Label Decoder: High Maltose Corn Syrup by Toby Amidor in Label Decoder, August 13, 2009
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You’ve probably seen high maltose corn syrup when scanning food labels before, even if you don’t quite remember where. Did you know it’s a close cousin to the infamous high-fructose corn syrup? Read on to get the scoop (literally, it’s found in ice cream) on this common ingredient.
What is it?
High maltose corn syrup is a sugar additive that’s used to improve shelf life and prevent bacterial growth. It has slight chemical differences from maltodextrin and corn syrup solids (two other common sweeteners) — though all three are similar. To create high maltose corn syrup, food scientists add enzymes or acids to cornstarch, which creates a maltose-rich syrup. (Not to be even more sciencey, but maltose is the sugar that forms when two glucose units combine.)
Where is it found?
Check the labels on packaged ice cream, candy and even beer next time you go shopping — that’s where high maltose corn syrup usually hangs out.
High maltose corn syrup is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration. Our bodies easily digest and absorb the additive. With high-fructose corn syrup facing a lot of criticism from the public and food advocates, many food companies have turned to high maltose corn syrup instead. Thing is — they have to use more because high maltose syrup is not as sweet.
As always, moderation is key. Occasional consumption of high maltose corn syrup — or its slightly sweeter cousin high-fructose corn syrup — won’t hurt you. If you’re looking to cut calories to help slim down, eliminating high maltose corn syrup from your diet is a good place to start. It’s commonly found in high sugar and high fat foods anyway.