The term corn-lite was coined (as far as I could research) back on 12/10/2007, not long after the invention of corntamination (earliest record 4/27/2007 as corn-tamination, the hyphen was dropped shortly after that). And though I don't really recall inventing them it seems that I did or at least I have the first recorded use of them that I could find. I do like to invent words, especially if there is no single word for what I need. I'm ultra-efficient (lazy) like that.
However, there seems to be lots of argument of what is actually corn-lite exactly and what does it mean?
Here's a definition of corn-lite that I posted back in 2009: "Corn-lite would be avoiding the major corn ingredients like corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal, etc.. and trying to avoid as much citric acid and ascorbic acid as possible. Basically eating lots of fresh veggies, meats, and homebaked goods."
At it's most basic, "Corn-Lite" means that's it's not corn-free, but also doesn't obviously contain corn. A person can be described as corn-lite, if they primarily eat a diet that is almost, but not quite corn-free.
And this is where the confusion starts. To truly define corn-lite, you also have to define corn-free. Both terms are completely subjective and yet reliant on each other, and if you talk to most medical professionals, our use of corn-lite IS corn-free just to make the waters on this topic even more muddy.
To us and our recommended support groups (Delphi & Facebook) and for our Corn-Free Foods List, our definition of what is corn-free is vastly different than you'll ever get from almost all medical professionals.
To us, corn-free means that the item is not made from, contains nothing made from, is not contaminated by corn or it's derivatives (no corntamination) in it's processing or packaging, and otherwise has no relationship with corn from it's conception to it's end product.
The only exception to that definition is in regards to animal meats & products. We consider animal meats, eggs, milk, and the like to be corn-free as long as they are processed and packaged cleanly without the use of any corn-derived products. Some people in our corn-free community do react to animal products if the animal has been fed corn; it is a rare occurrence and only among the most sensitive, so we have adopted this exception.
A truly corn-free lifestyle only contains foods and products that are as close to this definition as humanly possible.
(The use of corn in products and processing is not required to be labeled at this time, and will likely not be required to be labeled any time soon. There is also no lab testing for the presence of corn that is even close to accurate enough for those allergic to corn. The use of corn-free on labels, as far as we can tell, is completely voluntary and unregulated, and thus unreliable.)
The term corn-lite was developed with the intent to put a category on foods that aren't quite full of corn, but aren't quite safe enough for most corn allergic persons either. It is also used to describe people in the corn-free lifestyle who are able to eat slightly corny foods without noticeable ill effects. The main point of the term was to help define things for the safety of all persons within the corn-free lifestyle, much like the difference between vegetarian and vegan for example.
Corn-Lite products are any products that do not have obvious corn in the ingredients, but the product does contain trace amounts of corn.
Since there are quite a few corn derivatives that are not "obvious corn" to the uneducated and at this point of time "trace amounts of corn" is highly subjective, we could parse this term to death and create words like "Corn-Lite-Lite" or "Extremely Corn-Lite" and so on.
If you utilize my 2009 definition of corn-lite, you'll notice that derivatives such as citric acid and ascorbic acid (two very commonly used ingredients derived from corn) are also included in things to avoid for corn-lite. So products that use either of these ingredients should not be considered corn-lite, nor are products that use synonyms for obvious corn products without using the name "corn" in title.(Of course this is true as long as these questionable ingredients are derived from corn, and most of them are, even if the company says they're not - companies sadly don't always know or the person you ask may not be correctly informed.)
Synonyms for "Obvious Corn" derivatives: starch, modified starch, glucose syrup, fructose syrup, baking powder, grits, maize, zea mays, zein.
Corn-lite should also not include: iodized salt, dextrose, fructose, glucose.
Persons described as "corn-lite" are people who can eat, and/or knowingly choose to eat minor corn derivatives without noticeable health issues or without any issue at all, but must avoid the major sources of corn or obvious corn. Based on the definition of "corn-lite foods", technically a person who can eat products with unknown sourced citric acid in the ingredients listing without a problem should not be using the term corn-lite to describe themselves; however, in an effort to not invent any more words (such as Lite-corn-lite) anyone who is not eating at the corn-free level and yet must avoid foods with obvious sources of corn will be considered to be corn-lite.
In removing corn from your diet, corn-lite is generally the last stage of removal before you achieve corn-free. Those who are simply intolerant to corn may tolerate a corn-lite diet and may tolerate several corn-derivatives for years if not their entire lifetime. Most people with an actual allergy to corn do require a diet that is corn-free as defined above. Many ill-informed corn allergic persons may eat a corn-lite diet and still function in society; however these persons usually also suffer from "mysterious" symptoms and health concerns that are often relieved temporarily or kept in check by steroids, anti-inflammatory medications, or antihistamines. These persons usually find these "illnesses" or symptoms cured while on a corn-free diet.
(Just some tidbits on the use of corntamination: A web search shows that corntamination was used once in 1867 and was likely a typo. And there's a use of corntamination in 2000 as a term to mean that corn itself was contaminated. The use and definition we use was first recorded in April of 2007 on Delphi Forums. The term corn-lite as we use it is rarely used outside of the forums.)