Nutrition expert: FDA made right call despite sweetener similarities

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made the right call on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) even though there’s little difference between that and regular sugar, according to Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

“Nutritionally it makes no difference whatsoever,” Nestle told Brownfield Ag News, from her New York office. “There’s a little bit more fructose in high fructose corn syrup, but such a small difference that it really doesn’t matter much. The health issue has to do with calories; they both have the same number of calories.”

The FDA decided last week that HFCS will continue to be called that on ingredient labels instead of being called corn sugar, which was the wish of the Corn Refiners Association. Nestle, who is with New York University, says the FDA regulatory definitions are already clear for sugar and for corn sugar. She says HFCS doesn’t fit either one.

“They would have had to go back and redo the regulatory definitions, this long, tedious, glacial process, and they didn’t want to do that,” said Nestle. “They couldn’t see any reason why they needed to do something like that in order to make the corn refiners marketing life easier.”

Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson says she’ll keep trying to overcome confusion among consumers about the name HFCS.

“We will continue our efforts to educate them about this ingredient and added sugars in general, because really we think it’s important that they are able to make informed dietary decisions,” Erickson told Brownfield.

Both Nestle and Erickson agree that consumption of any sugar should be in moderation and within dietary guidelines.

AUDIO: Marion Nestle (4 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Audrae Erickson (3 min. MP3)

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