I tried to wait on writing about this, just because I wanted to see what people were saying about this whole thing. It’s interesting… watching people twist themselves into knots trying to justify high fructose corn syrup. I think they all manage to miss the mark here, though.
A little backstory:
On September 14, the Corn Refiner’s Association said in a press release posted on its website that it has asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, to use the name “corn sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup.
The FDA considers HFCS as natural, even though critics point out that this sweetener consisting of both glucose and fructose is in reality, not found in corn. This product is made by enzymatically converting some portion of glucose, which is derived from corn starch, into fructose.
The resulting high fructose corn syrup, which is commonly used in a variety of processed foods and beverages, consists of 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose, or 42 percent fructose and 53 percent glucose.
Use of high fructose corn syrup has been linked to an increased risk of overweight and obesity, among other things. [source]
Read the emboldened paragraph one more time, then read the following:
High fructose corn syrup may be labeled natural when synthetic fixing agents do not come into contact with it during manufacturing, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fuelling further debate on the controversial sweetener.
The decision, written to the Corn Refiners Association and considered a backtrack for the FDA by organizations opposed to the ingredient, followed a meeting that was prompted by a FoodNavigator-USA.com article published in April this year.
At that time, Geraldine June, supervisor of the product evaluation and labeling team at FDA’s Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements, responded to an inquiry made by FoodNavigator-USA.com saying “we would object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing HFCS”, because it is produced using synthetic fixing agents.
However, June has now said that when HFCS is made using the process presented by Archer Daniels Midland Company, it can be considered natural.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is derived from corn, and used primarily to sweeten beverages. The trade group Corn Refiners Association and numerous industry members have long maintained that HFCS is a natural sweetener.
“This is very good news, and makes it clear once again that HFCS is at a parity with sugar,” said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association.
“HFCS contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets FDA’s requirements for the use of the term ‘natural.’ HFCS, like table sugar and honey, is natural. It is made from corn, a natural grain product.” [source]
So, apparently, high fructose corn syrup wants to go into witness protection, since everyone’s hunting for it. I get it. Okay.
Just to make sure that we, here at BGG2WL, don’t lose perspective of the issue at hand… I’m going to say the following: the Corn Refiners Association is correct.
They’re right! They’re right, they’re right, they’re right. HFCS and table sugar both cause the same problems, create the same dependencies, and [when consumed in excess] do the exact same damage. HFCS wants to attach itself to cane sugar because cane sugar doesn’t suffer the same demonization as high fructose corn syrup. Cane sugar has been “normalized,” so to speak. It’s that simple. They’re hoping to just be blended in as “a sugar” like the other guys.. but they’re not just like the other guys. The other guys aren’t everywhere like high fructose corn syrup.
HFCS is an extremely cheap way for manufacturers to ensure that you’ll like their products just a little more.. so they add as much of it in their food as you can stand. It’s that simple. From Appetite for Profit:
So now, the public has decided that HFCS is simply the wrong sweetener. As a result of this demonizing, we are now in the ridiculous situation where food companies are falling over each other to remove HFCS from their products, slap on a natural label, and get brownie points for helping Americans eat better. Exhibit A, Pepsi Natural:
Pepsi Natural is made with all-natural ingredients, including lightly sparkling water, natural sugar, natural caramel and kola nut extract.
Only Big Food would find a way to make a product full of refined white sugar (which at one time was also demonized) seem like a healthy alternative. It’s like I always say, the food industry is very good at taking criticism and turning it into a marketing opportunity.
It’s not that HFCS is the wrong sweetener… it’s the fact that America’s sweet tooth – period – is problematic. As I’ve written before:
That’s the problem with sugar. In most cases – the way it’s used often results in there being very little to blunt the impact of the sugar on your system, thus resulting in it having the same effect as an overabundance of high fructose corn syrup in your daily diet. I won’t even get on the affects that an abundance of high fructose corn syrup, an abundance of sugar and a lack of fiber can have on our appearance. The difference between sugar and high fructose corn syrup is simply that high fructose corn syrup is in almost every processed food item, and almost every processed food item is devoid of fiber. [source]
People who avoid high fructose corn syrup without taking into consideration the fact that they should be avoiding sugar altogether(and, in a way, processed foods) as best as they can are missing the mark. They’re also buying into that cycle that convinces consumers to continuously chase “health claims” on food labels. You know, the ones that say “no trans fat!!!!!!!” but still have “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” on the side? Yeah, those.
The reality of the issue is… the FDA will most likely grant the request and life will go on with people eating much more sugar than they should… that is, until they start realizing that getting rid of the boxes and reheatables and other crap is the way to go.