High-fructose corn syrup taking a cue from frivolous musicians?

Odd, sure. But just like a famous musician would change his name to reinvent himself (à la Diddy) or a shamed athlete would change his jersey number (à la Kobe), the carbohydrate formerly known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has taken their cue and changed its name to “corn sugar.”

The Corn Refiners Association, which represents firms that make the syrup, has been trying to improve the image of the infamous sweetener with ad campaigns promoting it as a natural ingredient made from corn. This week the group petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start calling the ingredient “corn sugar,” arguing that a name change is the only way to clear up consumer confusion about the product. I wonder if this also has anything to do with their sales being at a 20-year low? The Corn Refiners Association have recently tried to drive a new point home — that unlike regular sugar, HFCS drives profitability for members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and fulfills non-food roles in the following ways:
• Maintains freshness in condiments
• Enhances fruit & spice flavors in marinades
• Aids in fermentation for breads and yogurts
• Retains moisture in breakfast bars & cereals
• Makes high fiber baked goods and cereals palatable
• Maintains consistent flavors in beverages
• Keeps ingredients evenly mixed in salad dressings

Does this mean we should all be running out to the corner store to grab this magical liquid sweetener?

Not quite, says Marion Nestle, a professor in New York University’s department of nutrition and a longtime food industry critic. She says that the plural “corn sugars” is a better description of high-fructose corn syrup, which is actually a mixture of glucose and fructose.

Gosh, what is a food consumer to do now? Are we accurate when we call HFCS the new trans-fat, the new food item that everyone should stay away from as though it were a matter of life and death? Most leading scientists and nutrition experts say no — they agree that in terms of health, the effect of high-fructose corn syrup is the same as regular sugar, and, of course, that too much of either ingredient is bad for your health.

Bottom line: everything in moderation, kids.

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