Photo: trimmer741, Flickr
Corn-syrup bashing has become one of the primary food-related preoccupations of the current era. First, a Princeton University study reported that lab rats gained more weight if fed a diet of corn syrup rather than plain old white sugar. Then obesity experts traced the rise of childhood and adult fatness at least party to humongous, "Big Gulp" servings of soda pop -- which contain large quantities of corn syrup.
Despite remonstrances on the part of agri-food giants like Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Corn Products International that their corn syrup remains wholesome and good for you, the public perception of corn syrup has increasingly become one of suspicion and even fear.
A new piece in the Chicago Tribune by senior business and economics correspondent Greg Burns reports that food companies are quietly reformulating their products to remove corn syrup and replace it with white sugar. They are doing so with little fanfare, because to make a big deal of it would draw the public's attention to the fact that many products -- and the list is shockingly large -- still contain corn syrup. Just about any label you look at will reveal corn syrup in some proportion or other, whether it be baked goods, frozen dinners, bottled sauces, or soft drinks.
As Burns points out, the popularity of corn syrup first arose among food manufacturers because government subsidies given to domestic corn growers, and tariffs placed upon imported white sugar, made corn syrup much cheaper than sugar, and hence amped up manufacturers' profits.
Now, soft drink giants like Pepsico have developed a multi-pronged approach by developing new "healthy" product lines (bottled waters, sports drinks, vitamin waters), racing to formulate better artificial sweeteners, and replacing corn syrup with sugar in some product lines. Expect, at least, many more niche products, which give consumers more choice when it comes to how healthy they want their food to be.