Saturday, September 11, 2010

HFCS: Hunts & Huffington Post

In a previous post on HFCS, I quoted an extract from the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy report. It indicates the food products for which total mercury was detected, highest to lowest. (Measurements are in parts per trillion.) 

As President Obama proclaimed September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Huffington Post is not slow in having another go at two of the biggest players: Coca Cola and PepsiCo.
        ........ One of the greatest responsibilities we have as a Nation is to safeguard the health and well-being of our children.  We now face a national childhood obesity crisis, with nearly one in every three of America's children being overweight or obese.  There are concrete steps we can take right away as concerned parents, caregivers, educators, loved ones, and a Nation to ensure that our children are able to live full and active lives.  During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, I urge all Americans to take action to meet our national goal of solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.
          Childhood obesity has been a growing problem for decades.  While it has afflicted children across our country, certain Americans have been disproportionately affected.  Particular racial and ethnic groups are more severely impacted, as are certain regions of the country.  In addition, obesity can be influenced by a number of environmental and behavioral factors, including unhealthy eating patterns and too little physical activity at home and at school.
          We must do more to halt and reverse this epidemic, as obesity can lead to severe and chronic health problems during childhood, adolescence and adulthood, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and asthma.  Not only does excess weight adversely affect our children's well-being, but its associated health risks also impose great costs on families, our health care system, and our economy.  Each year, nearly $150 billion are spent to treat obesity-related medical conditions.  This is not the future to which we want to consign our children, and it is a burden our health care system cannot bear.......

Huffington Post:
How Coke & Pepsi Could Save Us From High Fructose Corn Syrup
On November 6, 1984, a bomb went off in the food industry that forever changed the course of consumption: Coca-Cola and Pepsi announced plans to stop using sugar in their soft drinks, instead replacing it with high fructose corn syrup. With the launch of two press releases, U.S. sugar consumption decreased by more than 500,000 tons a year, according to historian James Bovard, driving sugar prices so high that it wrecked the market for sugar and replaced it with a thriving marketplace for high fructose corn syrup.

Today, over twenty years later, the jury is still out on the impact of this move. While members of the Corn Refiners Association fund ads urging us to believe that high fructose corn syrup is "natural" and presents little to no risk to our health, scientific evidence, unpopular in the corn industry, continues to mount that suggests otherwise.

Then came a report from Princeton:

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. 

This creates a fascinating puzzle. The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles. 

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

Huffington Post continues:

As a result of this consumer concern, Coca Cola and Pepsi very often don't use high fructose corn syrup in the products that they manufacture and sell in other countries, as reported in the June 2009 Consumer Reports magazine. They've simply taken high fructose corn syrup out of their products in other countries (or in some cases, never used it in the first place).

In fact, Coca Cola with HFCS is not Kosher and many Jews tried to get Coke from Mexico as reported in The New York Times.

I’ve now heard this contention many times, but never more so than lately, as high-fructose corn syrup has become one of the most demonized ingredients in contemporary food culture. There’s a political angle (corn subsidies), an authenticity angle (it’s processed, very pervasive and just sounds industrial) and a paranoid angle (the entertaining conspiracy theory that the 1985 New Coke fiasco was an intentional failure, orchestrated to distract consumers from an ingredient switch in Coke Classic). The upshot is the curious celebration of sugar as natural and desirable. Pure-sugar soda fans motivate other product cults, including Passover Coke (using sugar instead of not-kosher-for-Passover corn syrup) available only around the Jewish holiday, and Dr Pepper from a particular bottler in Dublin, Tex.; Coke’s biggest rival has put out a product called Pepsi Throwback, “sweetened with natural sugar.” Somehow all the reverence for sugar manages to make high-calorie carbonated drinks sound like health food.

No amount of write ups in New York Times, Huffington Post or Publication from Princeton can match the new media of Facebook:

In May,2010 Hunts removed HFCS from its Tomato Ketchup:

New York Times reported:
But it was pleading comments like this one, from a devoted ConAgra customer, that finally persuaded Mr. Locascio, president of the meal enhancers category at ConAgra, to take action: “Hunt’s is by far the best ketchup ever, but please start making a variety without the high-fructose corn syrup,” wrote Jennifer from New Hampshire.

Early this year, she got her wish when ConAgra decided to reformulate one of its biggest brands, replacing the high-fructose corn syrup in Hunt’s ketchup with old-fashioned sugar. This month, new bottles featuring a banner proclaiming “No high fructose corn syrup” arrive in stores.

Hunt’s ketchup is among the latest in a string of major-brand products that have replaced the vilified sweetener. Gatorade, several Kraft salad dressings, Wheat Thins, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback and the baked goods at Starbucks, to name a few, are all now made with regular sugar.


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