Tim Burrack is a farmer from northeast Iowa, who currently serves as chair of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. He is active in promoting the many uses of corn including processing for food products, livestock feed and ethanol. He's also active in defending the corn industry to consumers through partnerships with the Indy Racing League, Iowa State University, the Corn Farmers Coalition, the US Grains Council and the National Corn Growers Association.
Burrack points out that high fructose corn syrup or HFCS constitutes a 460 million bushel corn market. A 100 million bushel loss of corn use for HFCS would cost U.S. corn farmers an estimated four cents on every bushel they sell. For Iowa, the cumulative loss would be more than $87 million.
Misinformation is being peddled at the grocery store and in the news about high fructose corn syrup. As you consider sweets for your sweetheart this holiday, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board would like to reiterate that high fructose corn syrup is a natural and safe sweetener for this Valentine's Day and throughout the year.
Why are critics of corn sweeteners putting out misinformation?
Both the medical and nutrition groups, and even a few of the loudest food industry critics, believe that high fructose corn syrup or HFCS, a natural sweetener made from corn, is exactly the same nutritionally as sugar.
In terms of composition, high fructose corn syrup is nearly identical to table sugar (sucrose), which is composed of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. In fact, Arthur Frank, M.D., Medical Director at George Washington University stated that HFCS is the chemical and nutritional equivalent of table sugar (sucrose). The two substances have the same calories, the same chemical composition, and are metabolized identically.
So why peddle misinformation? For the first time in history the number of obese people outweighs, literally, the number of underweight people. The World Health Organization reports there are more than 1 billion obese adults and an estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. In the USA, according to the US Surgeon General, the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of overweight adolescents has tripled since 1980.
The talk about differences that don't exist confuses consumers
The World Health Organization notes the growing weight problems to be caused by rising incomes and higher food proportions in fats, saturated fats, and sugars coupled with less physical activity. Kris Clark, assistant director of sports nutrition at Pennsylvania State University reports "There's no one reason why we've seen the escalating rates of childhood obesity -- it all comes down to calorie balance. Kids are eating too many calories and not burning off those calories by being active. It's a reality that kids are going to have some sugar in their diets, whether that's table sugar, honey, pancake syrup or high-fructose corn syrup."
New research by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) shows that all this talk about differences that don't exist between sugar and high fructose corn syrup is confusing to consumers. Nearly half (46.9%) of consumers surveyed felt misled by food companies making high fructose corn syrup-free claims.
For example, Pizza Hut's anti-corn advertising campaign recently implied that high fructose corn syrup was not "natural" or "honest." The suggestion that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not "natural" is simply wrong. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board sent a letter and made calls to set the record straight, but this is just the beginning in the myth battle for high fructose corn syrup.
Blaming HFCS for obesity in children and adults is wrong
"The finger pointing at high fructose corn syrup for obesity in children and adults is wrong," said Burrack. "We are a nation with many luxuries including ample food. And to blame high fructose corn syrup for obesity when our sedentary lifestyles and overeating is the cause misrepresents the answer. There is no scientific justification to single out High Fructose Corn Syrup over any other sweetener. The reality is, if you are going to use a sweetener to give food it's great taste and texture, then you will consume some calories in the process. We all need to know the truth."
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup has declined since its peak in 1999. The USDA estimates per capita sugar consumption in 2008 was 47.2 lbs per year and 37.8 lbs per year for high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup is scientifically proven to be safe
As high fructose corn syrup use increased in the United States, it replaced sugar in various foods and beverages on a nearly one-for-one basis, as the accompanying chart illustrates. Yet because sugar and high fructose corn syrup share a common composition, the ratio of fructose-to-glucose in the diet has remained relatively unchanged over time. This means that sugars in the foods and beverages we consume is nearly the same today as it was 30 years ago, before high fructose corn syrup was introduced.
"As a corn grower, I know that what I am producing is safe and nutritionally the same as sugar," says Burrack. "It has been scientifically proven to be safe and natural, it has the general properties of sugar, and the truth that should be peddled to consumers is their ability to control their calorie intake and their appetite for misinformation."
For more information on high fructose corn syrup, visit www.iowacorn.org.