Fructose is a naturally produced fruit sugar found in honey and berries. It’s not the same thing as high fructose corn syrup, that sugary brown gunk found in countless products. However, there’s been a recent shift in the marketing of high fructose corn syrup and manufacturers are trying to convince consumers that it’s a natural sweetener by labeling it simply “fructose.”
The name change reported by the Corn Refiners Association came about after the FDA rejected a corn syrup bid, and is now being used to promote a product that was previously known as HFCS-90, meaning it is 90 percent pure fructose. Regular high fructose corn syrup contains usually around 40-55 percent fructose. The CRA reported that from now on products with 90% fructose will not state “high fructose corn syrup” on the label, but instead read “fructose” or “fructose syrup.”
So how is this being sneakily used on consumers? Well, products like this box of Cinnamon Chex cereal are being marketed with the tag “Contains no high fructose corn syrup.” That ingredient is simply hidden under a slightly skewed name.
The difference between high fructose corn syrup and fructose is like night and day. Unlike fructose, a natural occurring monosaccharide, a simple sugar, high fructose corn syrup is a processed sweetener developed from corn starch by a Japanese lab in 1970s. Unlike regular fructose found in fruit, high fructose corn syrup is not bound to fiber which makes it much harder for the body to break down.
Considering that high fructose corn syrup is found in a countless number of food products and can contribute to serious health issues including diabetes, it’s important to look for it in food labels. By labeling it as simply “fructose” when it is indeed not that, companies are hoping to avoid the much-deserved negative connotation associated with high fructose corn syrup.