High fructose corn syrup
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—also called glucose/fructose in Canada, glucose–fructose syrup (GFS) in the EU, and high-fructose maize syrup in other countries—comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness.
In the United States sugar prices are two to three times higher than in the rest of the world, which makes HFCS significantly cheaper, so that it is the principal sweetener used in processed foods and beverages. It is commonly used in breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups, and condiments.
HFCS consists of 24% water, and the rest sugars. The most widely used varieties of HFCS are: HFCS 55 (mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose; and HFCS 42 (used in beverages, processed foods, cereals and baked goods), approximately 42% fructose and 53% glucose. HFCS-90, approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose, is used in small quantities for specialty applications, but primarily is used to blend with HFCS 42 to make HFCS 55.
Use as a replacement for sugar 
In the United States, HFCS is among the sweeteners that have primarily replaced sucrose (table sugar) in the food industry. Factors for this include governmental production quotas of domestic sugar, subsidies of U.S. corn, and an import tariff on foreign sugar, all of which combine to raise the price of sucrose to levels above those of the rest of the world, making HFCS cheaper for many sweetener applications. The relative sweetness of HFCS 55 is comparable to table sugar (sucrose), a disaccharide of fructose and glucose, (HFCS 90 is sweeter than sucrose and HFCS 42 is less sweet than sucrose) while, being a liquid, HFCS is easier to blend and transport.
Comparison to other sweeteners 
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,176 kJ (281 kcal)|
|- Dietary fiber||0 g|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.019 mg (2%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||0 mg (0%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.011 mg (0%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.024 mg (2%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||0 μg (0%)|
|Vitamin C||0 mg (0%)|
|Calcium||6 mg (1%)|
|Iron||0.42 mg (3%)|
|Magnesium||2 mg (1%)|
|Phosphorus||4 mg (1%)|
|Potassium||0 mg (0%)|
|Sodium||2 mg (0%)|
|Zinc||0.22 mg (2%)|
|Shown is for 100 g, roughly 5.25 tbsp.
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Cane and beet sugar 
Cane sugar and beet sugar are both relatively pure sucrose. While glucose and fructose (the two components of HFCS) are monosaccharides, sucrose is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. The fact that sucrose, glucose and fructose are unique, distinct molecules complicates the comparison between cane and beet sugar (sucrose) and HFCS. A molecule of sucrose (with a chemical formula of C12H22O11) can be broken down into a molecule of glucose (C6H12O6) plus a molecule of fructose (also C6H12O6, an isomer of glucose) in a weakly acidic environment by a process called inversion. Sucrose is broken down during digestion into a mixture of 50% fructose and 50% glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase. People with sucrase deficiency cannot digest (break down) sucrose and thus exhibit sucrose intolerance.
Honey is a mixture of different types of sugars, water, and small amounts of other compounds. Honey typically has a fructose/glucose ratio similar to HFCS 55, as well as containing some sucrose and other sugars. Like HFCS, honey contains water and has approximately 3 kcal per gram. Because of its similar sugar profile and lower price, HFCS has been used illegally to "stretch" honey. As a result, checks for adulteration of honey no longer test for higher-than-normal levels of sucrose, which HFCS does not contain, but instead test for small quantities of proteins that can be used to differentiate between HFCS and honey.
HFCS was first introduced by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi in 1957. They were, however, unsuccessful in making it viable for mass production. The industrial production process and creation was made by Dr. Yoshiyuki Takasaki at the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology of Ministry of International Trade and Industry of Japan in 1965–1970. HFCS was rapidly introduced to many processed foods and soft drinks in the U.S. from about 1975 to 1985.
HFCS is produced by milling corn (maize) to produce corn starch, then processing that starch to yield corn syrup, which is almost entirely glucose, and then adding enzymes that change some of the glucose into fructose. The resulting syrup (after enzyme conversion) contains approximately 42% fructose and is HFCS 42. Some of the 42% fructose is then purified to 90% fructose, HFCS 90. To make HFCS 55, the HFCS 90 is mixed with HFCS 42 in the appropriate ratios to form the desired HFCS 55. The enzyme process that changes the corn starch into HFCS 42 is as follows:
- alpha-amylase – produces shorter chains of sugars called oligosaccharides from raw cornstarch.
- Glucoamylase – breaks the oligosaccharides down even further to yield the simple sugar glucose.
- Xylose isomerase (aka glucose isomerase) – converts glucose to a mixture of about 42% fructose and 50–52% glucose with some other sugars mixed in.
Although both types of amylase are naturally produced by many animals (including humans), the most common method of commercial production is microbial fermentation. Xylose isomerase is not native to animals; and in standard glycolysis the glucose molecules are isomerized only after phosphorylation by glucose-6-phosphate isomerase yielding fructose 6-phosphate. Fructose molecules are phosphorylated by fructokinase and enter the glycolytic pathway at this point.
While inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are added directly to the slurry and used only once, the more costly xylose-isomerase is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it, allowing it to be used repeatedly until it loses its activity. This 42–43% fructose glucose mixture is then subjected to a liquid chromatography step, where the fructose is enriched to about 90%. The 90% fructose is then back-blended with 42% fructose to achieve a 55% fructose final product. Most manufacturers use carbon adsorption for impurity removal. Numerous filtration, ion-exchange and evaporation steps are also part of the overall process.
The units of measurement for sucrose is degrees Brix (symbol °Bx). Brix is a measurement of the mass ratio of dissolved sucrose to water in a liquid. A 25 °Bx solution has 25 grams of sucrose per 100 grams of solution (25% w/w). Or, to put it another way, there are 25 grams of sucrose and 75 grams of water in the 100 grams of solution. The Brix measurement was introduced by Antoine Brix.
A more universal measurement of sugars, including HFCS, is called dry solids. Dry solids is defined as the mass ratio of dry sugars to the total weight of the sugar solution. Since Brix is based on the refractive index of light against a sucrose molecule it is not accurate when measuring other sugars such as glucose, maltose, and fructose.
When an infrared Brix sensor is used, it measures the vibrational frequency of the sucrose molecules, giving a Brix degrees measurement. This will not be the same measurement as Brix degrees using a density or refractive index measurement, because it will specifically measure dissolved sugar concentration instead of all dissolved solids. When a refractometer is used, it is correct to report the result as "refractometric dried substance" (RDS). One might speak of a liquid as being 20 °Bx RDS. This is a measure of percent by weight of total dried solids and, although not technically the same as Brix degrees determined through an infrared method, renders an accurate measurement of sucrose content, since the majority of dried solids are in fact sucrose.
Recently, an isotopic method for quantifying sweeteners derived from corn and sugar cane was developed which permits measurement of corn syrup- and cane sugar-derived sweeteners in humans, thus allowing dietary assessment of the intake of these substances relative to total intake.
Sweetener consumption patterns 
Prior to the development of the worldwide sugar industry, dietary fructose was limited to only a few items. Milk, meats and most vegetables, the staples of many early diets, have no fructose and only 5–10% fructose by weight is found in fruits such as grapes, apples and blueberries. Molasses and common dried fruits have a content of less than 10% fructose sugar. From 1970 to 2000 there has been a 25% increase in "added sugars".
United States 
A system of sugar tariffs and sugar quotas imposed in 1977 in the United States significantly increased the cost of imported sugar and U.S. producers sought cheaper sources. HFCS derived from corn is more economical because the domestic U.S. prices of sugar are twice the global price and the price of corn is kept low through government subsidies paid to growers.
HFCS became an attractive substitute, and is preferred over cane sugar among the vast majority of American food and beverage manufacturers. Soft drink makers such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi use sugar in other nations, but switched to HFCS in the U.S. in 1984. Large corporations, such as Archer Daniels Midland, lobby for the continuation of government corn subsidies.
Other countries, including Mexico, typically use sugar in soft drinks. Some Americans seek out Mexican Coca-Cola in ethnic groceries because they prefer the taste compared to Coke made with HFCS. Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola sold in the U.S. around the Jewish holiday also uses sucrose rather than HFCS and is also highly sought after by people who prefer the original taste.
The average American consumed approximately 37.8 lb (17.1 kg) of HFCS in 2008, versus 46.7 lb (21.2 kg) of sucrose.
European Union 
In the European Union (EU), HFCS, known as isoglucose or glucose-fructose syrup, is subject to a production quota. In 2005, this quota was set at 303,000 tons; in comparison, the EU produced an average of 18.6 million tons of sugar annually between 1999 and 2001. Wide-scale replacement of sugar with HFCS has not occurred in the EU.
Health concerns have been raised about HFCS, which allege contribution to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions. The use of food grade hydrochloric acid in the processing of corn syrup has given rise to the unconfirmed speculations that HFCS itself is a source of inorganic mercury a known neurotoxin. The food industry no longer uses conventional chemical hydrolysis for the manufacture of HFCSs but instead a multi-step bioprocess with bacterial enzymes is applied. The Corn Refiners Association disputes these claims and maintains that HFCS is comparable to table sugar. Studies by the American Medical Association suggest "it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose", but welcome further independent research on the subject. Further reviews in the clinical literature have disputed the links between HFCS and obesity, type 2 diabetes,[need quotation to verify] and metabolic syndrome, and some food and beverage industry experts have concluded that HFCS is no different from any other sugar in relationship to these diseases.
While the growth of fructose consumption in many developed nations coincides with the increase of prevalence of obesity, medical research to date is inconclusive, with contradictory conclusions presented by various research teams. The consensus supported by many health professionals and nutrition experts points at an overall excessive use of carbohydrates, particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, that lead to weight gain, due to a decreased effect on satiety.
While some high fructose corn syrups may claim that their product contains all-natural ingredients, the processing sequence may involve the use of artificial and synthetic agents.
Apiculture (Bee Keeping) 
In the United States, HFCS has become a sucrose replacement for honey bees. In 2009, a study by Leblanc et al. found that at temperatures above 45 °C (113 °F) HFCS rapidly forms hydroxymethylfurfural, which is toxic to the honey bees being fed HFCS. In 2012, a study by Chensheng Lu et al. found symptoms of colony collapse disorder (CCD) in beehives fed HFCS that the researchers laced with levels of a pesticide hypothesized to have been present in HFCS feed back in 2006.
A 2013 study by Wenfu Mao and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign report that "constituents found in honey, including p-coumaric acid, pinocembrin, and pinobanksin 5-methyl ether, specifically induce detoxification genes." They found that adding p-coumaric acid to a diet of sucrose increases midgut metabolism of coumaphos, a widely used in-hive pesticide used for controlling Varroa mites, by approximately 60%. Since p-coumaric acid is a major component of pollen, it is part of the natural diet of honey bees, and may help regulate immune and detoxification processes. They conclude: "Using honey substitutes, including HFCS, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses."
Public relations 
There are various public relations issues with HFCS, including its labeling as "natural", its advertising, companies that have moved back to sugar, and a proposed name change to 'corn sugar'. In 2010 the Corn Refiners Association applied to allow HFCS to be renamed 'corn sugar', but was rejected by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012.
See also 
Further reading 
Litchfield, Ruth (2008). High Fructose Corn Syrup—How sweet it is. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Retrieved 1 March 2013.
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: The Canadian Soft Drink Industry "Glucose/fructose is a generic term for high fructose corn syrup or HFCS". Retrieved November 5, 2009.
- "Frequently Asked Questions: What is Glucose-Fructose Syrup?". European Food Information Council (EUFIC). Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- Glucose fructose syrup: the crack of sweeteners Netmums
- Forbes: HFCS Versus Sugar: A Modest Proposal for a Solution, 21 March 2012
- Beverage daily: ‘Sugar is much, much bigger’: Rocketing HFCS prices don’t spook Coke CEO
- David Wallinga, Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl, Brian Yablon (January 2009). Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "UM. Study – Not Enough Evidence to Indict High Fructose Corn Syrup in Obesity" (Press release). Ellen Ternes, University of Maryland. July 24, 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "ERS/USDA Briefing Room – Sugar and Sweeteners: Background". United States Department of Agriculture. updated August 6, 2009. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
- Article in Food Product Design by John S. White, Ph.D.John S. White, Ph.D., December 2, 2008, HFCS: How Sweet It Is, Food Product Design. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
- (Bray, 2004 & U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Sugar and Sweetener Yearbook series, Tables 50–52)
- Pollan, M, The (Agri)Cultural Contradictions Of Obesity, The New York Times', 12 October 2003.
- Engber, Daniel (2009-04-28). "The decline and fall of high-fructose corn syrup. – By Daniel Engber – Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- Hanover LM, White JS (1993). "Manufacturing, composition, and applications of fructose". Am J Clin Nutr 58 (suppl 5): 724S–732S.
- Sugar Confectionery Manufacture, E. B. Jackson, Springer, 1995, ISBN 0-8342-1297-8 (page 109 and 115)
- Neale G, Clark M, Levin B (November 1965). "Intestinal sucrase deficiency presenting as sucrose intolerance in adult life". British Medical Journal 2 (5472): 1223–5. doi:10.1136/bmj.2.5472.1223. PMC 1846606. PMID 5850689.
- Winston, Mark L. (1998). From where I sit: essays on bees, beekeeping, and science. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates. p. 109. ISBN 0-8014-8478-2.
- Marshall, R. O.; Kooi, E. R.; Moffett, G. M. (1957). "Enzymatic Conversion of d-Glucose to d-Fructose". Science 125 (3249): 648–649. doi:10.1126/science.125.3249.648. PMID 13421660.
- Jahren AH, Saudek C, Yeung EH, Kao WH, Kraft RA, Caballero B (December 2006). "An isotopic method for quantifying sweeteners derived from corn and sugar cane". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84 (6): 1380–1384. PMID 17158420.
- Bray, George A. (October 2007). "How bad is fructose?". Am J Clin Nutr (American Society for Clinical Nutrition) 86 (4): 895–896. PMID 1792136.
- Forshee RA; Storey, ML; Allison, DB; Glinsmann, WH; Hein, GL; Lineback, DR; Miller, SA; Nicklas, TA et al. (2007). "A critical examination of the evidence relating high-fructose corn syrup and weight gain" (PDF). Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 47 (6): 561–82. doi:10.1080/10408390600846457. PMID 17653981.
- Grist ADM, high-fructose corn syrup, and ethanol
- "Food without Thought: How U.S. Farm Policy Contributes to Obesity". Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. November 2006. Archived from the original
|url=(help) on 2007-09-27.
- "Corn Production/Value". Allcountries.org. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- The Great Sugar Shaft by James Bovard, April 1998 The Future of Freedom Foundation
- James Bovard. "Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare". cato.org. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
- Is Mexican Coke the real thing? By Louise Chu ASSOCIATED PRESS November 9, 2004 The San Diego Union-Tribune
- "Mexican Coke a hit in U.S.". The Seattle Times.
- Dixon, Duffie (April 9, 2009). "Kosher Coke 'flying out of the store'". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- "U.S. per capita food availability – Sugar and sweeteners (individual)". Economic Research Service. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2010-03-12.
- M. Ataman Aksoy, John C. Beghin, ed. (2005). "Sugar Policies: An Opportunity for Change". Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries. World Bank Publications. p. 329. ISBN 0-8213-5863-4.
- (Japanese)１．需給関係資料(1) 砂糖及び異性化糖の需給総括表
- Princeton University: "A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain", retrieved 2011-12-14
- Dufault, R.; Leblanc, B.; Schnoll, R.; Cornett, C.; Schweitzer, L.; Wallinga, D.; Hightower, J.; Patrick, L. et al. (2009). "Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: Measured concentrations in food product sugar". Environmental Health 8: 2. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-2. PMC 2637263. PMID 19171026.
- Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- WashPost: Study Finds HFCS Contains Mercury Jan. 2009
- CBS News Investigates HFCS Oct. 2008
- "High Fructose Corn Syrup Health and Diet Facts". SweetSurprise.com. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- The Health Effects of High Fructose Syrup, Report 3 of The Council on Science and Public Health (A-08), The American Medical Association
- White JS (December 2008). "Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain't". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 88 (6): 1716S–1721S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.25825B. PMID 19064536. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
- Samuel VT (February 2011). "Fructose induced lipogenesis: from sugar to fat to insulin resistance". Trends Endocrinol. Metab. 22 (2): 60–5. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2010.10.003. PMID 21067942.
- "Database of Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Reviews". Accessdata.fda.gov. 2006-10-31. Retrieved 2010-11-06.
- Havel, P. J. (2005). "Dietary Fructose: Implications for Dysregulation of Energy Homeostasis and Lipid/Carbohydrate Metabolism". Nutrition Reviews 63 (5): 133–157. doi:10.1301/nr.2005.may.133-157. PMID 15971409.
- Van Dam, R. M.; Seidell, J. C. (2007). "Carbohydrate intake and obesity". European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 61: S75–S99. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602939. PMID 17992188.
- LeBlanc, Blaise W.; Eggleston, Gillian; Sammataro, Diana; Cornett, Charles; Dufault, Renee; Deeby, Thomas; St. Cyr, Eldwin (26 August 2009). "Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 57 (16): 7369–7376. doi:10.1021/jf9014526.
- Lu, Chensheng; Warchol, Kenneth; Callahan, Richard A. (March 2012). "In situ replication of honey bee colony collapse disorder". Bulletin of Insectology 65 (13). ISSN 1721-8861.
- Maoa, Wenfu; Schulerb, Mary A.; Berenbaum, May R. (29 April 2013). "Honey constituents up-regulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Published online before print. doi:10.1073/pnas.1303884110. Retrieved 2 May 2013. "We determined that constituents found in honey, including p-coumaric acid, pinocembrin, and pinobanksin 5-methyl ether, specifically induce detoxification genes. These inducers are primarily found not in nectar but in pollen in the case of p-coumaric acid (a monomer of sporopollenin, the principal constituent of pollen cell walls) and propolis, a resinous material gathered and processed by bees to line wax cells. RNA-seq analysis (massively parallel RNA sequencing) revealed that p-coumaric acid specifically up-regulates all classes of detoxification genes as well as select antimicrobial peptide genes. This up-regulation has functional significance in that that adding p-coumaric acid to a diet of sucrose increases midgut metabolism of coumaphos, a widely used in-hive acaricide, by ∼60%. As a major component of pollen grains, p-coumaric acid is ubiquitous in the natural diet of honey bees and may function as a nutraceutical regulating immune and detoxification processes. The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses. (From the abstract.)"
- Yirka, Bob (30 April 2013). "Researchers find high-fructose corn syrup may be tied to worldwide collapse of bee colonies". Phys.org. Retrieved 2 May 2013. "A team of entomologists from the University of Illinois has found a possible link between the practice of feeding commercial honeybees high-fructose corn syrup and the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world. ... Since approximately 2006, groups that manage commercial honeybee colonies have been reporting what has become known as colony collapse disorder—whole colonies of bees simply died, of no apparent cause. As time has passed, the disorder has been reported at sites all across the world, even as scientists have been racing to find the cause, and a possible cure. To date, most evidence has implicated pesticides used to kill other insects such as mites. In this new effort, the researchers have found evidence to suggest the real culprit might be high-fructose corn syrup, which beekeepers have been feeding bees as their natural staple, honey, has been taken away from them. ... The researchers aren't suggesting that high-fructose corn syrup is itself toxic to bees, instead, they say their findings indicate that by eating the replacement food instead of honey, the bees are not being exposed to other chemicals that help the bees fight off toxins, such as those found in pesticides."
- FDA rejects industry bid to change name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar"
- Sugar, The Bitter Truth
- High fructose corn syrup at the Open Directory Project
- Not only Sugar is Sweet, article in FDA Consumer published in 1991