Corn sugar – Could that be a nice-sounding new name to replace high fructose corn syrup? As of yesterday, the food and Drug Administration has decided “No.”
The FDA’s letter, as sent to Corn Refiners Association, rejected the proposed moniker with the argument that “sugar” is typically associated with a crystallized substance, while “syrup” (like high fructose corn syrup) is a liquid. Also, the FDA expressed concern that the renamed high fructose corn syrup could then be confused with dextrose, which is currently labeled as “corn sugar” for fructose-intolerant individuals.
The proposed name change is just part of a larger tug-of-war over “bad” and “good” sugars, especially since HFCS has earned such a bad name in the last few years. Lately the Corn Refiners Association has faced heat for its “sugar is sugar” campaign, which argues that there’s no real difference between HFCS and other sugars. Meanwhile, the Sugar Association has been working hard to keep “all-natural sugar” as the only sugar.
The larger point, though, for parents who are trying to give their kids minimally processed foods without added sugar, is best expressed by food scientist Marion Nestle: “Sugars, plural, are sugars…Everyone would be better off eating a lot less of both.”
And if you’re at the store and reading ingredients, remember that all of those different sugars add up. You may see sugar, honey, corn syrup, dextrose, and fructose listed as separate items in the ingredients, but keep in mind that those are all adding to your total sugar intake. Your best bet: Keep it real (with products like unflavored yogurt) and add your own sweeteners to taste.