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ISU Professor Debunks Misconceptions on High Fructose Corn Syrup

February 15, 2017

The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) has teamed up with Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Chair 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 allowing them to 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 and as farmers, we are proud of that,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President, Larry Klever, a farmer from Audubon. “However, we think that there are a few things consumers should know about the corn we grow and how it is used. 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.”

99 percent 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 lbs. of sweetener. In 2015, 300 million bushels or 2.2. percent of U.S. Corn Production went to the processing of corn syrup. The rest went to feeding livestock, fueling our vehicles, for export, and for other corn processing and industrial uses.

HFCS got a bad rap in the 1980’s 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 of it being bad for you had already been spread. In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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,” said 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. 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 at the gas pump), we work to familiarize consumers about corn and the farmers that grow it.



 The Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) is an 7,500-member strong grassroots-driven organization, headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, serving members across the state, and lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its farmer members to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. For more information, visit





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