Sticky Note

HFCS Controversy

Is HFCS Good or Bad -
Atlanta, GA, July 2, 2012 (RM101) - There has been a lot of controversy the past couple of years about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Reports say it is bad for human health and others say it is no more than sugar.  RM101 decided to explore the controversy and did a little research on HFCS.

A Princeton University research team, including (from left) undergraduate Elyse Powell, psychology professor Bart Hoebel, visiting research associate Nicole Avena and graduate student Miriam Bocarsly, has demonstrated that rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup -- a sweetener found in many popular sodas -- gain significantly more weight than those with access to water sweetened with table sugar, even when they consume the same number of calories. The work may have important implications for understanding obesity trends in the United States.
Image: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite

What is HFCS?
According to the Corn Refiners Association, high fructose corn syrup is just a sugar made from corn.(1) It has no artificial ingredients or color additives. According to the FDA, high fructose corn syrup is a sweet, nutritive saccharide mixture. Sugar is also a saccharide.

The Sweet Surprise website states that nutritionally, HFCS is the same as sugar and both sweeteners are metabolized by the body the same way.

Is HFCS Safe in Food?
In a 1996 ruling, (remember 1996 - 14 years ago), the FDA ruled that the use of HFCS in food is GRAS (generally recognized as safe). In that ruling, the FDA considered a comment entered by a diabetes research center.

The Diabetes Research Center stated its opinion that the safety of HFCS as it relates to diabetics has not been totally established. It suggested that the fact that its safety for diabetics had not been fully established should be stated somewhere on the product label.

The comment did not provide any support for its conclusion or for the suggested labeling requirement. Therefore, the FDA did not agree with the comment. Instead, the FDA agreed with three trade associations (three trade associations) who strongly endorsed affirming the use of HFCS in food as GRAS.(2)

Now, that ruling was in 1996 but essentially changed nothing from the 1998 study. So the research is 24 years old.

HFCS Contributes To Obesity?
Again, the Sweet Surprise website states that the American Dietetic Association concluded in December 2008 that “No persuasive evidence supports the claim that high fructose corn syrup is a unique contributor to obesity.”

In 2010, in research supported by the U.S. Public Health Service, Princeton researchers conducted two experiments investigating the link between the consumption of high fructose corn syrup and obesity. The results of the experiments were published online by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.

The research showed that rats with access to high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.(3)

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. Read the full report on HFCS.

Many items sold in restaurants today contain HFCS. You may be surprised to find HFCS in certain products, including hot dog buns and many other breads.

HFCS in Rice Cereal. Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.

It might also be found in prepared macaroni and cheese, lunch meats, soups and condiments. It is even found in a popular rice cereal. Check the ingredient labels to be prepared to discuss with your customers if they ask.

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.

(1) Corn Refiners Association, Quick Facts About HFCS
(2) Federal Register, August 23, 1996, Rules and Regulations
(3) Princeton University, March 22, 2010

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