Monday, June 21, 2010


Proponents of High Fructose Corn Syrup often do not mention the different types of HFCS that exist, differing in terms of the ratio of fructose to glucose. (I have already made a post about the fact that there are different types; in this post i delve into HFCS-90 specifically.)

Consumers of products containing HFCS never know which type HFCS they are consuming. Are they consuming HFCS that has more fructose than cane sugar, or not? When HFCS-proponents address the different ratios, they are quick to point out that most American manufactured goods contain either HFCS-42 or HFCS-55; so even if it's the 55% fructose variety, it's still barely more fructose than is found in cane sugar. Ok, i know there are medical professionals who say that extra 5% matters, but I am not a trained professional in that area, so who am I to judge?

(source for the slide, Dr G. Harvey Anderson, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in Beverages: Impact on Appetite & Food Intake Reviewing The Science, Understanding the Controversies, Sponsored by the Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness of the Coca Cola Company)

Just for good measure, here's a quote from the Corn Refiners Association Sweet Surprise website that suggests the same basic break-down (source)
high fructose corn syrup has either 42 % or 55% fructose, with the remaining sugars being primarily glucose.

What about HFCS-90? Why don't they mention that form of HFCS?

Oh, well rest assured, according to Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain't, we have nothing to worry about:
Mention of HFCS with higher fructose content (ie, HFCS-80 or HFCS-90) is occasionally seen in the literature, but these products are highly specialized and are manufactured infrequently and in insignificant amounts.
Here's the full paragraph: 

John S. White, Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain'tAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 88, No. 6, 1716S-1721S, Dec 2008

So, then why are there so many references to HFCS-90 in pro-HFCS trade literature?

Here are some examples (there are a multitude; these are representative):

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)—A corn sweetener derived from the wet milling of corn. Cornstarch is converted to a syrup that is nearly all dextrose. Enzymes isomerize the dextrose to produce a 42 percent fructose syrup called HFCS-42. By passing HFCS-42 through an ion-exchange column that retains fructose, corn refiners draw off 90 percent HFCS and blend it with HFCS-42 to make a third syrup, HFCS-55. HFCS is found in numerous foods and beverages on the grocery store shelves. HFCS-90 is used in natural and "light" foods in which very little is needed to provide sweetness. (ERS, USDA). Total fiber is the sum of dietary fiber and functional fiber.
(Source: Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans)

Supersweet HFCS-90 is used in natural and "light" foods where very little is needed to provide sweetness.
(Source:  ERS/USDA, High-Fructose Corn Syrup Production and Prices)

How about good ol' ADM?

And then there are some industry studies that reference the use of HFCS-90 in:
And we also have a reference from Corn Products International, excerpted from "Product Overview"
We also produce HFCS-90, used in specialty and low-calorie foods
So, why doesn't the Corn Refiners Association mention HFCS-90?

Well, actually they do, but you have to look for it:

Supersweet 90-HFCS is valued in natural and "light" foods, where very little is needed to provide sweetness.
(source: Corn Sweeteners, 2008)

Interesting, isn't it, that it's the same wording as the two above quotes from the USDA?  It's just simply puzzling...

Oh, what's also interesting is that the FDA explicitly stated that it's 1996 designation of HFCS as GRAS does not apply to HFCS-90.

Because HFCS–90 has not been included in this rulemaking, consideration of the GRAS status of this substance will need to proceed through the petition process in accordance with § 170.35.
Why was HFCS-90 not submitted for GRAS consideration? 
In the above-quoted ruling, the FDA voiced concern "because HFCS-90 does not contain approximately equimolar amounts of glucose and fructose."  So, are we to conclude that HFCS-90 is truly hardly ever used except for in the case of the production of HFCS-55? (note: i find it unusual that they use it to produce HFCS-55...)  If it is truly hardly ever used, then why are there so many references to it being in this and that kind of product?

It just seems odd that we as consumers can't verify which HFCS is contained in manufactured food goods.  Since HFCS-90 is clearly being used in some frozen desserts, yogurts, condiments, diet products, and baked goods, why can't we as consumers have more information provided to us with respect to which HFCS we're eating (unless we avoid it altogether...)?

It seems a bit disingenuous that the Corn Refiners and the rest of the King Corn gang are always citing FDA rulings and saying HFCS is safe and GRAS and all that good stuff, with out providing consumers more information about which HFCS variety is in what products.  it's almost as though they're trying to cover up the fact that there's not just one HFCS....

1 comment:

  1. You say, "It seems a bit disengenuous of the corn refiners association..." A bit disengenuous? When your job in life is to sell low level poison to the population, with a concentration on children, things like that happen from time to time.