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Medicine Science

High Fructose Corn Syrup To Get a Makeover 646

Posted by samzenpus
from the same-great-taste dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With its sweetener linked to obesity, some cancers and diabetes, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) doesn't want you to think 'fructose' when you see high fructose corn syrup in your soda, ketchup or pickles. Instead, the AP reports, the CRA submitted an application to the FDA, hoping to change the name of their top-selling product to 'corn sugar.'"
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High Fructose Corn Syrup To Get a Makeover

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  • What the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @06:55PM (#33594438)

    "With its sweetener linked to obesity, some cancers and diabetes, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) doesn't want you to think 'fructose' when you see high fructose corn syrup in your soda, ketchup or pickles. Instead, the AP reports, the CRA submitted an application to the FDA, hoping to change the name of their top-selling product to 'corn sugar.'"

    What's in a name? High-fructose corn syrup by any other name would taste as sweet ... and still make your cancer cells multiply.

    And here thought that fraud and false advertising was illegal in this country. If the Feds go for this then they're not doing their jobs.

  • Um, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jra (5600) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:00PM (#33594474)

    When manufacturers start *printing "No HFCS!" on packaging*, your ship has pretty much sailed, folks.

  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quantumghost (1052586) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:00PM (#33594478) Journal
    ...can we start calling cigarettes, "All natural inhaled plant extracts"?
  • by peacefinder (469349) <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:01PM (#33594490) Journal

    What's in a name? that which we call an industrial chemical
    By any other name would taste as sweet;
    So HFCS would, were it not HFCS call'd,
    Retain that cloying mouthfeel which it owes
    Without that title. HFCS, doff thy name;
    And for that name, which is no part of thee,
    Take all my pancreas.

  • Re:Evil stuff (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:10PM (#33594554)

    Corn lobbyists.

  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nschubach (922175) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:11PM (#33594570) Journal

    Hand rolled cigars. They are still bad for you.

  • Re:Evil stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dynedain (141758) <slashdot2@@@anthonymclin...com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:14PM (#33594592) Homepage

    Massive subsidies for corn farming (also in the form of biofuel kickbacks) combined with tariffs on imported sugar to protect certain agricultural sectors make corn syrup an incredibly inexpensive and profitable sweetening agent.

    This is the big reason why most sodas in the US use corn syrup whereas foreign recipes usually rely on ordinary sugar.

    In short, no politician wants to risk losing support in the midwest or the southeast. Advocating reform on either of these policies is political suicide in those regions.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:16PM (#33594618) Journal
    If you read the article, you have quotes like this:

    Too much sugar of any kind not only adds pounds, but is also a key culprit in diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

    And

    Tumor cells thrive on sugar

    In other words, while one type of sugar may be slightly worse than the other (I have no reason to doubt the study), it's like arguing whether it's worse to get stabbed or shot. Either one is bad.

  • by Dracos (107777) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:17PM (#33594626)

    Still makes us all fat.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by treeves (963993) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:32PM (#33594774) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows what it is. Would you say that coconut *milk* and peanut *butter* are misnomers as well?
  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:33PM (#33594790) Homepage

    Evaporated cane syrup is not the same as sugar. It's not cooked and doesn't have the molasses spun out. The name is fairly descriptive. It could be argued that evaporated sugarcane syrup might be even clearer, but there doesn't appear to be an intent to deceive.

    On the other hand, renaming HFCS which is descriptive and is well known by consumers to some other name seems more deceptive in intent. It's fairly clear the intent is to create confusion so that people consume something they have consciously decided to avoid. If they want to come up with a substantially different product and call that corn sugar, that would be another matter.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:34PM (#33594808) Homepage

    I guess you're not a big fan of fresh fruits then?

  • Re:Evil stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mikkeles (698461) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:36PM (#33594826)

    Well, the candidates could do what politicians do best: lie through their teeth. Then eliminate the tariffs as would be appropriate for a country seeking to participate in the GLOBAL ECONOMY .

  • Re:In other news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:39PM (#33594868)

    Sucrose is not good for you, the reason HFCS gets all the attention because fructose is noticeably worse. Sugar refiners deserve to have their names dragged through the mud almost as much as corn refiners have been.

    Frankly, I think the CRA should be sued for attempting to defraud the American public by selling a product known to be harmful under a new name for the sole purpose of deceiving said public into buying a product they do not wish to buy.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:42PM (#33594908)
    People work at the FDA for the specific purpose of doing the industry favors that will later be repaid as cushy high paying jobs when they retire from government. The FDA will trip over themselves trying to beat each other to signing it first.
  • Re:Evil stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:42PM (#33594910) Homepage Journal

    Can you explain your assertion that HFCS is "evil"?

    As I've stated elsewhere [slashdot.org] in this story, HFCS is only 10% more "evil" than table sugar, and that's if we presuppose that fructose is evil. (You know, fructose, the principal form of sugar found in those well-known health-wreckers, apples.)

    I'm not saying that you're wrong, by any means. But, while I hear that HFCS is bad all the time, I've never heard any sort of convincing explanation how it's worse than sucrose.

    Corn subsidies, on the other hand . . .

    -Peter

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:49PM (#33594962) Journal

    The problem is, regular corn syrup more rightfully deserves the name "corn sugar". However, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are completely different animals.

    Taking the word "fructose" out suggests that HFCS is somehow a natural sugar obtained from corn, then processed into granular form, much as sugar is formed by filtering out everything but the sucrose from sugar cane syrup and leaving the remaining granular sucrose. Such an implication would be an outright deception. Corn syrup, as it comes out of the plant, does not contain significant amounts of fructose. It is basically glucose syrup. High fructose corn syrup, by contrast, is corn syrup in which much of the glucose has been enzymatically converted into fructose. It resembles corn syrup about as closely as a plastic toy resembles its original form after you soak it in gasoline for a few hours.

    Having the word "fructose" in the name of this ingredient is key to explaining how this differs from corn syrup. Eliminating the word "fructose" would have the potential to cause significant confusion, and any such proposal should be soundly rejected. I'd be okay with them calling it "high fructose corn sugar" if they would prefer, or maybe even "fructose-enhanced corn sugar", but if they think they can get away with concealing fructose as an ingredient, they have another thing coming. Either way, you know something is very wrong when an industry attempts to conceal its activities through name changes. That's tantamount to admitting guilt.

  • Dear Neckbeards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anarkhos (209172) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:53PM (#33594994)

    It's not the HFCS, it's your ass, in that chair, 12 hours a day

  • Re:Ask a doctor... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quantumghost (1052586) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:54PM (#33595004) Journal
    Well....let's see from your study, n=1 and the outcome was 100%. The p value? Probably about 1.

    What you cite is "anecdotal evidence" and what works for you, may not work for anyone else...and in fact, you probably ended up removing a number of food sources that contribute to heartburn such as caffeine.

    The reason your physicians don't see to care is that they can't generalize the information....so they would be remiss to pass this information on.

    Someone could set up a project to research this... but that takes time and money...so who would pay for the study? The corn growers? The makers of proton-pump inhibitors? Neither one cares, and would actually discourage such a study as it would hurt their bottom-line...so the federal government might fund it...but then there are those lovely folk known as lobbyists...I'm sure they would love to push for funding for said research....

    Guess I'd have to say, it's just not a hot-button issue.

    And for the record, I'm a physician. (But certainly not a primary care physician).

    --- From WebMD: (http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/understanding-heartburn-basics)

    What Causes It?

    The basic cause of heartburn is an underactive lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, that doesn't tighten as it should. Two excesses often contribute to this problem: too much food in the stomach (overeating) or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity or pregnancy). Certain foods commonly relax the LES, including tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, caffeinated products, and peppermint. Dishes high in fats and oils (animal or vegetable) often lead to heartburn, as do certain medications. Stress increases acid production and can cause heartburn. And smoking, which relaxes the LES and stimulates stomach acid, is a major contributor.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:54PM (#33595014)

    Maybe that's because the corn syrup soda tastes better? Even if it were possible to have cravings for soda, that doesn't mean cancer is growing in you.

    You must not have been around before the switch to corn syrup. Coca Cola was awesome back then.

    Secondly, cancer is growing in all of us, all the time. Out of the trillions of cells that comprise the human body, some number of them are going to be malfunctioning at any given time. The reason we don't all die of tumors shortly after birth is because the immune system identifies them and eliminates them.

    Any food product which has the capacity to make cancer cells divide even more quickly than they already do (which, according to that study I linked, is an attribute of corn syrup but not regular sugar) is certainly worth avoiding.

  • by Xtravar (725372) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:55PM (#33595020) Homepage Journal

    Tortured Baby Cow Parmesan just doesn't have the same ring to it. But I'm sure it'd be equally as delicious.

  • Re:newspeak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dakameleon (1126377) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:04PM (#33595098)

    Or doubleplusgood sugar?

  • by Trip6 (1184883) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:10PM (#33595160)

    The government is paying farmers to make a product that is killing the populace. And they are borrowing the money from China to do it. What's wrong with THIS picture?

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:19PM (#33595236)

    Corn-Sugar is already in use, it means dextrose. Ask anyone who homebrews.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:20PM (#33595240) Homepage Journal

    Ah-ha! You found me out!

    Oh, wait, no you didn't. Sucrose [wikipedia.org] is not an alternative to fructose and glucose, it is a combination of them. From the linked article:

    In sucrose, the component glucose and fructose are linked via an ether bond between C1 on the glucosyl subunit and C2 on the fructosyl unit. The bond is called a glycosidic linkage.

    The rest of your post is 99% pure nonsense. Transfats are chemically altered forms of vegetable oil. It isn't the processing, per se, it is -- objectively, demonstrably, and verifiably -- the altered chemical composition that causes the deleterious effects to health.

    As for fructose being natural, this is quite irrelevant. All objections to HFCS that I've heard that even begin to be credible cite processing of fructose in the liver as origin of the supposed problem. If fructose is perfectly safe, then HFCS is 10% BETTER than sucrose, since it contains that much less glucose, the only other molecule found in either compound. But that can't be right, either, since (by your logic) glucose occurs in nature and, (more convincingly) it's the only form of energy the body can directly use.

    To address the 1% of your post that isn't twaddle, it seems to me that there is one possible way that HFCS can cause appetite to malfunction. I suggested that sucrose and HFCS are practically identical from a metabolic point of view by the time they hit the bloodstream, to which you made no counter-argument. But, to the extent that appetite is tied to the interaction of the molecules with the body before digestion -- in the mouth, or even in the stomach -- it is possible that some "evil" lurks. But I'm unconvinced.

    I'm sorry if I've been flippant in this post. While I do sincerely want correction where I'm wrong, I am quite disinterested in poorly researched, poorly thought-out, and flatly wrong-on-their-face counter-arguments.

    -Peter

  • by geoffrobinson (109879) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:30PM (#33595326) Homepage

    It's the sugar lobby who caused this whole mess.

    I believe Coke was one of the first to make the switch. In a free market, sugar would be much cheaper and that's what would be used.

    I'm also pretty sure this causes problems for candy and other food manufacturers. It makes their products more expensive.

  • by larry bagina (561269) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @08:58PM (#33595548) Journal
    A lot of candy manufacturers have moved out of the US, relocating to Canada or Mexico where they have access to cheap sugar. I'll bet the jobs lost from sugar tariffs exceeds the jobs saved (or "touched", as it's now measured) by sugar tariffs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:08PM (#33595616)

    This is a repost of a repost, but here's an enlightening presentation on the pathways involved in fructose metabolism by an endocrinologist at UCSF:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM [youtube.com]

    It's ~1h30m long, but you can skip ahead to about 42:00 for the interesting part.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:28PM (#33595752) Homepage

    Bottom line is, how about we all quit complaining about what it is they put in food, and just choose what you eat carefully.

    If they will kindly not hide what they put in the food (including the use of newspeak), we can make a rational informed decision about what and how much to eat.

  • by flanders123 (871781) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:31PM (#33595776)
    You are forgetting about the other "great" corn product: Ethanol. Here we have a fuel that takes 29 percent [cbsnews.com] more fossil fuel energy to produce than the end product generates. Do you think the harvesters and grain trucks run on ethanol?

    Also, it doesn't make sense for consumers. My family rents land to farmers. All have ethanol-compatible pickups, but won't fill up with ethanol. Why? Because the mileage they get is so horrible, that the non-competitive price doesn't make sense. But they love the corn prices and subsities though!

    What a joke.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:51PM (#33595910)

    Believe it or not people are not that stupid when it comes to labels. You could call it unicorn spit and after a lag period the same baggage and public reaction will eventually be restored.

    It happened with trans fats where manufacturers would just adjust the serving size such that each serving contained less than .5 grams just to get away with legally claiming their product contained 0g trans fat. How the govt allowed such rank nonsense to occur in the first place is beyond comphrension.. At the end of the day it didn't matter.

    The end result was that the "*0g trans fat" advertisement became meaningless and people started looking for the word "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients to make their purchasing decision.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:55PM (#33595926) Homepage
    O, be some other name!
    What's in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
  • Re:Evil stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @09:58PM (#33595946)

    your cane sugar is cheaper than our hfcs because we have tariffs on the sugar and you don't. then the price of hfcs can be raised above what the market would otherwise pay for it, if sugar weren't being propped up. It's a friggin' cabal is what it is.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sribe (304414) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:42PM (#33596182)

    What's in a name? High-fructose corn syrup by any other name would taste as sweet ... and still make your cancer cells multiply.

    All-natural agave syrup anyone??? Seriously, it boggles the mind that people who are suspicious of high-fructose syrup refined from corn embrace the new fad, high-fructose syrup refined from cactus, because some marketer slapped a "natural" label on it...

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reziac (43301) * on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:08PM (#33596314) Homepage Journal

    "...in exactly the same way that baking soda (NaHCO3) is 50% lye (NaOH)"

    Oh man, you made me spit carbonated lye and medium fructose bee barf all over my monitor :D

    Based on the chemistry expertise of the average poster, I think it's time to resurrect the campaign against DHMO. Except this time, rather than trying to convince people of its toxicity in its natural state, we should concentrate on the dangerously explosive traits of uncontrolled hydrogen, once it's been chemically separated from the DHMO. ;)

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:23PM (#33596382)

    If they will kindly not hide what they put in the food (including the use of newspeak), we can make a rational informed decision about what and how much to eat.

    But then you might make the rational informed decision to not eat high fructose corn syrup, or "corn sugar" or whatever it's called, which would affect the bottom lines of corn producers. Since they care more about their bottom line than your health or life, they have made the rational informed decision of trying to hide the fact that foods which include said semi-poison include it.

    Basically, if you want businesses to play nice, you have to use government and the law to force them.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:25PM (#33596392) Homepage Journal

    Sometime in the future, the corn syrup industry (which includes the entire beverage industry, and much of the food industry) is going to see revealed the evidence that its scientists and execs all knew that their corn syrup products were increasing people's cancer, diabetes and other disease rates, and was habit forming. Even as they worked to cover up those evil facts with cheerful, healthy marketing. Exactly like the tobacco industry. Then there'll be hell to pay.

  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:30PM (#33596432) Homepage

    What I wonder is if "Universal Health Care" (which only provides for 94% of the country) would even be necessary if we didn't have corn subsidies which have made so many people obese and unhealthy. Seems like we are paying twice for a reality that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:38PM (#33596492)

    I doubt bees use the same refining process that is used to produce most HFCS.

    Can you link to this decline in HFCS use?

  • Re:newspeak (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @01:46AM (#33596976)

    HCFS is NOT the same as sucrose, contrary to anything the industry has said on the subject. It's two monosaccarides instead of a disaccaride just for starters- it metabolizes completely differently with differing metabolic effects on you.

    Sorry, but this is unmitigated bullshit. The disaccharide sucrose is broken down into fructose and glucose in the stomach within minutes of ingestion, and your small intestine can't tell the difference between sucrose and HFCS.

    There is no difference in how they are metabolized. The only difference is that when ingesting HFCS, some glycoside hydrolase in your stomach goes unused. Thanks for playing, have a nice day!

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @02:40AM (#33597192)

    I live in America too. I do this really crazy thing called "looking at the list of ingredients" when I buy food at the supermarket. If "everything" has HFCS in it where you live, then you must live in a really shitty place. I haven't consumed HFCS in years.

  • by KozmoStevnNaut (630146) <henrikstevn&gmail,com> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @02:54AM (#33597248)

    In the US, all of the products you mentioned are usually loaded with added sugar, most likely HFCS. You can thank the corn lobby for that.

    In other parts of the world, whole wheat bread is made without sugar, orange juice has no added sugar and can actually be deliciously slightly sour and outmeal contains nothing but whole oats, possibly steamed and rolled.

    Added sugars of all kinds are problematic, but HFCS is the worst.

  • Re:newspeak (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <giles DOT jones AT zen DOT co DOT uk> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @04:45AM (#33597570)

    They started using Fructose as it was a little better for diabetics to process over the usual glucose it replaced.

    But the problem is that Fructose is only metabolised by the liver and so it can cause liver damage.

    Every cell in your body can metabolise glucose.

  • by Datamonstar (845886) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:14AM (#33597666)
    Exactly. My wife is from Mexico and she and her brother often complain about how damned sweet everything in the US has to be. The same trend follows with people from other countries. They don't use it in products from overseas for a reason. It tastes and behaves completely different from real sugar. I can't for the life of me think of why it's used in damn near everything, even products that are not traditionally though of as "sweet" other than it being so cheap in comparison to real sugar.
  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 16, 2010 @08:09AM (#33598560) Homepage Journal

    Well, they changed Swine Flu to H1N1, but that did have a legitimate purpose since people incorrectly thought you got swine flu from eating pork.

    Changing "rapeseed" to "canola" helped it -- but rapeseed didn't have any negative connotations like HFCS does except for its name. Changing HFCS' name won't help it at all. HCFC isn't disliked because of its name, like Swine Flu or rapeseed. It's disliked because it's unhealthy.

    As to fraud and false advertising, it would be a stretch to call changing "corn syrup" to "corn sugar" fraud, because HFCS is sugar. As to false advertising, IINM the way false advertising laws work in the US is if your competitor us using false advertising you can sue him, but his customers can't unless they can prove fraud.

    I think the whole thing is laughable. Changing the name won't change anything. I'm constantly amazed and bemused and the stupidity of business and government.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:39AM (#33599538)

    Unfortunately you need to study organic chemistry to understand how it really happens - your applying 10th grade chem to a problem that is much more complex.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    HFCS breaks down *very* differently in the liver and is much worse for you.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by randomencounter (653994) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @09:51AM (#33599672)

    Don't underestimate the importance of the decomposition reactions.

    HFCS is pre-digested by the manufacturing process, less energy is required to get it to your cells in a usable form so more energy is available to your body to use.

    Not all calories are created equal.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ncc74656 (45571) * <scott@alfter.us> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @11:46AM (#33601214) Homepage Journal

    A quick read of the wikipedia article describing the industrial process used to make HFCS describes such lovely terms as:

    "Cornstarch is treated with alpha-amylase..."

    If that bothers you, I hope you don't drink beer (or other alcoholic beverages produced from grain). Alpha amylase is an enzyme present in barley (and in some other grains, but the concentration is highest in barley) that breaks down starch into sugar. It's formed during germination, which happens either when the seed is planted in the ground or when it's malted for brewing or other alcohol production. Read this [bjcp.org] for more details...look under "Starch Conversion."

    Another place you'll find alpha amylase is in your mouth. Chew on a piece of bread for a bit. After a few seconds, it picks up a somewhat sweet taste. Alpha amylase in saliva is responsible for that effect.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @11:58AM (#33601390)

    There has been a growing awareness of the dangers of Aspartame

    [citation needed]

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