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According to a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), products containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) cannot be considered "natural" and should not be labeled as such. In response to an inquiry from FoodNavigator-USA, the FDA examined the composition of HFCS, which it said is produced using synthetic fixing agents. HFCS, FDA indicated, is prepared from a high dextrose equivalent corn starch hydrolysate by partial enzymatic conversion of glucose to fructose using an insoluble glucose isomerase enzyme preparation. The glucose isomerase enzyme preparation is fixed (rendered insoluble) using safe and suitable immobilization/fixing agents.
The FDA indicated that "the use of synthetic fixing agents in the enzyme preparation, which is then used to produce HFCS, would not be consistent with FDA policy regarding the use of the term 'natural.' Moreover, the corn starcy hydrolysate, which is the substrate used in the production of HFCS, may be obtained through the use of safe and suitable acids or enzymes. Depending on the type of acid(s) used to obtain the corn starch hydrolysate, the substrate itself may not fit within the description of 'natural' and therefore HFCS produced from such corn starch hydrolysate would not qualify for a 'natural' labeling term."
Although FDA provides no definition or detailed guidance on the use of the term "natural" it does have a system in place for manufacturers with doubts to request guidance on the use of particular ingredients. (Source: FEMA)