Corn syrup, by any other name?

You’ve got to love the latest PR move by the Corn Refiner’s Association (CRA). It petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow it to use the term “corn sugar” instead of “high fructose corn syrup.”

All in the name of “consumer clarity,” of course. <cough>

“Consumers need to know what is in their foods and where their foods come from and we want to be clear with them,” said CRA president Audrae Erickson. “The term ‘corn sugar’ succinctly and accurately describes what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from — corn.”

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The CRA says that, like table sugar, HFCS is roughly half glucose and half fructose and therefore metabolized by the body in the same way.

But back in March, I blogged about some research out of Princeton that showed how table sugar and HFCS are different:

High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there at least two clear differences between them. First, sucrose is composed of equal amounts of the two simple sugars — it is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose — but the typical high-fructose corn syrup used in this study features a slightly imbalanced ratio, containing 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules called higher saccharides make up the remaining 3 percent of the sweetener. Second, as a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.

The CRA’s public relations department isn’t dumb. They know that language is key to repackaging and selling an unpopular product, and they’re banking on the hope that the term “corn sugar” will get them there. (It better, if they want to keep their billions in subsidies).


  • Zoe Romanowsky

    Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in “Catholic Digest,” “Faith & Family,” “National Catholic Register,” “Our Sunday Visitor,” “Urbanite,” “Baltimore Eats,” and Zo

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