Are you concerned about the safety of high fructose corn syrup?
You’re not alone.
This inexpensive sweetener is used in many processed foods and beverages, but there have been questions about its potential health risks, including links to obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease.
While it’s not banned in any country, some nations have placed restrictions on its use.
In this article, we’ll explore which countries have banned or limited high fructose corn syrup and what the research says about its impact on our health.
Let’s dive in.
What Countries Ban High Fructose Corn Syrup?
Contrary to popular belief, high fructose corn syrup is not banned in any country. However, some countries have placed restrictions on its use.
Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark have all restricted the use of high fructose corn syrup. In these countries, it’s referred to as isoglucose or glucose-fructose syrup and is under a production quota.
Other countries, such as France, China, Australia, and the UK, use less than one pound per capita of high fructose corn syrup. Meanwhile, the United States consumes the most at 55 pounds per capita.
It’s important to note that while some countries have placed restrictions on high fructose corn syrup, it’s still widely used in many products and is not banned anywhere.
What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a liquid sweetener made from corn starch. It is a combination of glucose and fructose, with different formulations containing varying amounts of fructose. The most common forms of HFCS contain either 42% or 55% fructose, with the rest being glucose and water. HFCS is derived from corn starch, which is broken down into individual glucose molecules to make corn syrup. Enzymes are then added to convert some of the glucose into fructose, resulting in HFCS.
HFCS is often compared to granulated sugar, but it has manufacturing advantages over sugar as it’s easier to handle and cheaper. It’s used in a wide range of products, including processed foods, breakfast cereals, baked goods, soft drinks, and canned foods. The United States consumes the most high fructose corn syrup at 55 pounds per capita, while other countries such as France, China, Australia, and the UK use less than one pound per capita.
While some countries have placed restrictions on the use of high fructose corn syrup, it’s important to note that it’s still widely used in many products and is not banned anywhere.
Health Concerns Associated With High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been linked to a variety of health concerns, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Studies have shown that consuming sugary beverages with HFCS or sucrose can increase liver fat and decrease insulin sensitivity, which is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. In fact, within just two weeks of consuming sugary beverages, significant changes in liver fat and insulin sensitivity can be observed.
Excessive intake of HFCS has also been linked to inflammation, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Additionally, it may increase the production of harmful substances called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can harm cells. Furthermore, it may exacerbate inflammatory diseases like gout due to increased inflammation and uric acid production.
HFCS has also been shown to increase appetite and promote obesity more than regular sugar. It contributes to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects over 90 million Americans and can lead to cirrhosis or liver failure. In fact, sugar in our diet is now the leading cause of liver transplants.
Several studies have linked the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages with obesity, diabetes, the metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The increased caloric intake from these beverages can enhance the risk of obesity by serving as “add-on” calories that do not suppress the intake of other foods to an appropriate degree.
Countries With Restrictions On High Fructose Corn Syrup
Some countries have placed restrictions on the use of high fructose corn syrup, while others have not. Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark are among the countries that have restricted the use of high fructose corn syrup. In these countries, it’s referred to as isoglucose or glucose-fructose syrup and is under a production quota.
France, China, Australia, and the UK use less than one pound per capita of high fructose corn syrup. However, it’s important to note that while some countries have placed restrictions on high fructose corn syrup, it’s still widely used in many products and is not banned anywhere.
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup is highest in the United States at 55 pounds per capita. Other countries with high consumption rates include Canada, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belgium, Argentina, Korea, Japan, and Mexico. On the other hand, countries where no high fructose corn syrup is used include India, Ireland, Sweden, Austria, Uruguay, and Lithuania.
It’s clear that there are varying opinions on the safety of high fructose corn syrup and its potential health risks. While some countries have placed restrictions on its use, it’s still widely used in many parts of the world. It’s important for consumers to be aware of the potential health risks associated with high fructose corn syrup and to make informed decisions about their food choices.
Mexico’s Ban On High Fructose Corn Syrup
In 1997, the Mexican government passed a levy on high-fructose corn syrup in an attempt to keep the demand and price for Mexican sugar higher. However, this move was deemed an unfair infringement on trade by the United States, who went to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to make its case. The WTO decided in favor of the U.S., stating that Mexico’s levy was illegal and violated trade laws.
In response, Mexico implemented anti-dumping duties on U.S. high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in 1998. These duties ranged from $55.37-$175.50 per tonne and were aimed at blocking exports of U.S.-produced HFCS to Mexico. The U.S. government, led by Senator Chuck Grassley, launched dispute settlement proceedings at the WTO with regard to Mexico’s 20 percent tax on soft drinks containing HFCS. Mexico’s high fructose corn syrup tax was considered illegal by the WTO and was clearly aimed at blocking exports of U.S.-produced high fructose corn syrup to Mexico.
The Corn Refiners Association estimated losses of $944 million in HFCS sales, equivalent to 168 million bushels of corn when the tax was in effect. However, after more than four years, Mexico removed the 20% tax on soft drinks sweetened with HFCS following the WTO ruling.
It’s important to note that while Mexico placed restrictions on HFCS through anti-dumping duties and a tax on soft drinks containing HFCS, it did not completely ban its use. Like other countries, Mexico continues to use high fructose corn syrup in many products.
The European Union’s Regulations On High Fructose Corn Syrup
The European Union (EU) allows the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in specific products, such as energy drinks, but has classified it as a “novel food ingredient”. It cannot be used in other products such as soft drinks or confectionery until it undergoes an extensive safety assessment. In the UK, HFCS is technically classified as a novel food ingredient, but foods that contain it can still be sold as long as the product does not exceed 15% of the total sugar content or contain more than 5 g (for solid foods) or 10 g (for liquid foods) per 100 g of HFCS. The labeling of products that contain it must include the statement “Contains HFCS.”
In France, HFCS has been banned from use in human foods since 2010. A similar ban is in place in Greece, and some other countries, such as Germany, Italy and Spain, have imposed restrictions on the use of HFCS in certain products. However, the EU’s sugar quota regime used to account for only 4% of the EU sugar market, and under the 2013 agriculture reform, that regime will be abolished on 30 September 2017, meaning that the EU will open up its market to HFCS.
The European Food Safety Agency has not carried out any health impact assessment of HFCS yet. However, obesity experts have expressed concern about an EU decision to allow a “health claim” for fructose, the sweetener implicated in the disastrous upsurge in weight in the US. It’s important to note that while HFCS is not banned anywhere, some countries have placed restrictions on its use due to concerns about its potential impact on health.
Japan’s Limitations On High Fructose Corn Syrup
Japan has also placed limitations on high fructose corn syrup. While it’s one of the most popular food additives in Japan, the country blocks its import with a high tariff and limits starch imports through a tariff-rate quota of 157,000 tons per year. Additionally, Japan has imposed a quota on corn as a source of substitute sweeteners. These restrictions are in place to protect the country’s domestic sugar industry. Interestingly, it was a Japanese scientist who invented high fructose corn syrup in 1966 as a cheaper way to add sweetness, glossiness, and thickness to drinks, sauces, and marinades. Despite its invention in Japan, the country has placed limitations on its use.