Big Food is at it again, fooling us with false advertisements to make us buy food we don’t want to consume. Most of today’s consumers are increasingly health conscious and want to avoid products that contain health-damaging ingredients. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is one of the substances that has made a bad name for itself.
This questionable sweetener – which is much cheaper than regular sugar, and extends the shelf life of processed products – has been linked to many health problems such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, cancer and liver failure. For this reason, many consumers have begun to check food labels and steer away from foods containing HFCS.
But manufacturers have come up with a sneaky way to fool their customers so that they don’t have to change their money-making ways. Instead of removing this cheap, harmful ingredient, they have just changed its name on packaging to conceal it within their products.
What’s in a name?
For years, the corn industry has tried to mislead us. In 2010, the Corn Refiners Association sought to improve the image of HFCS. Thankfully, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped up and turned down their request to rename HFCS to the more natural sounding term “corn sugar.”
Nonetheless, they succeeded in changing the name of a form of HFCS called HFCS-90 to fructose or fructose syrup. Since fructose makes up the sugar content in fresh fruits, it sounds much healthier than HFCS, however, when we consume fructose in fruits, we consume it along with fiber, enzymes, minerals and vitamins.
The toxic ingredient now called fructose, or fructose syrup, contains even higher concentrations of harmful HFCS, making it more of a health risk than regular HFCS. Regular HFCS (HFCS-42 or HFCS-55) contains either 42 or 55 percent fructose, while HFCS-90 contains 90 percent.
The Corn Refiners Association stated, “A third product, HFCS-90, is sometimes used in natural and ‘light’ foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness. Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label, they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup.’”
Big Food is taking advantage
Food companies are taking advantage of the name change to hide even more HFCS in their products. That box of General Mills’ Vanilla Chex cereal you’re buying may say “no high fructose corn syrup” on the front of the box, but HFCS will be hidden in the ingredients list under the name fructose, which is the most concentrated form of HFCS.
Instead of listening to the demands of the people for healthier food, Big Food corporations are successfully concealing the one ingredient consumers want to avoid. What about the FDA? They declined to recognize HFCS-90 as safe, so why aren’t they taking action?
Due to budget reasons and long product review times, the FDA decided in 1997 that food companies could review their own products and determine if they were safe or not. This self-regulatory system legally enables food companies to put profits above safety.
Even though multiple scientific studies add to a growing body of evidence that indicates HFCS consumption may result in negative health consequences when compared to natural sugar, high concentrations of HFCS are still allowed in our food chain.
“In the United States, food ingredient information is written for regulators and scientists, not for the average consumer,” said Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder of the nonprofit advocacy group Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.
The best way to protect your family is to inform yourself about hidden toxins in your food, avoid processed foods and scan food labels thoroughly. Here are a few other deceptive names of HFCS that you should look out for: maize syrup, glucose syrup, glucose/fructose syrup, tapioca syrup, fruit fructose and crystalline fructose.