A Fresh Start for Corn Farmers' Poisonous Product?

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The Corn Refiners Association is asking the FDA to allow a change in the name of their embattled sweetener from "high-fructose corn syrup" (HFCS) to "corn sugar."

Of course they want this change. HFCS is the new trans fat. Everyone thinks HFCS is poison.

For the record once again, HFCS is not poison. It is just a mixture of glucose and fructose in almost the same proportions as table sugar, sucrose.

Food companies are getting rid of high-fructose corn syrup as fast as they can and replacing it with table sugar.

Mind you, I am not fond of the idea that Americans use 60 pounds of corn sweeteners per capita per year and another 60 pounds of table sugar, and I am not particularly eager to help the Corn Refiners sell more of their stuff.

But you can understand the Corn Refiners' pain: Food companies are getting rid of HFCS as fast as they can and replacing it with table sugar.

This move is driven not only by bad press but also by the fact that the price differential has all but disappeared. HFCS started out at one-third the cost of table sugar. Growing corn to make alcohol changed all that.

Let's give the Corn Refiners credit for calling a sugar a sugar. I would prefer "corn sugars" (plural) to indicate that it is a mixture of glucose and fructose. But as long as they don't call it "natural," the change is okay with me.

But I'm wondering if it's too late. Maybe anything with the word "corn" in it will be enough to turn people off? According to the Associated Press, the Corn Refiners are already using "corn sugar" in their advertising, so we will soon find out.

Your thoughts?


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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