Label Decoder: High Maltose Corn Syrup

by in Label Decoder, August 13, 2009

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.

Any risks?
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.

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Comments (6)

  1. Steve says:

    more evidence to source food components as close to the origin as possible. Thank You

  2. D wms says:

    People eat too much sugar and sweet foods. You don't need it. I rarely eat processed foods from the grocery and always cook fresh from scratch. It is a sacrific, but your body gets used to it.

  3. pweber says:

    I just at a Nature Valley Chewey Trail mix bar. It lists HMCS as the second ingredient. The bar was only 140 calories however, which combined with all my other consumed calories still leaves me at less that 1800 per day today.

  4. TONY D. says:

    I KNEW IT WAS'NT A GOOD THING. BUT AS LONG AS ITS NOT AS DANGEROUS TO THE LIVER AS HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, IT'LL BE EASIER FOR THE HEART PATIENTS TOO. THANKS A LOT. I'LL PASS THIS ALONG/

  5. rlt says:

    Who says it's easier to digest. I ate this food additive in FiberOne bar. I has AWFUL lower GI distress. Painful gas and bloating!!! If you're watching gluten intake, don't eat this.

  6. IBall says:

    Another way the food processing corporations are getting away with putting poor ingredients in the foods of Americans. It is no wonder why many people are turning away and looking at foreign countries whose laws are much more strict.
    BTW – DO NOT assume fresh products are the answer. Even organic foods can be mislabeled according to FDA regulations, and new legal matters to allow chemically altered foods to be labeled as natural are becoming more prevalent. Also, much of the produce consumed here is either tainted with DDT from countries that have no restrictions or are genetically modified for color, less or no seeds, or size for which no scientific studies have been issued other than by the processors themselves.
    CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE. Let's stop the nonsense and hold them in check.

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