If you haven’t heard the latest news out of the artificial sweeteners camp, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) wants the FDA to let them change the name of their hallmark product, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). According to the CRA press release, the name change is an “effort to help clarify the labeling of food products for consumers.” They just want to make it easier on us.
Presumed good intentions aside, there is likely a much simpler reason behind the desired name change: money. Changing the name to the softer, less mechanical sounding “corn sugar” might make people feel more comfortable consuming products containing the sweetener. Thus, sales of HFCS, which have been slowly declining of late (despite the fact that Americans still consume 35 pounds of the stuff per year), might start to rebound.
This is not the first time an artificial food additive has undergone a transformation for the sake of PR. One of the most notorious artificial sweeteners, aspartame—also known as NutraSweet—recently made the switch to a cleaner, friendlier sounding name: AminoSweet. (What is Aspartame?)
AminoSweet and corn sugar both sound more natural than their predecessors, which is another way manufacturers are hoping to overcome the growing concerns over the health risks connected with artificial sweeteners. To be clear, neither sweetener is natural...but then again, even white sugar is refined. So the definition of “natural sweetener” is most definitely blurred, and clever marketing executives are taking advantage.
Do you avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or other artificial sweeteners? What’s your sweetener of choice?
By Ben H.
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