Corn Sugar?

September 17,2010
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

I’ve read the reports, stories and other information that tell me that high fructose corn syrup is not that different than sugar, but for some reason, I have this thing against it. I know I am not alone, since lots and lots of companies, in response to consumer reaction, are eschewing this cheaper alternative to sugar, and reverting their ingredient list back to good old fashioned sugar cane. What do you think about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)? Chances are you have a negative reaction to it, much like the predecessor to HFCS on the “maligned foods” list, partially hydrogenated oils. HFCS is, according to nutritionists and scientists that are a lot more knowledgeable than me, molecularly very similar to sugar. And yet, the whole idea that the process to make HFCS involves a whole lot of, well, processing, does make it a processed food, rather than a natural ingredient. The corn people launched a campaign not too long ago called “sweet surprise,” in which they had print and television media commercials touting the fact that corn syrup was made from a natural ingredient and no worse for you than sugar. I don’t follow the success or failure of marketing campaigns, but I have a feeling that it didn’t go so well, since consumers continue to avoid products with HFCS. In fact, Kraft and ConAgra Foods have both gone through considerable efforts to remove HFCS from many of its barbecue sauces, ketchup and salad dressings, among other things. Both Heinz and Hunts are offering HFCS-free ketchups and if you look for it, you will see food labels attached to everything from bread to crackers to cereals highlighting “No High Fructose Corn Syrup!” (Great, but in many cases there are other items on the list about which you should be weary). Now comes word that the association that represents the corn industry and by default, corn syrup in its various forms, is trying to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the name of HFCS to “corn sugar.” Apparently admitting that HFCS is a negatively-charged word, the hope is that a new name will allow their product to be used without most consumers noticing. In this Wall Street Journal article from Wednesday it shares how the corn association hopes that the FDA will allow this name change, although this is apparently rare. Knowing how Washington, DC proceeds with change (like molasses, which by the way, is a natural sweetener!), it could be awhile before the FDA even considers moving forward, but since there are so many out there that are weary of HFCS, buyer beware! SPC