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Sulfuric Acid in High Fructose Corn Syrup

27th January 2010

Yep, that’s right.  I was watching a documentary called King Corn (which I highly recommend) where two recent college grads decide they want to try to make “all-natural” high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)  in their kitchen.  The HFCS industry wouldn’t let them bring cameras into their factories so they did it themselves.  Here is the list of ingredients required to make HFCS:

  • Corn (an inedible version awash in pesticides and fertilizer)
  • Water
  • Sulfuric Acid
  • Alpha-amylase
  • Glucoamylase
  • Glucose isomerase

Yikes!  I know the HFCS industry is spending millions trying to convince people that this stuff is no worse than pure cane sugar, but it has SULFURIC ACID in it.  I’ll grant them the fact that there are no clinical studies showing that HFCS is directly linked to much of our modern day malaise, but… it has SULFURIC ACID in it! It’s also in thousands of foods, and has made all of those foods cheaper to produce which has opened the door to Super Sized Portions.   There’s the rub, and the reason why when HFCS came on the market in the early 80’s the obesity rate skyrocketed.  That’s probably not because of the chemical make-up of HFCS, but more likely because suddenly using corn syrup instead of sugar allowed food manufacturers to cut costs and increase portions.  And so we got the Super Big Gulp for 59 cents which would never have been possible if we still used natural but expensive cane sugar. Remember when you had to pay for refills of Coke?  Not anymore, thanks to HFCS!  Drink all you want!  Wait… is that really a good thing?  Suddenly I have the image of the Big Tobacco executives swearing under oath to congress that they unanimously think their product is NOT addictive.

Thankfully we have intuition, and if yours isn’t telling you there might be something wrong with this stuff then it may need a tune up.  I swore off HFCS 10 days ago and after the initial shock it hasn’t been that hard to avoid.  It takes preparation though as many of your fast foods and prepared foods are loaded with it (and sodium BTW).  So I spend a little more time cooking fresh meats and veggies and less time surfing the web.  That’s probably a win/win.

The HFCS lobby will tell you that we are responsible for controlling ourselves and not over-consuming their product.  But then they put their cheap sweet goo in everything and offer it in portion sizes that are absurd to get us to consume more of it.  All in the name of increasing profits by shoving more product down our throats.  Not a business I want to be in.

If you know of any restaurants in Ventura County that specifically avoid foods and sauces containing HFCS please share them in the comments section.

I enjoy writing about technology, travel, wine and living in Ventura, CA.


  • Dodie Herrmann
    Posted at 3:19 pm March 3, 2011
    Dodie Herrmann
    Reply Author

    I totally agree–however, part of what they say on the commercials is true, about it being pretty much the same as (refined) cane sugar. That is because refined cane sugar also uses sulfuric acid to get the refining process going. And a few other harmful chemicals. Too bad people just don’t know what they are consuming.Funny how we have all these labeling laws, but they don’t have to include these “refining” chemicals in our sugars and corn syrup. Good article. Thanks!

    • Don lefebvre
      Posted at 11:20 pm January 30, 2017
      Don lefebvre
      Reply Author

      I worked in several cane sugar plants/refineries
      And in none was any chemical ‘s cane is crushed, the juice diluted with water and heated in vacuum pots, then powdered sugar is added to crystalize, then it is dropped into a centrifical and steam is used to wash it to pure white sugar that is whats dryed and sold no contaminants period
      Some plants put the kettle vacuum syrup through activated charcoal to purify before kettle crystalization.The slingout of each sucessive strike (drop)
      Is finally reduced to molasses.That is it ,packaged and shipped,period.Boiler steam is very hot making the sugar white true most vitamins especially B-6 and iron winds up in molasses.
      Gauchaux sugar,krogar sugar and others.D L

  • daniel,
    Posted at 9:27 pm August 1, 2012
    Reply Author

    Its not the same, your body has a hard time processing hfcs, cane sugar was produced in 1700s , bad cases of diabetes showed up after the making of hfcs, cancers, look it up! If u don’t think so! Don’t trust people who are making billions at your cost,and your health!

  • Cassie
    Posted at 8:21 pm September 9, 2014
    Reply Author

    High fructose corn syrup is so refined that your body does need to process it. It goes directly in to your blood stream. Regular sugar however bad for you at least needs to break down first. Hfc is bad, bad, bad for you.