Are Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup Banned in the UK?

High-Fructose Corn Syrup in jar

Corn syrup is commonly used to sweeten foods in the United States as an alternative to sugar.

However, corn syrup is rarely seen on the ingredients list of products in the United Kingdom.

Is this because corn syrup is banned in the UK? Let’s find out!


Is Corn Syrup Banned in the United Kingdom?

Many people assume that corn syrup is banned in the UK as it is not readily available to purchase in supermarkets.

However, corn syrup is not illegal in the United Kingdom, nor most other countries in Europe. You can purchase corn syrup and corn syrup-containing products without breaking the law.

That said, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) previously faced UK restrictions.

Until 2017 (when the UK was still part of the European Union), HFCS did face a production quota—annual production was capped at around 720,000 tonnes across the EU.

Contrary to popular belief, this production quota was implemented to ensure equitable agricultural and economic development across the EU, as opposed to related health concerns.


Is Corn Syrup Used in the UK?

Corn syrup is used in the UK but is not readily available to buy. This is partially down to agricultural practices within Europe vs. the US.

Corn is a significant crop in the US and is mainly grown for the purpose of producing sugar. While maize is grown in the UK, it is primarily grown as food for livestock.

Instead, the United Kingdom uses sugar beet as its primary source of sugar. In fact, around half of the UK’s sugar comes from this plant. It is commercially grown for the primary purpose of sugar production.

This agricultural landscape, rather than any bans or restrictions on corn syrup, makes this type of syrup more uncommon in the United Kingdom.


Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Used in the UK?

High fructose corn syrup is also used in the UK. Some UK foods containing HFCS include McVitie’s HobNobs, McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, and Mr Kipling Bakewell Slices.

The ingredients list may refer to it as glucose–fructose syrup rather than high fructose corn syrup, but it is the same thing.

While some UK products contain HFCS, its usage is negligible, with people eating an average of 0.38 kilograms annually.

In the United States, HFCS consumption is around 65 times higher at 24.78 kilograms per person per year.

With this in mind, UK residents don’t need to worry too much about the health concerns of HFCS.

However, anyone wanting to limit their intake can do so easily by avoiding foods containing high fructose corn syrup, in particular certain biscuits and cakes.

Simply check the ingredients before taking a bite – it usually appears as either “high fructose corn syrup”, “HFCS”, or “glucose-fructose syrup” on the ingredients list.

For home-baked goods, try exchanging HFCS with golden or maple syrup.


What Is Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup is essentially a sweetener used to replace the sugar used to improve the flavour and texture of certain foods.

The syrup is made from the starch of corn plants (also known as maise) and contains varying amounts of glucose, maltose, and oligosaccharide sugars. It is available to purchase in both light and dark varieties.

It is important to note that corn syrup is distinct from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS; also known as fructose-glucose syrup or FGS).

Both are syrups made from corn plants. However, HFCS is manufactured from corn syrup by converting some glucose into fructose.

Fructose has a sweeter taste than glucose, thus giving foods an even sweeter consistency. It is often used in carbonated drinks and many people believe there is a connection between HFCS consumption and obesity.

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