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HFCS - natural or not?

03-Jul-2008

For the first of a new series to air reader views on controversial topics affecting the food industry, FoodNavigator is seeking comments on whether or not the sweetener high fructose corn syrup should be considered natural.

HFCS is a sweetener derived from corn using an enzymatic process. It is made up of either 42 or 55 per cent fructose, a simple sugar found in fruits and honey, with the remainder being mostly glucose. Sugar (sucrose) is composed of 50 per cent fructose and 50 per cent glucose. In response to an enquiry from FoodNavigator, the US Food and Drink Administration (FDA) recently examined the composition and production process of HFCS. "We would object to the use of the term 'natural' on a product containing HFCS", said the agency's Geraldine June in April. Last month, however, a US federal judge rejected a claim by Stacy Holk, who filed the suit on behalf of herself and other consumers, that the use of the term 'all natural' on Snapple drinks was deceptive because the products contained HFCS. The case was decided on preemption grounds, and the discrepancy arises from the lack of a clear definition of the term 'natural' from the FDA which leaves the matter open to different interpretations. Judge Cooper said it was up to the FDA, not the court, to define 'natural'. Meanwhile, the Corn Refiners Association of the United States recently launched an advertising and public relations campaign to address the "many myths, inaccuracies and untruths associated with the sweetener", which have been linked to obesity. This soon attracted criticism, however, as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) objected to claims that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) "has the same natural sweeteners as table sugar". CSPI's executive director Michael F Jacobson says the text is deceptive because HFCS consists almost entirely of glucose and fructose and not a single molecule of sucrose. What do you think? Please send your comments of no more than 100 words to jess.halliday 'at' decisionnews.com by July 17th, putting 'HFCS - natural or not?' in the subject line. We will publish a selection of the best responses, covering all angles of the debate, on Tuesday 22nd July. Please note that comments will be taken to be 'on the record', and the sender's name and affiliated company/organisation will be published.

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