It’s not Halloween, but somebody’s already putting on a mask. More precisely, some-THING. Goodbye High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Hello CORN SUGAR. Make no mistake, these are one and the same.
So why the name change?
The answer: Marketing, of course.
HFCS has been battered in the past few years by consumers concerned about its health effects and possible link to obesity. As a result, sales of the cheap sweetener – often found in soft drinks, snacks, condiments, bakery items, and whatnot – have been in a downward spiral. Ad campaigns last year did not help. Companies began switching back from HFCS to “real sugar” (Dr. Pepper, Sara Lee, and others) in response to consumer fears.
The Corn Refiners Association hopes that this name change (which may take several years to approve through the regulatory channels) will help turn the liquid sweetener’s fortunes around.
What you need to know:
HFCS is a processed product, manufactured from surplus corn, yielding a cheap replacement to table sugar. In the early 1980′s many food manufacturers started using it instead of sugar as a cost cutting measure. That’s about the same time obesity rates started to skyrocket in the US.
So is there a direct connection?
Most scientists agree that HFCS is no better and now worse than plain sugar. The big problem is that Americans consume way too much of both. Some math:
- According to the USDA, every man woman and child in the US consumes approximately 40 pounds of sugar and 40 pounds of HFCS every year.
- That works out to 25 tsp of added sweetener per day.
- Which is 400 calories!
Whether you think HFCS is the devil or not, reducing your daily intake of all added sugars is a wise strategy for you and your family.
What to do at the supermarket:
We’ve added corn sugar to our list of sugar synonyms. When looking at product ingredient lists, watch out for any combination of these hiding in the list. Often times manufacturers divide the added sugar into several names so that it won’t appear as one of the first ingredients in the product.