"High-Fructose Corn Syrup"? Never Heard of It. | Civil Eats

“High-Fructose Corn Syrup”? Never Heard of It.

If you can’t beat ’em…confuse them. That seems to be the new motto of our good friends at the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group and manufacturing association that represents makers of high-fructose corn syrup. The AP is reporting that the group has petitioned the FDA for permission to identify high-fructose corn syrup on food packaging as–wait for it–“corn sugar.”

After all, HFCS sales are at a 20-year low. More and more, science is indicating that the body metabolizes HFCS differently from table sugar in a way that increases the risk of diabetes, liver disease, and obesity. (Yes, we consume too many sweeteners of all kinds, but as I wrote in this recent post, there is evidence that this industrially extracted combination of fructose and glucose has more health consequences than the ones that humans have been consuming for far longer.) As the Corn Refiners president observed sadly, HFCS of late “has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood.” Well, I’ll certainly agree with the first part of that statement. All the recent marketing muscle put behind HFCS seems to have been a sweetly surprising waste of money.

So, when the facts and consumer sentiment are against you, what is a poor, misunderstood oligopoly to do?

The answer: obfuscate!

Surely, in wonderfully Orwellian style, a name change will take care of matters. I don’t even know what to call this latest bit of corporate idiocy. Cornwashing?

This latest move proves the old adage that, when it comes to industrial food, the customer is always wrong, wrong, WRONG!!

It also demonstrates the fundamental bad faith under which these groups operate. As long as government policy and industrial agricultural practices ensure a vast overproduction of cheap corn, food processors will continue finding creative ways (animal feed, vehicle fuel, wallboard) to use it all. The only option that remains is the last refuge of marketing scoundrels everywhere: deception.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

And though the name change could take up to two years, the marketing push will begin immediately. Forewarned is forearmed.

Originally published on Grist

Photo: Parl via Flickr

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Tom Laskawy is a founder and executive director of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. His writing on food politics and the environment has appeared online in Grist, The American Prospect, Slate, The New York Times, and The New Republic Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Thought_Food
    Not only is the customer assumed to be wrong as you suggest, he/she is also really stupid, so they won't understand that HFCS is masquerading as "corn syrup" and/or careless so they won't read the label in the first place! I predict they will be proved wrong....

More from

Farm Bill

Featured

a bunch of tyson food products in a supermarket

These Big Food Companies Get Failing Grades on Political Spending Transparency

A new index highlights how Tyson, Cargill, Coca-Cola, and others are largely failing to disclose what they spend on policy advocacy, donations, and research, and how their lobbying shapes public health and climate regulations.

Popular

Excess Fertilizer Causes a New Challenge: Low Crop Yields During Drought

wheat harvest drought

Kelp at the Crossroads: Should Seaweed Farming Be Better Regulated?

kelp farming

On Pine Ridge Reservation, a Garden Helps Replace an 80-mile Grocery Trip

Rose Fraser harvesting potatoes in a garden on the Pine Ridge Reservation. (Photo courtesy of the Oyate Teca Project)

Farmer Co-ops Are Giving Latinx Communities Room to Grow

Delia Jovel and Latinx farmerss, members of Tierra Fertil Co-op, plant seeds and examine their crops on June 13, 2021 in Herdersonville, NC. (Photo by Juan Diego Reyes)