close-up of ears of corn on a stalk
SAFE TO EAT: The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has teamed with an Iowa State University nutrition expert to debunk the common misconceptions regarding high-fructose corn syrup. The science finds sugar made from corn or sugarcane can be enjoyed in moderation.

Corn sweetener: Sorting fact from fiction

Iowa State University food science professor debunks misconceptions about high-fructose corn syrup.

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has teamed up with Ruth MacDonald, chairwoman and professor of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, in creating a video explaining the makeup of fructose and debunking the common misconceptions regarding high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The video, located on Iowa Corn’s YouTube channel and Facebook account, uses animation to break down a complex topic for Iowans, letting them make informed food purchasing decisions. Click here to watch the video.

“Walk down any grocery store aisle, and just about everything on the shelves contains corn ingredients grown right here in Iowa. As farmers, we are proud of that,” says Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon who is president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

Corn popular food ingredient
“However, we think that there are a few things consumers should know about the corn we grow and how it is used,” says Klever. “We want Iowans and all consumers to understand that there is little difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar or any other sweetener. HFCS is made from corn, a natural grain product with no additives. By partnering with Dr. MacDonald, we are able to provide the public with accurate information in a way that resonates.”

First, people need to understand that 99% of the corn grown in Iowa is field corn. The kernel is made up of four major components — starch, fiber, protein and oil — that can be processed in different ways to be used in all kinds of products. In fact, a typical grocery store contains 4,000 items that list corn ingredients on the label.

Corn syrup is used as a sweetener, thickening agent and as a humectant: a water-absorbing ingredient. One bushel of corn can provide 33 pounds of sweetener. In 2015, 300 million bushels, or 2.2%, of U.S. corn production went to the processing of corn syrup. The remaining corn crop was used as livestock feed, vehicle fuel, and other corn processing and industrial uses.

Safe for human consumption
HFCS got a bad rap in the 1980s when two professors published an unsound study linking it to obesity. The scientists later admitted in 2004 they reached an erroneous hypothesis using flawed science. The American Medical Association has since stated there is no correlation, but the damage had been done and the myth that fructose is bad for you had already been spread. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally listed high-fructose corn syrup as safe for use in food and reaffirmed that decision in 1996.

“The science is clear, you can enjoy sugar made from corn or sugar cane in moderation,” says Klever.

The versatility of corn often creates questions and at times concerns for the unknown. That is why one of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board’s top priorities is to promote corn in all forms while answering consumers’ questions and addressing their concerns, says Klever. “With campaigns such as Corn: It’s Everything — which discusses the importance and the many uses of corn — and Super Duper — a push to use E15 ethanol blend at the gas pump — we work to familiarize consumers about corn and the farmers who grow it.”

Source: Iowa Corn Promotion Board

 

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