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Fructose is the New High Fructose Corn Syrup: Big Food Will Always Find a Loophole

The evidence is mounting that there are contradictions to the labeling, legal use, and definition of fructose. You would think it would be good news to see “No high fructose corn syrup” in big print on the front of a cereal box. Surprisingly, big food industries are not getting pressure from the FDA to remove high fructose corn syrup. No, it is the public gaining awareness of the risks associated with highly processed foods.

What you will see listed in the ingredients instead of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is fructose. So the public may think fructose…ahhh yes…from fruit. No, it is nothing like the form found in fruit.

It is an even more processed form of HFCS also known as HFCS-90 because it is 90% fructose and 10% glucose. Compare this to regular HFCS which is 42% or 55% fructose.

Fructose the New High Fructose Corn Syrup

That is why it is so important to get involved in the food system, read labels, and get the facts about where your food comes from because big food industries are using manipulative marketing tactics that are deceiving the public.

How exactly are they doing this? You don’t have to go very far to find this information. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) gives details on their website:

“Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label, they will state “fructose” or “fructose syrup.”

The CRA also states that HFCS is natural because it comes from corn and there are no artificial ingredients added to the process.

This wasn’t the CRA’s first choice for new marketing tactics. Back in 2010, they petitioned the FDA to change the name of HFCS to “corn sugar” because they thought that the public was being misinformed about the health standards of HFCS. The FDA denied the request because corn sugar is not like the highly processed HFCS.

“Consequently, the use of the term “corn sugar” for HFCS would suggest that HFCS is a solid, dried, and crystallized sweetener obtained from corn. Instead, HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose.”

Regular corn syrup is 100% glucose and the enzymatic process performed in a lab turns some of the glucose into fructose. This is where you get 42% HFCS. It can be processed even more to get 90% fructose which is added back to the HFCS-42 to get HFCS-55. Yet, the FDA allows the CFA to call all forms of HFCS “natural” when the chemical composition of corn is altered in a lab that starts off containing absolutely no fructose in it what so ever.

Let’s look at more contradictions.

There are some reports that HFCS got a name change to a new version of HFCS and that fructose is not even legal for commercial use.

Let’s start with the name change, or did the CRA just find a loophole?

Fructose has been in commercial use for 20 years as stated on under Facts about Fructose. You can buy crystallized fructose at Walmart and Amazon under the brand name 50 Fifty Foods. The CRA states that crystallized fructose is used in presweetened cereals and in instant beverages. Crystallized fructose is made by the same process as HFCS-90 from corn or it can be obtained from cane sugar by separating out the fructose. also states that people mistakenly use the words HFCS and fructose interchangeably and that they are not the same thing because HFCS is balanced with glucose, and fructose is just pure fructose.

More questions come from the legal use of fructose. Under the heading Safety on it states:

“Sucrose and HFCS have long been considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). As a significant component of these two sweeteners, the safety of fructose has been thoroughly documented in several scientific reviews performed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other expert panels.” also referred to the 1996 GRAS amendment for HFCS in this Calorie Control Response to Underwood, yet in these two references, there is  no clear mention of “fructose” under GRAS. But it’s not the same thing as HFCS, right?  It also states that HFCS-90 is not used in an “appreciable quantity” and is used by the food industry for specific functional reasons. Yet, it is sold in crystalized form in stores.

Citizens for Health petitioned the FDA to tell manufactures to label the percentages in HFCS and that HFCS-90 is not even included in GRAS under the 1996 GRAS amendment for HFCS.

“The HFCS-90 is not included in this rulemaking because the agency does not have adequate information to assess the safety of residual levels of the processing materials in the final product. Moreover, FDA did not include HFCS-90 in the agency’s exposure estimate for HFCS, even though the agency was aware of minor uses of HFCS-90 as an ingredient in low-calorie foods. …Thus, additional data on the effects of fructose consumption that is not balanced with glucose consumption would be needed to ensure that this product is safe. 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 Sec. 170.35.”

A new report from the Mayo Clinic challenges the current dietary food guidelines of added sugar, added fructose in particular and its correlation with type 2 diabetes:

Approximately 75% of all packaged food and beverages contain added sugar in the U.S.

A peach has 1% fructose by weight compared to HFCS that contains 50% fructose.

The fructose in whole fruits and vegetables is accompanied by fiber, water, and antioxidants that may buffer the sugar load.

Current dietary guidelines for Americans allow for up to 25% of calories to come from added sugars, but the World Health Organization suggests that only 10% added sugar come from total calorie intake per day.

high fructose syrup is labeled frutose

Still on, fructose is being introduced to a whole new set of foods, such as shelf-stable nutrition bars, soft moist cookies, frozen juice concentrates and energy-reduced products. Indeed you will see fructose being used more and more in food products including in Nature Valley Granola bars, Special K cereal bars, Yoplait greek yogurt,  Dannon Activia probiotic yogurt, and of course Chex cereal (chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon flavors). I even found it in the Private Selection label for the fresh baked in house cookies. Yes, don’t let fresh baked fool you.

Unfortunately, toxic chemicals are also allowed for commercial use before sufficient studies are performed.

If you would like to know where your food comes from and would like to become a consumer advocate, sign the Citizens for Health amended petition here that asks the FDA for clear labeling to the percents of HFCS and other sugars.

Unprocess your way to clean eating! Check out the Real Food Recipes category for more inspiration.



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