Sugar Content Study Flawed

Oct 27, 2010, 12:11 ET from Corn Refiners Association

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A news release issued today by the University of Southern California alleging higher than normal amounts of fructose in sweetened beverages containing high fructose corn syrup appears to have failed to use standard analytical procedures to measure the content of sugars present.

"Consumers should know that fructose is safe.  It exists in higher levels in pear juice concentrate than what these researchers claim to have found in their study," said Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association. "Fructose is commonly found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as honey, maple syrup, processed sugars, and high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar."

"The researchers failed to disclose the presence of higher sugars, and completely overlooked the process of table sugar breaking down in Ph environments – called inversion.  The results from this study cannot be taken seriously until they are confirmed or replicated by an independent body that is experienced in analyzing sugar content," continued Erickson.  "It would be premature to draw conclusions from this paper."

The abnormal findings published in this study may have resulted from inadvertent errors made in the analysis of the sugar content.  For example, key factors in analyzing sugars were either overlooked or were not mentioned in the study.  For sucrose sweetened beverages, this would include aspects of sucrose inversion.  For the high fructose corn syrup sweetened beverages, it would include the presence of higher sugars, (which were left out of the analysis or could have been erroneously added to the fructose content).  Moreover, the authors did not specify which analytical method they used and how the samples were prepared, which could also compromise the findings from this study.

Additional facts to be considered:

  • A very limited number of samples were analyzed (for example, one analysis done on one sample from a 14 ounce soft drink.)
  • The lab used for this study may not be familiar with the process of analyzing sugars and carbohydrates.
  • The researchers do not specify which analytical method was used.
  • The amount of maltose found in the beverages was not used in the final calculations, suggesting that the researchers erroneously attributed the higher sugar count to fructose levels.
  • The researchers did not stipulate how the samples were prepared or how the solids were measured, both of which could have compromised the results.
  • The researchers appear to not understand sucrose inversion, and therefore, may well have mis-attributed its effects and miscalculated fructose and glucose levels.
  • Fountain dispensers have canisters of syrup concentrate.  The concentrate is blended with carbonated water.  If the blend rate is not set properly, the level of syrup and accordingly of fructose could be increased.

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

SOURCE Corn Refiners Association