High Fructose Corn Syrup mob tries to take down our own Doug Aamoth

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Our writer Doug Aamoth is currently in protective custody after the High Fructose Corn Syrup Council sent an email to us informing us of “incorrect” “facts” about “deadly” and “obesity-causing” high fructose corn syrup.

Their beef? He wrote:

If you drink a fair amount of soda, carbonated water, tonic, and the like, then the Home Soda Maker is a god-send. It’ll save you from running to the store constantly and you’ll be creating far less waste, if that’s important to you. Plus, the non-diet soda flavors are made without high fructose corn syrup and the diet flavors are made with Splenda instead of aspartame. So if you don’t want to quit drinking soda cold turkey, this machine provides a relatively reasonable alternative.

That’s right. He didn’t directly disparage the syrup in any way, instead suggesting its less refined cousins would be doing the hard job of making things sweet.

The letter follows in its entirety and our official position at CrunchGear regarding corn syrups of all types are that they make great props for kids shows (see Nickelodeon v. Kids Who Say “I Don’t Know”) and improve racy exotic dance numbers. They are, however, not good to eat.

The best thing? The email came from corn.org. I imagine their sysadmin is huge from all the corn syrup he or she ingests.

Mr. Doug Aamoth
Reporter
CrunchGear.com

Dear Mr. Aamoth:

We read the October 16 article “Review: Penguin Home Soda Maker,” with interest. Unfortunately, the suggestion that high fructose corn syrup is an unhealthy ingredient is misleading. We would like to provide you with science-based information on this safe sweetener and be a reference for you for future articles.

Scientific information, sourced from peer-reviewed journal articles that studied high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) specifically, as well as FDA and the USDA, can be found in the following brochure that provides fully cited answers to frequently asked questions about high fructose corn syrup http://www.hfcsfacts.com/images/pdf/HFCSBrochure.pdf. Links for many of the studies noted in the brochure can be found at http://www.HFCSfacts.com/Related_Links.html.

High fructose corn syrup, sugar, and several fruit juices are all nutritionally the same.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently concluded that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.” (American Medical Association. June 17, 2008. Press Release: AMA finds high fructose syrup unlikely to be more harmful to health than other caloric sweeteners.)

Dr. Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of “What to Eat” and “Food Politics” told the Spokesman Review “HFCS is glucose and fructose separated. Table sugar is glucose and fructose stuck together, but quickly separated by digestive enzymes. … The body can hardly tell them apart.” (Lamberson C. January 2, 2008. “High-fructose corn syrup may be the next target” Spokesman Review.)

Many studies claim that the body processes high fructose corn syrup differently than other sugars due to the fructose content. Conclusions from these studies cannot be extrapolated to high fructose corn syrup. That is because the studies looked at the effects of fructose independently.

Like sugar, honey and some fruit juices, high fructose corn syrup contains almost equal portions of fructose and glucose. As noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996, “the saccharide composition (glucose to fructose ratio) of HFCS is approximately the same as that of honey, invert sugar and the disaccharide sucrose (or table sugar).” (61 Fed. Reg. 43447 (August 23, 1996), 21 C.F.R. 184.1866. Direct food substances affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe; High Fructose Corn Syrup – Final Rule.)

The absence of glucose makes pure fructose fundamentally different from high fructose corn syrup. This is because glucose has been shown to have a tempering effect on specific metabolic effects of fructose. Once the combination of glucose and fructose found in high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are absorbed into the blood stream, the two types of sweetener appear to be metabolized similarly using well-characterized metabolic pathways.

A considerable body of published scientific research finds high fructose corn syrup both safe and nutritionally the same as other common sweeteners like sugar and honey. Recent scientific studies have shown that the human body appears to metabolize high fructose corn syrup and sugar in much the same way. Like sugar, honey and some fruit juices, high fructose corn syrup contains almost equal portions of fructose and glucose. Both sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain 4 calories per gram.

Kathleen J. Melanson, et al. at the University of Rhode Island reviewed the effects of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose on circulating levels of glucose, leptin, insulin and ghrelin in a study group of lean women. The study found “no differences in the metabolic effects” of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. (Melanson KJ, Zukley L, Lowndes J, Nguyen V, Angelopoulos TJ, Rippe JM. 2007. Effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption on circulating glucose, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin and on appetite in normal-weight women. Nutrition 23(2):103-12.)

Joshua Lowndes, et al. reported on the effects of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose on circulating levels of uric acid. Uric acid is believed to play a role in the development of the metabolic syndrome. This short-term study found “no differences in the metabolic effects in lean women [of high fructose corn syrup] compared to sucrose,” and also called for further similar studies of obese individuals and males. (Lowndes J, et al. June 2007. The Effect of High-Fructose Corn Syrup on Uric Acid Levels in Normal Weight Women. Presented at the June 2007 meeting of The Endocrine Society. Program Abstract #P2-45.)

Linda M. Zukley, et al. at the Rippe Lifestyle Institute reviewed the effects of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose on triglycerides in a study group of lean women. This short-term study found “no differences in the metabolic effects in lean women [of high fructose corn syrup] compared to sucrose,” and called for further similar studies of obese individuals or individuals at risk for the metabolic syndrome. (Zukley M, et al. June 2007. The Effect of High Fructose Corn Syrup on Post-Prandial Lipemia in Normal Weight Females. Presented at the June 2007 meeting of The Endocrine Society. Program Abstract #P2-46.)

No credible research has demonstrated that high fructose corn syrup affects appetite differently than sugar. Research by Pablo Monsivais, et al. at the University of Washington found that beverages sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup as well as 1% milk all have similar effects on feelings of fullness. (Monsivais P, Perrigue MM, Drewnowski A. 2007. Sugars and satiety: does the type of sweetener make a difference? Am J Clin Nutr. Jul;86(1):116-23.)

Stijn Soenen and Margriet S Westerterp-Plantenga from the Department of Human Biology at Maastricht University in The Netherlands studied the effects of beverages sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup as well as milk on feelings of fullness. The researchers found “no differences in satiety, compensation or overconsumption” between the three beverages. (Soenen S and Westerterp-Plantenga MS. 2007. No differences in satiety or energy intake after high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, or milk preloads. Am J Clin Nutr 86:1586 -94.)

Tina Akhavan and G. Harvey Anderson at the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto studied the effect of solutions containing sugar, high fructose corn syrup and various ratios of glucose to fructose on food intake, average appetite, blood glucose, plasma insulin, ghrelin and uric acid in men. The researchers found that sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and 1:1 glucose/fructose solutions do not differ significantly in their short-term effects on subjective and physiologic measures of satiety, uric acid and food intake at a subsequent meal. (Akhavan T. and Anderson GH. November 2007. Effects of glucose-to-fructose ratios in solutions on subjective satiety, food intake, and satiety hormones in young men. Am J Clin Nut. Vol. 86(5) 1354-1363.)

Many parts of the world, including Australia, Mexico and Europe, have rising rates of obesity and diabetes despite having little or no high fructose corn syrup in their foods and beverages, which supports findings by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the American Diabetes Association that the primary causes of diabetes are obesity, advancing age and heredity.

Around the world, high fructose corn syrup accounts for about 8 percent of caloric sweeteners consumed. (LMC International, Inc. 2008. Table 2: World Sugar & HFCS Consumption. Sweetener Analysis January 2008.)

USDA data show that per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been declining in recent years, yet the incidence of obesity and diabetes in the United States remains on the rise.

An expert review of the research literature on the dietary role of high fructose corn syrup has found insufficient support for the notion that high fructose corn syrup could play a unique causal role in obesity. The expert panel led by Richard Forshee, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy (CFNAP) concluded that “the currently available evidence is insufficient to implicate HFCS per se as a causal factor in the overweight and obesity problem in the United States.” (Forshee RA, Storey ML, Allison DB, Glinsmann WH, Hein GL, Lineback DR, Miller SA, Nicklas TA, Weaver GA, White JS. 2007. A Critical Examination of the Evidence Relating High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Gain. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 47(6):561–582.)

Most sweeteners undergo processing to make the final sweetener. The sugar refining process consists of numerous steps and process aids including: multiple clarifying steps with heat and lime, polymer flocculent and phosphoric acid; multiple evaporation steps; centrifugation; washing with pressure filtration or chemical treatment; and decolorization with carbon or bone char. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide, or enzymes are added to liquid sucrose to break the bond between glucose and fructose to make invert sugar. Sucrose from sugar beets is processed by similar methods. (See generally Environmental Protection Agency, AP 42, Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors, Vol. 1, § 9.10.1.1 Sugarcane Processing (5th ed.); Galloway JH. December 1996. History of sugar – Domestication to the 17th Century, abstracted from Annals of the Ass’n of Am. Geographers., Vol. 86, No. 4, at 682-706; Chou CC. 2000. Sugar refining processes and equipment, in Handbook of Sugar Refining: A Manual for the Design and Operation of Sugar Refining Facilities.)

high fructose corn syrup is made from corn starch, which is separated from other kernel components through multiple grinding and screening steps, centrifugation and washing. The high fructose corn syrup refining process utilizes multiple enzymes and magnesium and consists of numerous steps including: multiple refining steps using membrane filters, carbon filters and ion-exchange columns; centrifugation; chromatographic separation; and multiple evaporation steps. (See generally White PJ and Johnson LA. 2003. “Corn Sweeteners,” in Corn Chemistry and Technology, 2nd Edition; Alexander RJ. 1998. “Production and Description,” in Sweeteners: Nutritive; and Corn Refiners Association. 2006. “Manufacture,” in Nutritive Sweeteners from Corn, 8th Edition.)

Fruit juice concentrates are purified through heat and enzyme processing and filtered to remove fiber, flavor components and impurities. The end product is almost identical (in calories, sugars and nutrients) to sugar, honey or high fructose corn syrup. (See generally Nobigrot T, Chasalow FI, Lifshitz F. 1997. Carbohydrate absorption from one serving of fruit juice in young children: age and carbohydrate composition effects. J Am Coll Nutr 16:152-158; Chaplin M, Bucke C. 1990. Enzymes in the fruit juice, wine, brewing and distilling industries, in Enzyme Technology. Cambridge Univ. Press.)

High fructose corn syrup has a strong history as a safe ingredient recognized by food manufacturers and the U.S. government. In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration listed high fructose corn syrup as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (known as GRAS status) for use in food, and reaffirmed that ruling in 1996. (61 Fed. Reg. 43447 (August 23, 1996), 21 C.F.R. 184.1866. Direct food substances affirmed as Generally Recognized as Safe; High Fructose Corn Syrup – Final Rule.)

Please do not hesitate to visit our website, http://www.HFCSfacts.com, for further information or to contact us if we may be of assistance by providing additional information about the products made from corn.

Thank you for your consideration,

Audrae Erickson
President
Corn Refiners Association
Washington, DC

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