F.D.A.: HFCS can be natural under certain process

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration would not object to the use of the term "natural" on a product containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) produced by a common manufacturing process, according to an F.D.A. letter dated July 3 and sent to the Corn Refiners Association (C.R.A.), Washington.

Geraldine A. June, supervisor of a product evaluation and labeling team within the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), signed the letter and addressed it to Audrae Erickson, president of the C.R.A.

The letter followed an April 16 meeting between the CFSAN and the C.R.A. A representative of Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., at the meeting explained a manufacturing process used to make HFCS. The CRA sent a written description of the production process to the CFSAN after the meeting.

Ms. June in the July 3 letter wrote, "After reviewing the information about the HFCS production process that you provided, it is our understanding that the enzyme used to make HFCS is fixed to a column by the use of the synthetic fixing agent, glutaraldehyde. Any unreacted glutaraldehyde is removed by washing the column prior to the addition of the high dextrose equivalent corn starch hydrolysate, which undergoes enzymatic reaction to produce HFCS.

"Because the glutaraldehyde does not come into contact with the high dextrose equivalent corn starch hydrolysate, it would not be considered to be included in or added to the HFCS."

The F.D.A. thus would not object to labeling products made with HFCS manufactured such a way as natural. This manufacturing process commonly is employed in the corn refining industry, according to the C.R.A.

"Upon careful review of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the F.D.A. found that HFCS can be labeled natural," Ms. Erickson said. "HFCS contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets F.D.A.’s requirements for the use of the term ‘natural.’

"HFCS, like table sugar and honey, is natural. It is made from corn, a natural grain product."

The F.D.A. letter also stated instances in which the F.D.A. would object to natural claims. It would object to the use of the term natural on a product containing HFCS that has a synthetic substance such as a synthetic fixing agent included in or added to it. The F.D.A. would object to the use of the term natural on a product containing HFCS if the acids used to obtain the starch hydrolysate do not fit within the F.D.A.’s policy on natural.

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