” well-renowned nutritionists question whether sweetener confusion could lead consumers to make misinformed decisions about sugars in their diets.

Registered Dietitian Carolyn O’Neil, said:

The last thing we want is for Americans to think that avoiding high fructose corn syrup is the answer. All added sugars should be consumed in moderation – corn sugar, table sugar, honey and fruit juice concentrates. These sugars contain an equal number of calories that must be burned off – or the body will convert them to fat.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. (Link).

Researchers in the US found that much of the high fructose corn syrup that is increasingly replacing sugar in processed foods is tainted with mercury, a metal that is toxic to humans. They also tested many branded food products and found they too contained mercury. (Link).

Pure Fructose Frequently Confused With High Fructose Corn Syrup – New Studies, Ongoing Misunderstanding Can Lead To Consumer Confusion – as researchers continue to examine the role of sweeteners in the diet, it’s important that people understand the differences among various ingredients used in scientific studies, according to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA). Interchanging two distinctly different ingredients, such as pure fructose and high fructose corn syrup, creates factually incorrect conclusions and misleads consumers. (Link)

Sources: Corn Refiners Association, Medical News Today (archives)

Written by Christian Nordqvist