Food Bubble: What is corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup?

It seems there is a growing trend to either remove corn syrup from a list of ingredients, or make sure consumers know it has never been there. But, why? What exactly is corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup?

“Kernels of corn have a hull around the outside that’s quite fibrous, and on the inside you’d find predominantly starch,” explains John White of John White Consulting. “And the goal of the corn wet milling process is to separate the starch from the other components of the corn kernel.”

In this episode of Food Bubble, host Andrew Campbell takes us on a journey through sweeteners, from how corn syrup is made to how it compares to other alternatives.

“The amount of glucose and fructose that’s in high fructose corn syrup – the ratio – is about the same as it is in table sugar,” says Ruth MacDonald, of Iowa State University, adding the ‘high’ in high fructose corn syrup is in comparison to corn syrup, not compared to sugar.

“Something like agave syrup, which we think of as being this ‘natural sweetener’…is higher in fructose than either sugar or high fructose corn syrup.”

So, how did we get here then? How is it one sweetener gets a bad rap when it’s so similar to the others? Listen on.

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