Corn Syrup

The singular term “corn syrup” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is used to identify a group of sweeteners that differ from one another simply by the amount of dextrose (glucose) present in the commercial syrup. Since only a single type of corn syrup is generally used in a food product, the term “corn syrup” is permitted in an ingredient statement.

The more general term glucose syrup is often used synonymously with corn syrup, since the former is most commonly made from corn starch. Technically, glucose syrup is any liquid starch hydrolysate of mono, di, and higher saccharides and can be made from any sources of starch; wheat, rice and potatoes are the most common sources.

Corn syrups are used in many of today’s salad dressings, tomato sauces, powdered drink mixes, fruit drinks and juices, and frozen desserts like pudding and ice milk. However, consumers have no idea how much glucose is contained in the particular “corn syrup” listed in an ingredient statement. A commercial “corn syrup” may contain between 20% and 98% dextrose (glucose).

Glucose syrup and dextrose are produced from number 2 yellow dent corn. When wet milled, a bushel of corn will yield an average of 31.5 pounds of starch, which in turn will yield about 33.3 pounds of glucose syrup, or dextrose. Thus, it takes about 60 bushels of corn to produce one short ton of either glucose syrup or dextrose.

Glucose syrup and dextrose were the primary corn sweeteners in the United States prior to the expansion of High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) production. HFCS is a variant in which other enzymes are used to convert some of the glucose into fructose. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble.

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