Now more than ever, consumers want to know where their food comes from and how to easily read and understand terms on food ingredient labels. Accordingly, food labeling must be as simple and clear as possible.
That’s why the Corn Refiners Association recently petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking that food and beverage manufacturers be given the option of using “corn sugar” as an alternate ingredient name to high fructose corn syrup on product labels.
The name high fructose corn syrup is misleading to consumers because it suggests that this ingredient is high in fructose, which translates for consumers as having more calories, sweetness, and fructose than table sugar does.
Independent research confirms the consumer confusion. In a recent survey, consumers were asked what name best describes a product with the following description:
This corn product may be used to sweeten processed foods and beverages and is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose (sugar). Both sugar and this product contain the same number of calories (4 per gram) and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two products are indistinguishable.
The result? Nearly 70% of the respondents could not identify high fructose corn syrup as the best name for the product described. Additionally, nearly 60% of consumers in this same survey incorrectly believed that high fructose corn syrup has more calories than table sugar. However, the calorie content of these two sweeteners is exactly the same.
Many national health and nutrition experts agree that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar contain essentially equal ratios of the same two simple sugars and are handled the same by the body. For example, in a June 2008 news release, the American Medical Association said: “Because the composition of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are so similar, it appears unlikely that high fructose corn syrup contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose.”
And, in its December 2008 Hot Topics paper, the American Dietetic Association found that “once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”
The bottom line is this: A sugar is a sugar whether it comes from corn sugar or cane sugar.
As Americans look more closely at food labels, the term “corn sugar” succinctly and accurately describes what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from: corn.
AMA report (pdf)
ADA Hot Topics report (pdf)