I’m sure we have all heard the point/counterpoint surrounding the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in everything from soda to ketchup to bread. On one side you have the Corn Refiners Association stating HFCS is broken down and absorbed by the body just like any other sugar. On the other side you have nutritionists, health care providers, and consumer advocacy groups merely repeating the standard wisdom that HFCS is bad for you, with little explanation as to why. There are many studies on both sides that discuss the way our bodies process HFCS vs Sugar and other sweeteners; you can read them and form your own conclusions, but keep in mind who is funding each of those studies.
There is also a related segment of this discussion about HFCS, and that is why it is so cheap, and why the surplus of corn is so vast that food manufacturers are shoving it in to products where it really has no business being.
But that isn’t what this article is all about. In the wake of the negative publicity HFCS is receiving, the Corn Refiners Association has decided on a new approach. “Let’s just rebrand HFCS as Corn Sugar, that way the people who are shopping and have been trained to avoid HFCS will be duped into buying our products again.” Oh wait, not duped; according to the Corn Refiners Association website “Relabeling high fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar” would enable consumers to easily identify added sugars in the diet.”
Seriously? Intentionally obfuscating a standard household name for a product is going to make it easier for consumers?
Despite the fact that the Corn Refiners Association claims the name changed is approved by the FDA, the FDA would beg to differ. Unfortunately, the FDA is toothless in this case. They can’t prohibit the Corn Refiners from using the name as a part of their marketing, since it is not an actual product they, themselves, are selling. They can only go after manufacturers who use the name Corn Sugar as a part of their own product label. But will they?
It should be insulting that the corn processing industry thinks that consumers would fall for such a tactic, but sadly I think they are right. It could take the general public years to come to grips with this change in terminology, during which time much of the progress that has been made in educating consumers on which products should or shouldn’t contain added sweeteners would be lost.