Corn Refiners Sweet on HFCS

The article “High Fructose Corn Syrup: Is This Disguised Sugar Affecting Your Diabetes?”(May 2005) unfortunately suggests that food manufacturers are misusing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a natural, home-grown sweetener from Midwest corn fields.

Please share the following relevant, scientific facts about HFCS with your readers:

HFCS contains approximately equal ratios of fructose and glucose, similar to table sugar. The human body cannot discern a difference between HFCS, table sugar (sucrose) and honey because they are all nearly compositionally equivalent.

HFCS has been proven beneficial to consumers through its use in many foods and beverages, including several products that are specifically made for people trying to control their weight.

The American Dietetic Association notes that “Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations . . . as well as individual health goals.”

Recent mischaracterizations of HFCS as a unique cause of obesity do not represent the consensus opinion of scientific experts. The Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech issued a report last year compiled by scientists who reviewed a number of critical commentaries about HFCS. Their analysis found that HFCS is not a unique contributor to obesity.

In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration listed HFCS as “generally recognized as safe” (known as GRAS status) for use in food, and they reaffirmed that ruling in 1996.

I encourage you to visit for more information.

Audrae Erickson
Corn Refiners Association
Washington, D.C.

We asked dietitian Christopher Mohr, the author of the article, to respond:

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. Our intention was to bring to light the increase in use of HFCS over the past 30 years and to extrapolate findings from some of the research studies conducted and published in highly regarded scientific journals like the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

While some of the data presented came from animal studies, this was noted in the paper, resulting in the use of tentative words such as “may increase” or “can lead to”; there are not data to support any cause and effect relationship, and none was suggested.

It was in no way our intention to undermine the corn growers of America. We understand that HFCS has not caused the obesity epidemic in this country.

Any food product that lists a sweetener – be it HFCS or pure glucose – as one of the first ingredients is not the best nutritional choice. Again, the most important message in the piece is to stick to foods or food products that undergo the least amount of food processing, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains without any added sweeteners.

Christopher Mohr, MS, RD

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