High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a liquid alternative sweetener to sucrose that is made from corn, the “king of crops” using chemicals (caustic soda, hydrochloric acid) and enzymes (α-amylase and glucoamylase) to hydrolyze corn starch to corn syrup containing mostly glucose and a third enzyme (glucose isomerase) to isomerize glucose in corn syrup to fructose to yield HFCS products classified according to their fructose content: HFCS-90, HFCS-42, and HFCS-55. HFCS-90 is the major product of these chemical reactions and is blended with glucose syrup to obtain HFCS-42 and HFCS-55. HFCS has become a major sweetener and additive used extensively in a wide variety of processed foods and beverages ranging from soft and fruit drinks to yogurts and breads. HFCS has many advantages compared to sucrose that make it attractive to food manufacturers. These include its sweetness, solubility, acidity and its relative cheapness in the United States (US). The use of HFCS in the food and beverage industry has increased over the years in the US. The increase in its consumption in the US has coincided with the increase in incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndromes. This study examines literature on the production and properties of HFCS and the possible health concerns of HFCS consequent to its consumption in a wide variety of foods and beverages in the typical US diet.
Key words: High fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, soft and juice drinks, baked goods, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, mercury; honey bees, colony collapse disorder.
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