Have you seen (or read or heard) any of the recent ads defending and praising high fructose corn syrup? These ads, released by the Corn Refiner’s Association, were created as part of a public relations and advertising campaign entitled “Changing the Conversation About High Fructose Corn Syrup.” Its purpose was (and I quote):
“To dispel myths and correct inaccuracies associated with this versatile sweetener and highlight the important role high fructose corn syrup plays in our nation’s foods and beverages. The campaign provides science-based information to consumers to enable them to make informed decisions about their food choices.”
Uh huh… OK…
Poppies in the woods
The ads themselves give few actual facts, but the accompanying website is loaded with studies and information disputing high fructose corn syrup’s bad press.
And incidentally, if you have ever wondered how high fructose corn syrup is made, the short answer is that the corn wet milling industry makes it from corn starch. The long answer is a bit more complicated, and again I quote from the website:
“The enzyme alpha-amylase is added to a slurry of starch and water to liquefy or reduce the particle size of the starch to produce glucose polymers… followed by saccharification with the enzyme glucoamylase, which breaks the glucose polymers down to their basic building blocks… A small amount of magnesium is added to the purified glucose solution. Glucose isomerase, an enzyme, is used to convert a portion of the glucose to fructose.”
And the above description is only part of the long and extremely involved process… making it very difficult, at least for me, to believe that the resulting high fructose corn syrup is the natural product the ads and site insist it is.
So why are so many processed food manufacturers putting high fructose corn syrup in their products? It’s now in pasta sauces, crackers, cereals, snack foods, fruit drinks, soft drinks, and juices… bacon, hot dogs, hams, fish and chicken products, ice creams, yogurts, canned soups, jellies, pickles, and cheese spreads, and more.
If it’s a processed food, it’s a good bet that high fructose corn syrup will be a part of the ingredient list. Do people really want to put all that manufactured fructose into their bodies?
The debate goes on about a possible link to obesity and diabetes and other health and safety issues. Each side can trot out a multitude of studies and experts to support its view. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
The American Medical Association says that high fructose corn syrup is no more unhealthy than cane sugar if it is eaten in moderation. Personally, I don’t choose to believe that, and many nutritional studies have concluded that high fructose corn syrup is worse than cane sugar… but isn’t it obvious that when anything is in so many foods, it ISN’T being eaten in moderation? Any person who routinely eats processed foods is ingesting huge quantities of high fructose corn syrup over time, often without realizing it. And even if high fructose corn syrup is no more unhealthy than sugar… would anyone choose to eat an equal amount of sugar?
Is there really any good reason for putting a sweetener… even if it doubles as a “texture enhancer”… in foods that do not need to be sweetened? I don’t think so… unless, of course, you are an industry pushing a high-profit product.
When you make the foods your family eats “from scratch”… even the occasional sweets… you control what goes into that food and you know for sure what your family is eating. That isn’t true with processed foods… and high fructose corn syrup is just another good reason to avoid them.