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Is Corn Syrup Vegan? What about High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are entirely plant-based and vegan.

Corn syrup is a popular sweetener used in most processed foods today. And because the term doesn’t exactly disclose where the syrup comes from, it can be confusing for vegans to figure out how it’s sourced.

Fortunately for the plant-based audience reading this, high-fructose corn syrup is naturally vegan. In fact, corn syrup is derived from corn starch and comprises mainly fructose and glucose, making this syrup safe for vegans to consume.

However, some ingredients in corn syrup can make vegans skeptical about the origins of this sweetener. In this article, we’ll look at how corn syrup is produced so you can safely consume it without worrying about animal exploitation.

How is Corn Syrup Produced? 

Manufacturing plants combine corn starch with hydrochloric acid and pressurize it to create industry-grade corn syrup. Most corn syrup is made using the starch of a variety of corn called yellow #2 dent corn. 

This starch is subjected to the process mentioned earlier, and in some cases, enzymes are added to hasten the process and render corn syrup of desirable quality.

Here’s a breakdown of the corn syrup manufacturing process:

  1. The corn arrives at the factory, where it is introduced into a large stainless steel container to separate the starch from the kernels.
  2. Once the kernel and germ have been separated, you’re left with a mix of protein, starch, and fiber.
  3. The fiber and protein are removed through further processing, and the starch is then subjected to specific processes before being turned into syrup.
  4. This starch is mixed with hydrochloric acid and subjected to increased temperature and pressure. The longer the starch undergoes this process, the sweeter the resulting corn syrup.
  5. Once the syrup is obtained, this liquid must be filtered to remove any excess water from the solution.
  6. Once the water is removed, you’re left with thick corn syrup that is added to various food products.

What is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

Conventional corn syrup isn’t as sweet as regular sugar, and this is useful when you want to create a food product where the sweetness doesn’t overpower the other flavors.

However, cookie or soft drink manufacturers require ingredients equal to sugar’s sweetness. High-fructose corn syrup produces that level of sweetness and can be derived from regular corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup is an ingredient with higher fructose content than usual, resulting in additional sweetness.

To make high-fructose corn syrup, certain enzymes are introduced into the regular corn syrup solution, and the mix is subjected to controlled temperature and pressure variations. This environment, along with the action of the enzymes, leads to the production of high-fructose corn syrup.

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Vegan?

Luckily for vegans, both regular and high-fructose corn syrup are entirely plant-based and safe for consumption. There’s usually confusion with this ingredient due to the presence of enzymes, which are sometimes derived from animals, likeĀ lecithin.

However, the enzyme used in producing high-fructose corn syrup is glucose isomerase, which is entirely plant-based.

Final Thoughts

Though corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are vegan, they are unfortunately very unhealthy and a cheaper substitute for sugar.