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HFCS battle is over from a scientific standpoint, says CRA

9 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 27-Jun-2011

Manufacturers are continuing to switch out high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and promote ‘No HFCS’ products – but there’s no reason to do so from a scientific or consumer behavior standpoint, claims Dr. John White.

White is a biochemist who is a consultant for the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and president of White Technical Research, and has published widely on nutritive sweeteners.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the recent IFT expo in New Orleans, he noted that the current controversy around HFCS was sparked in 2004 when Dr Barry Popkin, along with Dr George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, published a widely read and much-quoted study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It suggested a link between obesity and the rise in HFCS consumption – but Popkin has since said that this speculation was wrong.

White said: “The battle’s over from a scientific standpoint, but consumers don’t necessarily know that. We are trying to educate manufacturers that the battle’s over and there’s no need to respond to this very small consumer base.”

In a recent poll carried out by market research organization Mintel, only four percent of those questioned mentioned HFCS when asked whether there were specific foods, beverages or ingredients they were trying to avoid or consume less often. White claims that responses to this kind of unaided question are more telling of consumer behavior than asking directly about HFCS.

“If you ask about high fructose corn syrup a lot of people say they are looking for it,” he said. “Market research says there’s a very small number of people who are concerned about high fructose corn syrup…However, they are large in internet presence.”

Microbial risk?

The food and beverage industry began to switch to HFCS as a cheaper alternative to sucrose in the 1980s. It is still an ingredient that significantly reduces cost for manufacturers – at about half the price of sugar – but White suggested that as well as increasing costs, switching to sugar could also raise sanitation issues if manufacturers are not aware of the different risks associated with sucrose and HFCS.

“An environment of monosaccharides is less hospitable to growth of microorganisms,” he said. “…Microbes grow more readily in liquid sugar than in high fructose corn syrup.”

Fructose focus

He added that although the battle over a possible link between HFCS and obesity has wound down among scientists, it has shifted to fructose and all fructose-containing ingredients.

“They have given fruits and veggies a free pass, which they should,” he said. “But I think it is misplaced because the experimentation is so highly exaggerated.”

Meanwhile, there is strong momentum behind the ‘no-HFCS’ trend. According to Datamonitor statistics, one in 50 new products launched in the United States last year carried the claim, compared to one in 500 in 2006.

“It’s a shame. Manufacturers are turning back the clock 30 or 40 years,” White said.

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9 comments (Comments are now closed)

HFCS...Highly processed and GE

From the "experts" (often scientists who work for the Corn Refiners and other profiting corn companies) to independent, non-stake holding scientists, everyone seems to leave out that one, HFCS is HIGHLY processed and DOES NOT occur in nature what so ever. Second, HFCS is (a) GE/GMO (genetically engineered/genetically modified organism).

The mounting problems being discovered from GMOs is often downplayed. Don't just believe the whitepapers and countless studies reassuring HFCS is equivalent to pure cane sugar—most of these studies are conducted by the CRA, Monsanto, and the government (FDA, USDA) itself. Corn is highly subsidized. These companies will say anything to protect their profits; consumer safety and health is a very very small part of the picture.

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Posted by Philip
11 August 2011 | 22h18

Sugars are bad

I purposely don't buy foods that have HFCS in the ingredients, MSG, hydrogenated oils, sulfites, etc. The research on some of these things are conflicting, so I'd rather play safe. Plus, foods with these ingredients are quite processed and overall not good for you. But I also try to eat less cane sugar, and eat fruit in moderation. I think sugar is sugar, but there are some that are better than others.

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Posted by Elizabeth Adao, Florida
14 July 2011 | 20h40

Does the author think we are idiots?

I cant even handle this article. This is rediculous... basically are you saying "Dont worry about it everyone chemicals are just as good for you to something organic?"... Does anyone remember te advertisements for cigarettes in the '50s that had a doctor smoking saying "your doctor is a camel guy" to get the public to think they were safe. I cant wait until more information comes out about the harm of HFCS and those scientist are going to have to eat their words====== I smell something and its not cane sugar

I have a page on Facebook that i started--- search the page "humans against high Fructose Corn Syrup"

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Posted by iam
07 July 2011 | 23h01

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