Talking points for High Fructose Corn Syrup

Telling Your Story

High fructose corn syrup is nearly identical in composition to table sugar

Published on: May 9, 2013

High Fructose Corn Syrup has been widely debated in the public the past several years.  It's now blamed for causing all sorts of health problems and obesity.  So what is the deal with HFCS? As a farmer you need to know how to discuss this topic when it surfaces.

HFCS is generally found in two forms: HFCS 42 or HFCS 55.  HFCS 42 is 42% fructose and HFCS 55 is 55% fructose.  In comparison, table sugar and honey are 50%, apple juice is 65%, and agave is over 80% fructose.  HFCS 55 is used in soft drinks.  HFCS 42 is used in most other foods that list HFCS as an ingredient, such as bread or salad dressing.  Many fruits and vegetables' fructose levels are between 42 and 55% fructose. 

HFCS isn't just used as a sweetener. Oftentimes it has other uses in food.  Some of the other uses include:  Maintains freshness, promotes browning, enhances flavors, retains moisture, maintains consistent flavors, and keeps ingredients evenly mixed.  Think about how long a loaf of bread can sit on your counter without getting moldy.  These things are benefits in our fast-paced society.

So let's take a look at the other side of the coin – calorie consumption.  Today, we eat 458 more calories per day compared to 1970 (Source: Economic Research Service). That's about 20% more calories than 40 years ago! 

The Best Food Facts and Sweet Surprise websites offer some good information on HFCS.

Just because a label might say, "no HFCS" doesn't necessarily mean there isn't any sugar. Look at the label for another sugar source.  Think about the recipes that you make at home; for example, many bread recipes call for a sweetener.

My personal opinion is that our culture tends to eat a lot of treats that are often heavy in sugar.  We like to couple that with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.  I wonder what would happen if, as a society, we ate fewer treats and exercised more?

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