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Corn Refiners’ Ad Campaign Called Deceptive*

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

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The Corn Refiners Association’s slick new advertising is deceptive in stating that high-fructose corn syrup “has the same natural sweeteners as table sugar.” HFCS consists almost entirely of glucose and fructose, but not a single molecule of sucrose. Sugar is 100 percent sucrose. It is true that adding a water molecule to sucrose and splitting it in half yields one molecule each of glucose and fructose—but that is not the same as saying that HFCS and sugar contain the same sweeteners.

It is also deceptive to imply that HFCS is natural. HFCS starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose (and some short polymers of glucose). Another enzyme is then used to convert varying fractions of glucose into fructose. High fructose corn syrup just doesn’t exist in nature.

That said, the special harmfulness of HFCS has become one of those urban myths that sounds right, but is basically wrong. Nutritionally, HFCS and sucrose may be identical, but that’s no excuse for this deceptive advertising campaign.

* Subsequent ads from the Corn Refiners Association used less deceptive language to describe high-fructose corn syrup. Though made from corn starch and nutritionally equal to table sugar/sucrose, HFCS does not occur in nature and should be considered an artificial ingredient. 

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Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).