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foods you didn't realize might have HFCS

I've been counting calories recently, so I fished out the bottle of seasoned rice vinegar that's been languishing for years in my desk. I checked the calorie count, and it was higher than I expected (not high, just not as low as I expected), so I looked at the ingredient list, and it contains HFCS! Since I'm trying to avoid HFCS (almost as much for political and philosophical reasons as health reasons), when I was at the supermarket later that day I looked at a couple of other brands. One also had HFCS but the other had sugar, so I bought it to replace the HFCS brand (the "good" brand was Marukan; the "bad" brand was Nakano).

Once again, it pays to read the labels! Any other label reading surprises recently?

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  1. I read labels all the time. You'd be surprised how many foods that are packaged as "healthy" contain HFCS. For example, in Canada, there is a Blue Label line at Loblaws that is supposed to be healthier. A lot of those products contain HFCS. They even have a commercial where they make it seem as though there's no need to read their labels, because they've done the homework for you - not a chance, if you want to be an educated consumer, you have to read the labels (If you care. If you don't, that's OK too).

    Most "sports bars" or "protein bars" are laden with HFSC.

    I've never come across a brand of tofu cheese (I don't buy the stuff, but I have a family member who is vegan) that doesn't contain HFSC.

    1. Almost anything Asian has HFCS. I haven't checked, but I would think this is true of most developing nations because HFCS is so cheap and they haven't had all the obesity scares and subsequent backlash against certain foods we have had here.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Pei

        So true. I once looked at the ingredients list on the back of a package of instant ramen ... and lo and behold ... HFCS!

        It was right there with our other favorite ingredient ... MSG!

        :-)

        1. re: ipsedixit

          instant ramen has tons of oil b/c they deep fry the noodles too...

        2. re: Pei

          Since when is Japan a developing nation?

          1. re: Jennalynn

            Who said it was Japanese?

            Although I suppose Taiwan is not technically a developing nation either ...

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Okay, bad wording on my part. I said many Asian products, then seperately thought "it's probably true of a lot of developing countries in Asia and elsewhere."

        3. OK, I am willing to admit ignorance, what is HFCS?

          8 Replies
            1. re: Diane in Bexley

              High Fructose Corn Syrup.

              Not to be confused with ordinary Corn Syrup that you might have for candy making or baking.

              1. re: Jennalynn

                Which generally also contains HFCS.

                1. re: chowser

                  Dark Karo doesn't contain HFCS. Yet. The way things are going they'll probably mess that up too.
                  Why won't someone make corn syrup without the HFCS in it? I'd pay extra.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    That's good to know. I only have light and only thought to check because it came up a few months ago on these boards. I thought I'd look in Whole Foods to see if there is a light corn syrup w/out HFCS.

                    1. re: chowser

                      You can always use Lyle's Golden Syrup (imported from the U.K.) in place of Karo. No HFCS and it tastes better, anyway.

                    2. re: MakingSense

                      Try looking for Cane Syrup. If you can't find it easily, you can mail order Steen's from several Louisiana web sites.

                2. re: Diane in Bexley

                  I'm really tired...I was thinking it was hydrofluorocarbons!

                  I was trying to figure out why ramen or vinegar would be packaged under pressure....

                3. Toufayan pitas and Thomas' English Muffins have HFCS, must grocery store breads have HFCS, even the Arnold kind, which I think is really good. Bread's so easy to make, especially with a bread machine, I've started making my own.

                  1. I was very disappointed when looking at yogurts (for my daily sack lunch) to see that there were even some that had splenda - plus corn syrup. Of course the Splenda label is prominently displayed on the label.

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: Betty

                      I buy Fage Greek imported yogurt (no HFCS) and do my own add-in. Sometimes Splenda, sometimes some wonderful Sourwood Honey, sometimes jam, marmalade or preserves. For those i buy imports which have no HFCS. I try not only to be aware of HFCS but all sugar in foods. American porcessed foods are needlessy overly sweetened.

                      1. re: Candy

                        Just a reminder, though, that organic products don't have HFCS (there's no such thing as organic HFCS, since the whole point of HFCS is to use up cheap surplus corn), so there are a lot of "processed" foods that are okay.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          no such thing as "cheap surplus corn." The point of HFCS is that it's cheaper than sugar from other sources and people in the US have a near insatiable sweet tooth. They want everything to be sweet.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            I don't think that people in the US want things sweet. I think that by putting HFCS and even sugar in products people eat more because sugar makes people hungry ... eat something sweet and an hour later you are hungry.

                            That is attractive in terms of sales.

                            The better question is not what has HFCS, the better question is what DOESN'T have HFCS ... not alot.

                            This is a sight that is promoting HFCS. It has a list of products (not specific brands though) of products that contain it.
                            http://www.hfcsfacts.com/uses.html

                            I guess the gotcha's in there are things like granola bars which have an implied health image, canned soups ... come on ... who needs HFCS or sugar in soup, for sauces or condiments just assume it has HFCS ... but why do you need it in tomato sauce or paste.

                            Assume that anything labelled low-fat has HFCS.

                            I am shocked to that graham crackers have HFCS. It's another health assumption. Other crackers and potato chips.

                            Some of this isn't diet food I realize. However, pickles have HFCS.

                            Meat products listed:
                            Bacon
                            Chicken Products
                            Fish, Seafood
                            Hotdogs
                            Hams (Happy Easter

                            )

                            What is interesting about the site is that it lists the consumer benefits of HFCS and you sort of see why companies have added it ... it's not only about cheap.
                            http://www.hfcsfacts.com/benefits.html

                            They list
                            - Flavor enhancer
                            - Reduces spoilage
                            - Reduces freezer burn
                            - Keeps food moist and soft
                            - Reduces crystallization
                            - Browns baked goods better
                            - Flavors are more shelf-stable over time
                            - Lower freezing point so frozen juice drinks can be poured from the freezer and don't need to thaw
                            - Something about fermntation

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              Yeah, there is -- here's the opening paragraph in an agriculture newsletter: "For decades U.S. corn growers have faced excess production capacity and government farm programs designed to avoid surplus supplies. But for the next several years, the industry may be facing a different situation. Many grain industry analysts anticipate that, rather than surplus production capacity, the corn and feed grain industry’s challenges will be how to ration limited supplies among various users and how to increase U.S. corn production."

                              HFCS is not a natural product -- it was specifically developed as a way to utilize some of that surplus corn production. And that's why it's cheaper than sugar, despite the fact that it takes quite a bit of processing to produce it.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                Here's a blog that started a list of products with HFCS ... mostly the usual suspects ... but I'm going to have to check this out because it doesn't seem possible ... Lipton Green Tea ...
                                http://www.accidentalhedonist.com/ind...

                                OK ... I should logically know this because it is candy ... but still ... lifesavers ... that is so wrong ... somethings should be untouched ... like ... Animal Crackers

                                HFCS animal crackers in my HFCS soup ...

                                Who would guess Clamato.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Is that bottled tea? Because it's really hard to find any kind of bottled drink that doesn't have HFCS. I just bought a bunch of Glaceau Vitamin Waters in part because they're sweetened with a small amount of fructose, not HFCS.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    There are a number of bottled teas that are unsweetened. Suntory makes a good unsweetened bottled wulong (my go-to hot weather drink in Asia) and Ito-En makes an unsweetened green tea.

                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Read that quote again. The government tinkered with corn production for decades through subsidies and price supports to control surpluses. Now the reverse is true because of the demand for corn for HFCS and ethanol production. Don't kid yourself that the ethanol demand was all about alternative energy; it is being driven in great part by farm state interests. Now they are battling the import of ethanol from sugar cane from Latin America and the Caribbean.

                                  I hate HFCS. But it's a lot more complicated that a mere food product. It was developed as another way to use an agricultural product. Just as all the soy products on the market have been developed and marketed as ways to increase the consumption of soybeans - another profitable agricultural crop.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    Yeah, but if they weren't making HFCS, there would need to be even more tinkering and price supports. Whether there's technically a surplus of actual corn, the fact is that the US has the capacity to produce much more corn than it can consume, and HFCS was developed as a way to utilize some of that surplus capacity. And of course the government would rather agribusiness have a product they can sell than rely on price supports and paying for corn not to be grown.

                                    The figure I heard is that US agriculture is producing an excess of 500 calories per US resident per day. That's a lot of extra food that needs to be consumed somehow.

                                    Anyone who has watched The West Wing knows that ethanol is all about agri-politics, not alternative energy (especially since it takes huge amounts of oil to grow corn and produce ethanol, which means the actual reduction in fossil fuel usage is minimal).

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Please, please, please don't get your agricultural or energy economics from TV shows like The West Wing. Better you should pack a picnic and sit on the banks of the Mississippi and watch the barges carrying all the export grain that the US sends overseas. We're still a huge net exporter of agricultural commodites of all types.

                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                        Price supports for maize and soy bean where put in place during the Cold War when the US government wanted to maintain large supplies of strategic grains--in the hopes of winning influence from both the Soviet Union and their client states when they (or some part of them) suffered poor seasons. Or to just embarass the Soviets. Today, politics is again supporting/subsidizing grain output for bio-ethanol and biodiesal production--which is several magnitudes cheaper in Brazil where solar radiation (sunlight) levels are much higher and where sugar can be grown year-round (as opposed to one season in the US).

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          So this week some of Big Corn got upset because of the idea of Brazilian ethanol from sugar cane being imported to the US ( 3x as efficient as from corn) Lord knows where that will end up.
                                          All I want is some good corn on the cob this summer and food that isn't laced through and through with HFCS. Is that too much to ask?
                                          Sam, where will it ever end?

                                3. re: MakingSense

                                  people all over the world crave sweet. sweet used to be hard to get, but full of good things, so out on the savannah those who gorged on sweet lived longer and bred more. repeat this for a million years and you end up with a species that has a sweet tooth. a hundred years of plenty is not enough time to overwrite millions of years of evolution. ditto this for high fat content too.

                            2. re: Betty

                              this is a bit different, because it's not HFCS, but modified corn starch, I'm going crazy these days trying to find sour cream, etc without it added. I have found the odd brand, but not many.

                              1. re: pescatarian

                                Again, try an organic brand. Trader Joe's has a very good organic sour cream.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  We don't have Trader Joe's, but we do have other organic sources, so I will be checking them out more.

                                2. re: pescatarian

                                  Daisy doesn't have it and I think Breakstones is free of it too.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    Yes, I was going to suggest Daisy brand sour cream...we love it, regular and light, which I must say I found out about on one of the CH boards...along with Fage Yogurt which I LOVE and now can buy locally...soooooooooo much better for you than the nasty American brands with all their additives.

                                3. re: Betty

                                  Yeah, I saw this today -- I was in a hurry, and didn't have time to run to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, so I ran into a Ralph's (Kroger) to pick up a few things, inclding yogurt. And I noticed this, too -- Splenda and HFCS. Wow -- that's an eye opener!

                                  (I did not purchase that particular product - I have to admit, I forget which brand it was. Dannon? Yoplait?)

                                  Edit: sorry this was meant to reply to Betty's post above about the yogurt.

                                4. For a real insight to why HFCS is such a prevalent ingredient in about any processed food, no matter how simply, read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen. Bet it changes how you think about food!

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Quine

                                    Quine, I'm halfway through that book and already have decided to stop eating conventional red meat.

                                    1. re: Quine

                                      I have heard about this book and thought about picking it up. Is it entertaining as well as informative? I don't want to even bother if it is boring and dry throughout.

                                      1. re: ArikaDawn

                                        It is a good read, not dry and boring.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Ageed-and it's fascinating if you care about what you put inside your body--which clearly folks here do!

                                      2. re: Quine

                                        I just got that book, for a paper I'm writing on HFCS. Does anyone know of any other books like The Omnivore's Dilemma?

                                        1. re: Elizabeth M.

                                          In Defense of Food, Animal Vegetable Miracle. Also two movies: King Corn and Future of Food

                                      3. I was surprised by this HFCS finding. Pepperidge Farm Stuffing cubes- plain. Sometime in January a friend and I threw an impromptu T'giving dinner (neither of us got leftovers in November, and missed them), so in a time-saver effort, I went to buy a bag of stuffing cubes, plain. Lo and behold, HFCS. So, I made my own cornbread and went on from there.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cheesemonger

                                          Most processed breads in grocery stores contain HFCS and I'd assume stuffing cubes made by them would also (I've never bought them or seen the labels).

                                        2. My search for a grocery store bread without HCFS (my schedule makes it hard to get to my local bakery) is what led me to start baking my own bread. Haven't bought a loaf since mid-December.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: debbiel

                                            I don't know where you are located, but near us is a Breadsmith franchise. I know it's not locally owned, but they do bake bread fresh daily with only natural ingredients. No HFCS, no preservatives, etc. I realize home baked is wonderfull, but this is awfully darn close. And a wee bit more convenient when you decide, after leaving work, that a dinner of soup and great bread would hit the spot.

                                            1. re: debbiel

                                              I buy Vermont Bread Company breads - organic, no HFCS, no preservatives, etc from our grocery store. I can find it at the local Safeway, Whole Foods, Davids, and Giant. So I presume they're pretty prevalent? Beats having to make sandwich/toast bread every week! This way I can spend my limited bread-making time on the fun stuff.

                                              1. re: odkaty

                                                Alas, none of those brands are in my grocery store. I have actually been enoying the bread baking, so it's been okay with me.

                                              2. re: debbiel

                                                I buy Sara Lee 100% Whole Wheat. No HFCS. But some of the other Sara Lee breads have it so read the label!

                                              3. Sort of off topic but I heard on the news last night that Coke might be forced to find a substitute for corn syrup in it's soda products due to the rising price of corn because of ethanol demand. Uh, I have a suggestion. Sugar??

                                                1. Both Corn Flakes and (regular) Special K have it. I was surprised because I don't consider each to be a sweet cereal.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: nc213

                                                    I was surprised about the Special K too, but super pleased to see my over procesed teddy grahams do not contain HFCS. This by no means makes them a health food, but what the hell.

                                                  2. One acquaintance of mine used to by Kosher-for-Passover because, well, corn isn't. For example - Coke made with sugar.

                                                    1. It's not only HFCS...sodium content is outrageous as well.

                                                      1. I just noticed that Lea (or Lee?) & Perrins' Worchestshire sauce has HCFS.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: halfpint

                                                            This is why I switched to Heinz Organic.

                                                        1. Do you know that when you replaced the HFCS vinegar with a sugar version, you didn't necessarily reduce the amount of fructose in it, and may have actually increased it? HFCS is higher in fructose than regular corn syrup, but is comparable to good old sugar.

                                                          According to the Top Published Myths page of the hfcsfacts website, "Contrary to its name, HFCS is not high in fructose. In fact, the composition of HFCS is essentially 'half fructose corn syrup' which is similar to sugar. Sugar is composed of 50% fructose and 50% glucose and HFCS has either 42% or 55% fructose, with the remaining sugars being primarily glucose."

                                                          25 Replies
                                                          1. re: SuzyInChains

                                                            Yes, cane based sugar is sucrose and fructose, but 50-50%? We need to double check.

                                                            HFCS is not high in fructose? Let's check again.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              I'm not sure about this, but I believe there are different versions of HFCS ranging from around 50% fructose to more than 75%. Cane sugar is 100% sucrose, but easily breaks up into frucose and glucose. I think.

                                                              SuzyInChains, I am absolutely uncertain of the info I put here, but I would also be fairly leary of using info from the industry site.

                                                              1. re: debbiel

                                                                Whatever the composition of HFCS, the bigger question remains: Why is it showing up in everything? Lee & Perrins? Vinegar? Does bread really have to have it? Salad dressing?
                                                                Just a very few years ago, none of these products contained HFCS. Why is it necessary now?

                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                  It is frustrating, isn't it? I looked at a bottle of rice vinegar in the store today, and there it was! Corn surplus--and my take is that ag corps are cleaning up even tho farmers growing their corn continue to struggle.

                                                                  I think it would be interesting to get a sense of the number of food products that contain hfcs but did not include a sweetener 20 years ago. I don't love the idea of using it as a replacement for cane sugar, but my sense is that we are also seeing it in products that didn't have added sweeteners pre hfcs craze. That idea is even more frustrating to me.

                                                                  1. re: debbiel

                                                                    Corn prices are high now. Corn is a commodity - traded on an open market. If there were a surplus, prices would fall.
                                                                    The problem stems from a created demand. For corn products of all sorts - HFCS, snack foods, tortillas, animal feed, ethanol - and now production to meet that demand. And then greater demand as we want more of those products. Dog chasing its tail.

                                                                    I think you are exactly right that many of these products simply didn't exist 20 years ago or they didn't include sweeteners.
                                                                    A good indicator would be the sheer number of products available in an average grocery store today as compared to a store in 1987. Not counting plain meats, dairy and produce. Double? Triple? More?

                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                      Oh, sorry, I wasn't very articulate last night (and I might not be now!). I didn't mean a surplus right now, just that the system has promoted greater and greater corn production. So we find ourselves creating new ways to use it.

                                                                      In my not-particularly-successful-yet attempt to cut down on hfcs and sweeteners in general this year, I'm getting horribly aware of the hfcs presence. A good yet frustrating change in my label reading habits.

                                                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                Sam, you almost made me go in search of my college biology textbook to refresh my memory.... Instead, I googled the exact phrase "fructose content of HFCS." About five related items came up, and I wish I could provide a link to the article on thirdage.com, but it isn't working. But, yes, cane based sugar is a disaccharide, two monosacharides put together. One is fructose, one is glucose, a straight 50-50 combo.

                                                                According to this article: "High-fructose corn syrup was first produced in the late 1960s, with the introduction of a new method (enzyme-catalyzed isomerization) that changes some of the glucose in corn syrup into fructose. It's available in three grades -- HFCS-42, HFCS-55 and HFCS-90; the numbers indicate the percentage of fructose content."

                                                                Later in the article, it says that HFCS-55 is what is used in soft drinks.

                                                                1. re: clamscasino

                                                                  Thank you. But, isn't cane sugar 50% SUCROSE and 50% fructose? If cane sugar were glucose and fructose it would be essentially the same as HFCS-55 (45% glucose and 55% fructose).

                                                                  Not that it all matters to me all that much. We don't drink soft drinks, live in a sugar producing country, and generally (but obviously not completely) stay away from processed foods--in part because many of them are unavailable here.

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    Sucrose itself is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. It's the fructose component that our bodies have problems with, despite most peoples automatic assumption that fructose = fruit, and therefore must be good for us. (Wasn't that a great marketing ploy?) Fruit, in and of itself, is fine, but when we eat a lot of refined caned sugar, the fructose molecule can overwhelm the system. One study I read claimed that graphs of refined sugar consumption compared with graphs of heart disease rates over the last century showed more correlation between the two than cholesterol.

                                                                    1. re: clamscasino

                                                                      Quite right. I had to do my own homework.

                                                                      But back to my question, then, to all: If sugar from cane = sucrose = 50% glucose + 50% fructose; and if HFCS-55 = 45% glucose + 55% fructose, is that difference enough to worry about?

                                                                      Basically, is the presence of HFCS in your foods anything other than the presence of sugar--something I consider bad enough?

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Sam, there may be too many variables in the HFCS-55 versus 50/50 ratio of sucrose equation. It all depends on whether, and how they adjust the amounts when substituting HFCS for cane sugar. Glucose is metabolized by cells throughout the body, whereas fructose is metabloized mainly by the liver, where it is more likely to to result in the creation of fats. Interestingly, both molecules have the same ratios and amounts of carbon (6), hydrogen (12) and oxygen (6), but they are arranged in different ways.

                                                                        See, I did get out my college biology book...research is so much more interesting than cleaning out the fridge on a Sunday afternoon.

                                                                        1. re: clamscasino

                                                                          Yes, sugar is C6 H12 O6; and isomers if arranged a bit differently.

                                                              3. re: SuzyInChains

                                                                Suzy, that website is funded by the corn industry. Here is an enlightening fact for you, from Dr Andrew Weil (whom I trust far more than corn growers assocs, or Archer Daniels Midland):

                                                                High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a relatively recent invention of the food industry that is used to sweeten soft drinks and juices. Manufacturers began to use HFCS instead of old-fashioned corn syrup because it has a sweeter taste, blends well with other foods, maintains a longer shelf life and is cheaper. It has now become the main sweetener used in beverages. You'll also find it in processed foods ranging from salad dressings and ketchup, to jams, jellies, ice cream and many others - even bread, of all things. HFCS contains 14-percent fructose, much more than regular corn syrup, and I am concerned about its potentially disruptive effects on metabolism. The body doesn't utilize fructose well, and never before in history have people been consuming so much of it.

                                                                HFCS may be to blame, at least in part, for the current epidemic of obesity in the United States. A study published in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition cited U.S. Department of Agriculture data showing that consumption of HFCS in the United States increased by more than 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990. (Almost two-thirds of the HFCS consumed in this country is in beverages.) The researchers found that Americans over the age of 2 consume more than 300 calories per day from caloric sweeteners, one-sixth of the average total calorie consumption. Another study, in England, showed that over the course of a year obesity increased by 7.5 percent among a group of school children who continued to eat and drink as they habitually did during a study aimed at reducing soda consumption. In youngsters who gave up sodas, the rate of obesity stayed about the same. The study results were published in the April 24, 2004, issue of the British Medical Journal. HCFS may promote weight gain because it behaves in the body more like fat than glucose, the blood sugar derived from other sweet foods.

                                                                Some evidence suggests that fructose may also disturb liver function. And unlike glucose, fructose doesn't appear to set in motion the process by which the body tells us it is full. Another potential danger: a study published in the November 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that in men (but not women) fructose elevates triglycerides, blood fats that increase the risk of heart disease.

                                                                All told, HFCS is a bad actor and a marker of low-quality foods. My recommendation is to check labels and avoid any products containing it.

                                                                1. re: JaneRI

                                                                  I spoke to the author of the Nov. 2000 study and he said his study was too small to extrapolate results from - I think it only had 26 members - and that he considered it very preliminary. That Weil cites without caveat is one reason I would be suspicious of his health claims.

                                                                  1. re: Snackish

                                                                    I'm not suspicious in the least - that one small study was cited almost as an afterthought. Are you saying you're comfortable ingesting HFCS? I'm not.

                                                                      1. re: Snackish

                                                                        Snackish, I'm with you. I don't worry because our soft drink consumption is next to nil (albeit here in Colombia soft drinks are made with cane sugar); and I cook almost everything from scratch.

                                                                  2. re: JaneRI

                                                                    Are you sure they use HFCS ins England? They don't on the Continent, and the jams I have that are imported from the UK are swetened with sugar, not HFCS.

                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      Pikawicca, I don't believe I mentioned the UK, did I? As I said in an earlier post (re Asia) I thought we Americans were the only ones stupid enough to wind up w/this poison in our foods (and we've paid the corn industry millions for the privilege).

                                                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                                                        Perhaps I was confused by your mention of a study of childhood obesity in England.

                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                          I was quoting Dr Weil, I didn't type all that out myself. I reread, and I would take that to mean there IS HFCS in the UK, even if it's just in soda - perhaps imports of Coke & Pepsi?

                                                                          Suzi, I'm not aware of any incidents involving his Foundation - I'll have to go look for that.

                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                        They hardly ever use HFCS in England. Even Coke doesn't have HFCS there.

                                                                        1. re: Elizabeth M.

                                                                          There's a European quota on corn syrup, that's intended to protect locally grown beet sugar. Overall sweetener intake is not all the different between the US and UK (and other European countries) There's a recent article on BBC online news that blames childhood obesity in the UK on sweetened drinks and salt.

                                                                          paulj

                                                                          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/725...
                                                                          'children eating a salty diet tended to drink more, including more fattening, sugary soft drinks.'

                                                                          1. re: Elizabeth M.

                                                                            When I was in the UK, many soft drinks included glucose-fructose syrup. I think that it might be the same thing.

                                                                        2. re: JaneRI

                                                                          You may trust Weil, but after reading about his five year deal with drugstore.com and the incidents involving his "Foundation", I can't take anything he says seriously.

                                                                          But he does say that "HFCS contains 14-percent fructose, much more than regular corn syrup." Um, that's how it gets its name - it is high fructose corn syrup - a corn syrup that is higher in fructose than original corn syrup. And cane sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, so I don't understand his comment about it "behaving more like fat than glucose, the blood sugar derived from other sweet foods." Don't many of these food contain sucrose if not HFCS? That sounds like a intentially convoluted sentence to me: The bad part of HFCS is worse for you than the good part of the sugar in sweet foods, ignoring the fructose element of sucrose.

                                                                      3. As to why HFCS is showing up in all kinds of stuff, even vinegar....my guess is it evens out the inconsistencies of savory/strong flavors (or the makers believes it does). Takes the edge off. Haven't you ever seen a chef toss in a teaspoon or less of sugar in a savory dish/ sauce...same idea. Same works for sweet things...a dash of salt is sometimes added. Any way, that's my guess.

                                                                        1. The result of the use of HFCS in everything is that people now seem drawn to sweet flavors in general. Even in "healthy" foods. Honey mustard sauces on meats. Raspberry vinegar salad dressings. Calorie-heavy coffee concoctions. Breakfast and power bars with chocolate chips. Twenty types of flavored yogurt for every plain one. Balsamic everything. Every product has something added to set it apart. The "value added" is always sweet. Fruit, honey, sugar in some form. Feeding America's sweet tooth.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                            i agree with americans' seemingly insatiable sweet tooth, but hfcs dramatically increases shelf-life, especially in baked goods.

                                                                            personally, other than the most simple products like pasta and kashi cereal, i don't buy any processed foods. salad dressing, soup, boxed mixes of stuff, etc. all that can be made for pennies compared to the bottle or can full of ingredients i can't pronounce and don't want to consume.

                                                                          2. Excuse my ignorance, but what are the "political and philosophical reasons" for avoiding the use of HFCS. I'm not trying to pick a fight -- I really don't know.

                                                                            30 Replies
                                                                            1. re: River Rat

                                                                              the homogenization of the american diet, putting the screws to farmers, agribusiness and its increasing chokehold on the american food market, genetically modified crops, the ever-narrowing of crop gene pools, the stunning amount of processed sugar consumed by americans ever year, and its adverse health effects, it's a long list...

                                                                              here are a few links to get you started:

                                                                              http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfoo...

                                                                              http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlin...

                                                                              http://www.thenutritionreporter.com/f...

                                                                              interestingly, one of these articles is from 1995. these alarm bells are not new, but this stuff is in more food than ever.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                While I agree with your summation of the issues, I'd like to point out that Weston A Price is a site promoting its own rather radical food agenda -- I don't consider articles on that site to be a reliable source for unbiased information.

                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                  h-noodle, people largely eat only a few of the crops available. Those few crop gene pools are narrowing, but perhaps for reasons that are not so obvious: farmers have dropped many traditional varieties because of the (private finanacial) advantages of modern ones. We do a lot of work, however, to collect and maintain traditional germplasm. Most GM crops so far either have the pest repellent Bt gene or have resistance to glyphosphate herbicides. Both increase safety and decrease costs (due to reduced pesitcide use) to even poor, third world small farmers. American farm and food policies long ago put the screws to small family farmers (like my family). Those policies have supported and subsidized US large farmers at huge loss to small poor farmers in the developing regions.

                                                                                  I fully agree, however, about American diets, agribusiness' chokehold, and the amount of sugar consumed.

                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                    sam, you know gm foods are controversial, it wasn't a personal attack.

                                                                                    80% of the calories most people now consume are from 4 food products: corn, wheat, rice and soy. an alarming amount of those calories come from sugar. the average american consumes about 150 pounds of sugar per year. more than half that now comes from hfcs.

                                                                                    80% of the food processed and sold in this country is produced by just 4 manufacturers. you bet your bottom dollar they're saving a TON of money with hfcs.

                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                      Hmmm ... I'm assuming that the 80 percent includes grains that are consumed second hand (by eating grain-fed meat). Does that also include dairy products from grain-fed dairy cattle and eggs from grain-fed hens?

                                                                                      I suspect my caloric ratio is somewhat different than that, but that's because I don't buy a lot of processed food and most of the fat I use is olive oil (even a small amount of fat is a proportionately high percentage of calories consumed).

                                                                                      And really, is that percentage that different from traditional diets that were (and are) based heavily on a staple grain (rice in Asia, wheat in Europe, corn in the Americas) for a large percentage of calories, especially since veggies don't have many calories relative to grains.

                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                        Ruth, don't fool yourself into thinking that the grains eaten in a more pure form in other countries have ANY relationship to the amount of "corn" (in highly processed forms) that we Americans take in.

                                                                                        1. re: JaneRI

                                                                                          I'm not. I'm just saying that the stat "80 percent of calories come from four grains" is in and of itself, meaningless. Most of the calories in most people's diets come from grains.

                                                                                          Also, the conclusions you can draw from that stat are different depending on what your concern is. Is it health? Agribusiness and monocropping? Etc.

                                                                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        I question your assertion that 80% of our calories come from 4 vegetable sources. We eat way too much meat and dairy for that to be true.

                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                          it's not my assertion, it's michael pollan's.

                                                                                          ruth lafler:

                                                                                          my diet isn't structured that way either, but a report released this week by the cdc states that fewer than 30% of americans are meeting their "5-a-day" veg/fruit reccomendation. as for traditional diets, grain consumption certainly depended upon affluence. those people were still eating many more varieties of those and a much wider array of fruits and vegetables than typically eaten today. 2 most frequently consumed american vegetables are potatoes (as french fries) and tomatoes (as pizza sauce and salsa).

                                                                                          hfcs stated sneaking into products in the early 80s when processing methods made it cheaper than sugar. maybe my tin-foil hat is on just too tightly, but that strangely coincides with the beginning of the obesity problem in the united states.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I'm agree with most of your basic points -- I'm just not sure that the "80 percent of calories" stat is meaningful in any way.

                                                                                            As I said, "percent of calories" is distorts towards high-calorie foods. A serving of vegetables is defined as half a cup. On the average, half a cup of veggies is less than 50 calories: broccoli: 23; raw carrots: 24, cooked carrots, 35, etc. So five servings of veggies, depending on what they are, could be well under 250 calories. That's about 12 percent of the "standard" 2000 calorie a day diet for women (and 10 percent of the 2500 calorie diet for men). If you're not counting the calories from any fats (butter, oil, cheese, etc.) used in the preparation of the vegetables, since those calories come from different sources, it takes a *lot* of vegetables to get anywhere near a significant proportion of your calorie intake. Even a 1000 calories of potatoes or sweet potatoes -- if you don't count the butter, sour cream, oil from frying, etc. -- would be a lot of potatoes! On the other hand, half a cup of cooked rice is about 100 calories. If you eat twice as much by volume of rice than of veggies, you're getting four times as many calories, or the ratio of 80 percent to 20 percent. Unless you grow your own, veggies are a lot more expensive than grains; thus most people -- now and historically -- eat a much higher quantity of grains than veggies.

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                              The daily per capita caloric intake in the developing world: rice (45%), wheat (29%), maize (11%). The other 15% comes from cassava, soy beans, potatoes, millet, sorghum, and beans.

                                                                                              This is where calories come from across all of the developing world. It is not an average diet.

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                pollan's salient point here was the current lack in biodiversity represented in this calorie consumption. most of us probably eat just one or two types of corn, as opposed to likely dozens of varities eaten by our grandparents. our grain-fed livestock is eating in an equally narrow scope, rather than grazing and pecking as they were designed. but i didn't want to get too sidelined into that, or it would get deleted.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  "As I said, "percent of calories" is distorts towards high-calorie foods."

                                                                                                  I believe that's the point.....the bottom line is even our PERCENT of calories sh/be in favor of nutrient-dense things like vegs, fruit & high quality protein.

                                                                                                2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  I can find nowhere that Pollan claims we consume 80% of our total calories from these four vegetable sources. Cite, please.

                                                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                    ny times sunday magazine, maybe 6 weeks ago.

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      I went in for allergy testing (skin prick test) last year at 39 years old and was informed I was highly allergic to wheat and corn ( as well as milk and soy). My Dr.s office handed me pamphlets on each of the items and the Foods to Avoid with Corn was a virtual novel .You would not believe how many foods HFCS invades. I was told to avoid licking envelopes! I basically laughed it off as being a far too unrealistic diet (seriously imagine not being able to eat any foods that contain HFCS, wheat or gluten, dairy and soy, not flippin possible!).

                                                                                                      1. re: EAH

                                                                                                        of course it's possible. so you're basically going to ignore your doctor's advice, instead of managing your health so that you feel better? good luck with that.

                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                          I agree with HNoodle--It's super possible.

                                                                                                          I just did a 3 week detox program (no processed foods), no wheat, gluten, (added) sugar, or dairy--per Dr. Mark Hyman, whom one can find on PBS.

                                                                                                          I enjoyed all sorts of whole grains; organic( ideally that would be local organic) fruits; herbs and veg; wild caught salmon, lamb, chicken--all organic and humanely raised--and many other delights! I felt physically great and many folks are complimenting my vibrance and skin tone (which I never t were neverlacking in vibrance--so it's only getting better!)

                                                                                                          On top of that, I have the satisfaction of supporting a little local health food store (who's prices are less than WF-go figure) and who have already come to know me.

                                                                                                          Not only is it simple, it's wonderful!

                                                                                                          I felt great and lost weight. I liked it so much I added a couple of additional weeks on.

                                                                                                          EAH--If you're allergic to some foods--which I never thought I was-but lo and behold I have achey knees since I've added even (very) whole wheat back--it makes a lot of sense to look into eliminating some of them. You may just love it!

                                                                                                          1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                                                                            I read his latest book (Supermetabolism I think?) and thought it was great.

                                                                                                            1. re: JaneRI

                                                                                                              Me too-I know lot's of folks advocate similar things--but he puts it all together so that it's interexsting and "actionable!!"!

                                                                                                              1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                                                                                Exactly what I liked - it takes a lot of information you already knew, but puts it all together well.

                                                                                                            2. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                                                                              Well Seaside,
                                                                                                              You've shamed me into giving it a test run. I will give it a month and see if I feel a difference. But you have to admit doing without any and all items containing wheat, corn,soy and dairy for a 3 week detox program is a little easier than doing without ....forever. Especially when you are a chowhound ( Think no chinese food, italian food/pasta, BBQ sauces, etc etc etc....)

                                                                                                              1. re: EAH

                                                                                                                Oh-no shame intended EAH!!

                                                                                                                Good luck with the program. and yes, I admit it, the doing without--maybe forever--doesn't sound good. I try to see it as adding in all the things I hadn't eaten much of and now enjoy so much.

                                                                                                                Do try Dr Hyman for great ways to incorporate all the tasty new flavors.

                                                                                                                I'm now addicted to cilantro and watercress--in fact I'm having a yummy salad with more differing greens than I can enumerate, beans, all colors of pepper, EVOO, white balsamic--it goes on and on.

                                                                                                                The veggies really are more flavorful as organic. I brought such a a salad to two gtherings this past week and everyone raved about how flavorful they were.

                                                                                                                And here's one for you: toss grape tomatoes in EVOO, S&P and roast. They are transcendent and any CHer woudl be delighted with them.

                                                                                                                Also good roasted under the salmon you may be having for dinner--or roasted with asparagus!

                                                                                                                Good luck!

                                                                                                          2. re: EAH

                                                                                                            The local newspaper is printed with soy-based ink and they are so proud of themselves because it's so "good for the environment." It gets everything from our hands to the kitchen island to all the furniture filthy because it rubs off on whatever it touches.
                                                                                                            Isn't soy a fairly common allergen? Does the ink cause problems for people allergic to it?
                                                                                                            Corn and soy are hidden everywhere. The marketers have sold the concept that they are healthy and good for everyone.

                                                                                                          3. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                            Yeah, the NY Times is an unbiased source....

                                                                                                            I dont read labels, except when buying hot sauces(they have to be just peppers,maybe some carrots, and vinegar).

                                                                                                            I do not concen myself with HFCS, and I am not concerned at all with the political, or philosophical issues some may have., thats their agenda not mine. I eat what I want, and dont worry about it.

                                                                                              2. re: River Rat

                                                                                                Read the book The Omnivore's Dilemma. The corn industry has rammed corn in many guises down our throats. To add insult to injury, corn COSTS the US taxpayer billions of dollars in the form of subsidies to farmers, who grow it for the profit of a just a handful of US companies (like Archer Daniels Midland).

                                                                                                Also, there is so much corn now all of your conventional beef is fed corn - their stomachs are not designed to process a grain like corn, but grass. The meat that comes of grain-fed cattle is 500x higher in saturated fat than grass-fed beef, and missing key essential fatty acids that actually help humans keep their weight down (GLA & CLA).

                                                                                                1. re: JaneRI

                                                                                                  Here is a good article about HFCS. It is interesting to note that since it has been
                                                                                                  put into our food supply, starting in the 1970's, the obesity rate of the US has
                                                                                                  gone through the roof.

                                                                                                  Look at all the processed foods we feed our children now. We're just priming them for obesity and diabetes.

                                                                                                  http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlin...

                                                                                                  1. re: kkak97

                                                                                                    I think our obesity problems are probably more related to a sedentary lifestyle than to any one food ingredient. The rise of obesity also coincided with the development of personal computers and the popularity of video games and cable TV.

                                                                                                    1. re: Snackish

                                                                                                      Absolutely! PCs, video games and TVs. Parents fears leading to kids no longer hearing "get outside and play!". Cows being fed corn instead of grass (beef now has 500X more saturated fat than grass-fed). Many, many issues have come together. But I do think HFCS (and many other corn-based additives) play a significant role.

                                                                                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                                                                                        Where do you get the statistic that grain fed has 500 times more saturated fat??

                                                                                              3. Now I'm confused. I thought if I just checked to make sure high fructose wasn't one of the ingredients, I was all set. I just found a "natural" granola that I like and the ingredients include pineapple syrup, evaporated cane juice, pear concentrate and maltodextrin. Are any of those ingredients on the "no-no" list?

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: bearzie

                                                                                                  No, those are fine. What in this thread had you confused?

                                                                                                2. Freaking horseradish for god's sake! Talk about things that aren't supposed to be sweet! I had to look through about 10 bottles to find some without HFCS.

                                                                                                  1. Heard on a podcast from Lime.com today. Their consumer products expert predicted that with ethanol demand driving up the cost of corn and by extension, HFCS, we may start to see large food manufacturers switch back to sugar because it will be more cost effective.
                                                                                                    He claims that Kraft has switched back to sugar in a handful of its products already. Anyone know if this (especially the latter) is true?

                                                                                                    1. Fat-Free Half and Half has HFCS just give me the natural fat.

                                                                                                      1. It takes my DH and I hours to shop because we meticulously read every...single..label on every product we buy. I must admit a few years back I never read anything, I just threw "healthy" things in my basket and went on my way. My DH is a stickler for reading labels and we both now are very cautious to put anything in the basket without giving it a good review. I shouldn't be but I am shocked at some of the *shit* that goes into some of these products..

                                                                                                        Long live organic, homegrown vegetables.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: andlulu

                                                                                                          i agree that label reading is the only way to survive in this market onslaught of overly processed "food" products. sometimes it's obvious that the food is made of junk, but who would have thought that wheat bread has HCFS? or hydrogenated oils in cookies?
                                                                                                          i suppose the labels are there only to preven future law suits. not everyone reads them or understands them, though. the system encourages ignorance but doesn't protect those that are ignorant.
                                                                                                          "whole grain" frosted flakes, 100 calorie cookie packs, low-fat yoghurt with more junk than a candy bar -yeah right! so healthy! just another ruse to sell more products. and one notices, or at least I do, that the mere ingestion of processed foods or soda makes you fell like eating more and more and more...very sad.

                                                                                                        2. HFCS is nasty and pervasive in the industrial food chain. We stop buying products that contain it - that is a real challenge but there some responsible suppliers still around. It would be great if there was a serious rejection of anything with HFCS to hopefully change the industrial food system.

                                                                                                          1. When will food processors start labeling their non-HFCS foods as such. "NO HFCS!", "HFCS Free!". I hate searching for an HFCS-free loaf of bread, package of buns, bottle of catsup, yogurt, etc., etc., etc.

                                                                                                            I would think there is no downside. I don't think the health unconscious folks would avoid a "No HFCS" product. But plenty of folks who are trying to avoid the stuff would flock to a No HFCS label.

                                                                                                            This is easy money for the food industry. No takers? Afraid of ADM and the Corn Lobby?

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: RichR

                                                                                                              Buy organic -- there's no such thing as organic HFCS. But also, you could buy less pre-packaged foods. One reason many non-sweet pre-packaged foods (like bread) use HFCS is that it extends shelf life. If you buy fresh food, then fewer worries about HFCS.

                                                                                                              1. re: RichR

                                                                                                                I'm starting to see a lot of "cane sugar" or "sweetened with sugar" labels--Hain's "natural" soda switched from HFCS within the last couple of years, I believe.

                                                                                                              2. My boyfriend and I were doing some baking today, and he was looking at a bottle of Master's Choice vanilla extract and he noted that there's corn syrup in it. I examined another bottle we had of McCormick "Pure" vanilla extract and noted that it has corn syrup in it too. Is this common? I feel kind of deceived, especially because the damn vanilla is so expensive.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                                                                                                                  Vanilla extract should only have vanilla pods and vodka.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                                                    Well, I'll be switching to a different brand. I wonder when these brands started putting corn syrup into the vanilla. Not like the prices have gone down or anything. Just needless filler, I guess, based on what you said, Kelli2006. I'm annoyed! Is there anything they won't put corn syrup in?

                                                                                                                2. Much to my surprise, the gari (pink pickled ginger) I purchased has HFCS. And its one of the few prepared things I buy!