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Mar 16, 2007 11:38 AM

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.

                            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:
                            Chicken Products
                            Fish, Seafood
                            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.

                            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 ...

                                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.