That which we call high-fructose corn syrup by any other name would taste just as sweet—and have just as many bad side effects, no matter the name.
High-fructose corn syrup has taken a big hit this year. As new research has arisen showing that this corn-based artificial sweetener does indeed cause more weight gain than regular table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup sales have hit a 20-year low. This isn't for lack of effort on the Corn Refiners Association's part. Through a series of commercials and other marketing efforts, the Corn Refiners Association has fought to make the American public believe that there's no difference between HFCS and regular sucrose. Now the CRA is trying a different strategy in its campaign by petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to have this sweetener's name changed on food label packaging from "high-fructose corn syrup" to "corn sugar."
High-fructose corn syrup can be found in a wide array of products, from sugary beverages to loaves of bread. Photo By Stefan/Courtesy Flickr.
The Corn Refiners Association says the name proposed name change is meant to clear up consumer confusion. Recent research has tied high-fructose corn syrup to the obesity epidemic plaguing America, but the CRA says it wants consumers to understand that HFCS is a sugar, and like all sugar should be consumed in moderation. According to the CRA, the name change would reflect exactly what the product is—sugar—and where it comes from—corn.
While I agree that it’s important to take all sugar consumption—and not just that of HFCS— into consideration to control weight gain, the name change will likely cause more confusion than clarification. If the CRA is successful in their petition, consumers who would normally put a food item back on the shelf after spotting "high-fructose corn syrup" on the label will now be duped into buying products that contain it, thereby boosting high-fructose corn syrup sales—the more likely reason behind the proposed name change.
As with any consumer issue, knowledge is power. The name change could take up to two years to pass, but if it does, remembering to watch out for "corn sugar" instead of "high-fructose corn syrup" could do you (and your waist line) a world of good.