This past Wednesday there was a great victory in the world of real food and nutrition labeling: the FDA denied the Corn Refiner’s Association’s request to rename high fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar” on food labels. The application for a name change was submitted in 2010 due to the bad press that high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, has received in recent years. HFCS is a highly processed sweetener made from corn. The reason it is so predominant in the food supply is that government subsidies (your taxes dollars) encourages the overproduction of corn, making it prevalent and cheap at the market place. This corn is then used to feed livestock that are not designed to eat it and altered to be made into various “ingredients” found in processed food. Oh, and it’s GMO to boot.
No matter what your thoughts are on the safety of high fructose corn syrup (I never eat the stuff), this goes beyond its safety. The larger issue I see here is the consumer’s right to know what is in the food they are eating. Ultimately, the name change was designed to confuse and deceive consumers by labeling the offensive ingredient as something that seems much more wholesome. If the name change had gone through, unaware consumers would have essentially had some of their power taken away in the market place. In a world where food and nutrition are often far more confusing that they should be, the last thing we need is a move such as this one.
Beyond that, it’s still true that too much sugar in any form is a problem and processed foods should be limited. Stick to fresh, whole foods and you will be much better off.
How do you feel about the attempt to relabel HFCS as “corn sugar?” Sound off in the comments below.