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May 21, 2010 03:21 AM

Goodbye HFCS

Hi Everyone! This article states the Hunts ditched HFCS...what other food product has jumped on the bandwagon? And, do you buy anything that has the sweetener?

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  1. You pretty much have no choice but to buy stuff with HFCS in it. It's everywhere.


    7 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Absolutely untrue. You just need to know how to read labels.

      For example, Welch's Squeezable jelly (grape and strawberry) comes in regular and "low-sugar" versions. The "low sugar" version has... you guessed it, ACTUAL sugar, not HFCS. I don't understand the marketing intent there, if you're not using HFCS why on earth wouldn't you want to make a big deal of it?! But there you go.

      Barbecue sauces are another example of a place where if you look hard enough you can find non-HFCS versions. I think Open Pit and Bullseye are two sauces that don't use HFCS, but don't quote me on that.

      Bottled salad dressing is yet another example- if you spend enough time looking at labels, you'll find at least a few brands with no HFCS.

      Many soft drink companies are jumping on the bandwagon, Pepsi and Coke both make a HFCS-free formula. 7-up and Doctor Pepper as well (not sure which bottler owns those brands.) They are not always commonly available, so when yuo find them, stock up.

      And when it comes to ketchup, as reported here in past years, Heinz was there first- the organic and also Canadian formula both use sugar instead of HFCS and it makes a noticeable difference in flavor.

      1. re: Davwud

        Untrue. I purchase NOTHING that contains HFCS or any other corn sugar, for that matter. Read the labels.

        1. re: ChefJune

          Same here...I'm with Chris VR and ChefJune...nothing with HFCS comes into my mouth...and I'm getting that way with refined sugar too...just lost my brother to cancer on May 2nd...the more I read about cancer, the more I learn that sugar FEEDS cancer.

          1. re: Val

            oh, Val, i'm so sorry for your loss :( i hope you're holding up okay.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              thanks...I could end up with this disease too, our father died of colon cancer and now my brother...after we all lost Sam to pancreatic cancer and then my brother was sick..ugh...please people...we love to eat awesome-tasting foods but sheesh...some of those foods are making us very very sick...*BALANCE* is important. GHG, did you get my e-mail from today?

        2. re: Davwud

          @Davwud, i know it's already been said but it bears repeating - you absolutely DO have a choice not to buy products that contain HFCS. just read labels. there are alternatives, and yes, some of them may cost a bit more, but for those of us who choose to avoid HFCS (and any other ingredients we deem undesirable), it's absolutely worth the added expense.

          1. re: Davwud

            I disagree with this as well. I don't even have a huge food budget and I still manage to largely avoid HFCS (I'm not swearing we NEVER ingest any, but it's not much of at all.) First, I don't buy very much processed foods. And there ARE alternate choices available for almost every product out there that does contain HFCS. As so many others already said, it's just a matter of reading labels - which I always do.

          2. there's a discussion on the general foods board about hunts eliminating HFCS:

            1. There are also discussions on other boards about the general subject: Looking into the often unexamined anti-HFCS obsession; economic reasons why HFCS is now used more heavily in North America than elsewhere; its common occurrence in natural foods (if you literally want to avoid all fructose and glucose, you must avoid many ripe fruits and vegetables, for starters -- to say nothing of honey, a natural fructose-glucose syrup containing additional nutrients and flavor); reasons why sugars of all kinds creep into packaged foods that don't need them (basically, consumers insist on it, in taste tests); scapegoating of HFCS for the much more general issue of heavy average sugar intake and attendant preventable diseases, all of which occur with or without HFCS; and the effect of this scapegoating in distracting people from thoughtful attention to all of the more serious issues mentioned.

              For example:

              37 Replies
              1. re: eatzalot

                Take a look at graphs showing usage of HFCS from the 1970's to the present and then look at graphs for obesity in the US for the same time period. Karo syrup used to sit in cupboards and see occasional use, now most people consume the contents of at least a bottle a month.

                I for one am glad to see pure cane sugar make a comeback. I think the taste difference is noticeable. Responsible eating is necessary but many things that people consumed suddenly switched from sugar to HFCS. It may be that quantities that people consumed did not change as much as the ingredients.

                1. re: SanityRemoved

                  "Take a look at graphs showing usage of HFCS from the 1970's to the present and then look at graphs for obesity in the US for the same time period."


                  And your point is?

                  During the same time period the percentage of the Asian population also increased in the U.S. Is that also to blame for obesity in children?

                  Correlation does not equal causation.

                  But who am I to argue ... never let real science get in the way of a Chowhound beat down on HFCS.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I liked this statement better. "most people consume the contents of at least a bottle a month."

                    Of the dozen or so Americans I know very well, none of them do this.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      Better yet, I'd like to know where I can actually buy a bottle of pure HFCS. Now, that would be sweet (pun intended).

                      Are there coupons for such bottles? Do they go on sale? Maybe in bulk? Costco?

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Can you actually buy HFCS in something smaller than a 55-gallon drum?

                      2. re: Davwud

                        The content I spoke of was the amount of HFCS that Americans willingly and unwillingly consume in a month, not ingesting a bottle of Karo over a months period. The American consumption of corn syrup quickly rose in the mid 1980's. If you didn't read the label of an item that you had purchased for years, you wouldn't know that HFCS had replaced other ingredients. Just like there was no mention of MSG being used until people became concerned about it.

                        1. re: SanityRemoved

                          "The American consumption of corn syrup quickly rose in the mid 1980's."

                          Yes, but why? The US government had previously created tariffs against the import of low cost cane sugar from Brazil and the Caribbean (conspiracy theorists contend this was done for the benefit of seven families that control most of the sugar production in the southern US, but I've never seen corroboration). HFCS was seen as a low cost alternative to cane sugar by many food companies, not just Coke and Pepsi. So, naturally, HFCS consumption rose, but not necessarily by consumer choice.

                          Today, the government again meddles in the market with its ethanol subsidy. The corn crop gets diverted into biofuels instead of food, and suddenly, HFCS is not the cheap alternative. Companies start offering new formulations in response. If the government ever realized that buying ethanol from Brazil at about 1/5th the price of domestic ethanol made more economic sense, you'd see the price of HFCS plummet, and it would start reappearing in many foods. (And please note that both the sugar and ethanol tariffs have been supported by politicians of all stripes - especially a big yellow on down their backs - so I blame all politicians in general, and no party in particular for this fiasco.)

                          1. re: FrankD

                            Right, I agree.

                            I'm glad that consumers are being given a choice. I'd prefer not to spend a quarter of my grocery shopping devoted to reading labels, but if that's what it takes, so be it.

                    2. re: SanityRemoved

                      Obesity is increasing in all countries, not just the US. My guess is that the obesity is increasing because of something other than HFCS.

                      1. re: queencru

                        more access to food. better transport of food. a smaller global marketplace

                    3. re: eatzalot

                      The ... heck ... with science.

                      HFCS tastes disgusting. It is more cloyingly sweet than corn syrup.

                      If you are reading the threads you know that HFCS is not a natural. No product with the word 'organic' on the label is allowed to have HFCS as an ingredient. So that statement is really misleading.

                      But all science and health issues aside ... it tastes GROSS ... gross, gross, gross.

                      I am currintly, literally, living in the middle of sugar cane fields in Guatemala. EVERYTHING here is made with sugar. It is like taking a trip back to the days before HFCS.

                      The one comment I keep repeating over and over and over as I write about eating here, is that everything tastes so much better. Food is not as achingly sweet. There a more refinded taste. Yoplait is AMAZING, not like the icky junk sold in the US Even cheap white supermarket bread has a different taste and texture to it. .

                      I do have to say though that based on my recent experience here, on a very high level you can't blame it for health problems any more than you can blame sugar. It has no scientific basis and is only my own speculation.

                      Here's my post about a local funeral I attended last night and if you scroll to the bottom some comments about the health situation here. Surprisingly in a place with no HFCS, infrequent fast food meals, little processed food, there are almost as many diabetes clinics as Starbucks coffee shops in the US.

                      I've been surprised about one thing. In the US, I stay away from sweets as much as possible. Once I start, I crave more. I've found going back to regular sugar, whatever it is in my brain that wants more, gets turned off. I am happy with a single glass of Coke or Pepsi and dont want to drink the bottle or get the munchies.

                      The only ,reason for HFCS is there's a lot of corn grown in the US and it is a way to use a cheap, heavily subsidized crop. I have some concerns as the corn industry seems intent on taking over the banana republics replacing the ancient, earth-friendly and more nutritionally balanced milp fields. As this link says

                      "In a milpa field there a dozen crops at once: maize, avocados, multiple kinds of squash, chiles (hot pepper chilli), beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, camotes (sweet potatoes), jicama (a tuber also known as sengkwang, yam bean, singkamas, Mexican turnip), amaranth (also called pigweeds) and mucuma (a tropical legume). “Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary.” said Charles C. Mann in his book 1491. H. Garrison Wilkes, a maize researcher at University of Massachusetts in Boston is quoted in the same book, “The milpa is one of the most successful human inventions ever created"

                      However, the corn industry is undercutting local prices and the smaller farms are going under.

                      "But, how can the local milpa farmer compete against the giant industrial farmers of the U.S.A and their subsidized crops? Worst still is the fact that this giant industrial farmers use gene-altered maize seeds which have been manipulated to NOT grow maize again from the harvested crop. What a twisted business model that is and it will prove to be disastrous business practice for the future of human kind."

                      So even as more people reject HFCS, it seems King Corn is looking to the future on where to peddle its crop.

                      But you can disregard all that because HFCS ... gag me with a corncob ... yuck... taste-wise

                      1. re: rworange

                        It's one thing to slam HFCS because of personal preferences (e.g. taste, texture, politics, etc.), but it's quite another to slam HFCS due to quack science.

                        Frontal lobotomy anyone?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Unfortunately the corn industry has spent a lot of money on public relations and studies to "prove" that HFCS is safe.

                          Getting someone to pay for an unbiased scientific study most likely will not occur in our lifetimes. There's too much money involved to see that happen. Cane sugar industry on one side, corn industry on the other.

                          1. re: SanityRemoved

                            Trust me, an equal if not more money has spent on trying to "prove" that HFCS is anything but safe.

                            Honestly, read and eat what you want. Just refrain from telling others what to eat based on innuendo, hypotheses, and general (dis)belief.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Are you making the case that HFCS is healthy, natural or desirable to consume?

                              1. re: chicgail

                                None of the above.

                                I'm ambivalent about HFCS. I just think if you want to consume it, you shouldn't be turned off by fear-mongers who think HFCS is the doupleganger of tobacco.

                                And, similarly, if you don't want to consume it, you shouldn't go around spouting shaky science as if it were established law like Newton's E=mc² .

                                  1. re: bhoward

                                    A mixed metaphor (like a Yogiism, or an old friend's habit of saying things like "that's the way the cookie bounces").

                                    But ipsedixit's point is good, and not just for this particular topic. Another irony I didn't list below is people perceiving HFCS as either less "natural" or less proven in humans than refined cane sugar -- even though HFCS or slight variants (as "corn syrup" or "glucose syrup") have been used in foods about as long as refined sucrose. Both were unknown to most of our ancestors, many of whom did, however, experience honey, a natural concentrated sweetener far older then either; ironically also a natural form of HFCS.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Speaking of junk science. That would be Einstein.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        "if you don't want to consume it, you shouldn't go around spouting shaky science as if it were established law"

                                        God knows there's way too much of that going on, you're right. What's wrong with having the courage of your convictions and not having to validate your opinions with something you read in a tabloid while waiting in line at the grocery, or even more valid, on the internet?

                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                            because convictions based on lies serve no one?

                                            1. re: thew

                                              Can one of you who seem to be defending the use of HFCS explain why you think it is a good thing and why it should be so ubiquitous in so many food products?

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                I try to minimize HFCS because of the types of products it is in, overly processed foods. No study I've read has convinced me yet that it, in itself, is any worst for you than sugar, eg. Oreos with HFCS aren't worst for you than Oreos w/ sugar. Taste is a different issue, as rworange has said. I don't think anyone has said it is a good thing and should be in so many food products, just that there isn't proof that it's worst than naturally occurring sugars in these processed foods. That said, I still reserve judgment on it since it took them so long to figure out that trans fats are bad for us. It's easy enough to avoid for me, or at least minimize.

                                                1. re: chicgail

                                                  i'm not defending it. i'm just against bad science

                                          2. re: chicgail

                                            what makes natural somehow better?

                                            1. re: thew

                                              I didn't say natural was somehow better. It's the HFCS folks who tell us that this processed product is natural ("it's made from corn!"), and perfectly healthy to consume "in moderation."

                                              I wouldn't drink petroleum, even when it's refined, but it's natural.

                                              My comment was in response to a poster's comment that "an equal if not more money has spent on trying to "prove" that HFCS is anything but safe. Honestly, read and eat what you want. Just refrain from telling others what to eat based on innuendo, hypotheses, and general (dis)belief."

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                "Natural" as a marketing catch phrase has been visibly abused for so long in the US, in so many kinds of products, as to rob the word of real meaning in that context, and to make discounting it a sort of basic test of common sense.

                                                Other common sense, and a little real reading, argue -- I think many people realize this already, and more will -- that advising others based on "innuendo, hypotheses, and general (dis)belief" also describes disparaging HFCS on the basis of containing fructose or glucose, but failing to note that fresh fruits do too, not to mention honey. Or selectively disparaging HFCS on the basis of obesity and other longterm health effects, as if other processed sugars lacked such effects. Or complaining about gratuitous sugars in processed foods (including sauces) without recognizing that this happens because consumers consistently prefer it when tested, and buy more of those products, rewarding their makers. The reality is more complex, and some of its factors much closer to home, than fads and scapegoats convey.

                                                1. re: eatzalot

                                                  >>> Or complaining about gratuitous sugars in processed foods (including sauces) without recognizing that this happens because consumers consistently prefer it when tested, and buy more of those products, rewarding their makers.

                                                  Although we MAY be saying the same thing, I had no choice when all that HFCS or sugar started being added to foods.

                                                  You did make me think though. I have been wondering why I can drink soda or beverages with sugar in Guatemala without the same effect as in the US ... which is I get hungry and crave more food.

                                                  The thing is, the American diet is so totally saturated with unnecessary sweetners that is may have a drug effect ... like crack we want more. Calling desserts as addictive as crack might not just be fanciful.

                                                  While I avoided sweet stuff for the most part in the US, I ate out a lot. That means the hamburger bun or sandwich bread probably had some sweeteners and there's a long list of hidden sweetners in so many things.

                                                  For over a month now, when I have sugar, it is obvious, not hidden, because everything is made from scratch. So I avoid the sweet rolls and colas and bananas( if extramsugar is added to them)

                                                  Yes there are natural sugars in fruits, but seriously, you are not getting the same intense quantity as something loaded with sugar.

                                                  Again, this is only me and I've been mulling it over.

                                                  In terms of HFCS, while 'real reading', whatever that means, COULD lead to different conclusions, I'm sorry, over the years we have been convinced by the scientific community of the safety of things ... scoffed at for not accepting the latest and greatest.

                                                  Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me ...what ... more than a 100 times ... I would be a fool to embrace the safety of HFCS.

                                                  Is it the sole villan in today's sad state of health. Nope.

                                                  But at this point the scientific community is going to have to do better to convince me to accept something new. I know there are a lot of sincere good scientists out there ... but you know the saying about one rotten apple ... there have been one two many rotten apples in the barrels these days and the scientific community should do much more to police themselves if they want people to believe them again.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    " I had no choice when all that HFCS or sugar started being added to foods." Nor I, but the point remains. Food processors adjust recipes to sell, and sweet sells, even where home cooks would never think to add it. (In that respect manufacturers reflect demand, so the gratuitous sugars in foods reveal a deeper factor, not affected by phasing out the HFCS as proclaimed in this topic's title.)

                                                    "Calling desserts as addictive as crack might not just be fanciful." Maybe not!

                                                    "Yes there are natural sugars in fruits, but seriously, you are not getting the same intense quantity as something loaded with sugar." Actually rworange, it's not so much me as standard data that assert this point, which apparently many people don't realize. USDA data bases for instance are fairly serious, and they summarize what's also on product packaging (in the nutritional analysis): carbonated soft drinks (like colas) run around 40g sugars per 12-ounce (350ml) serving. Orange juice has about the same concentration of sugars, grape juice almost 50% higher. (In fact, natural sugar mix in many ripe fruits is nearer to HFCS than table sugar.)

                                                    My intent was never to advocate for HFCS, but to advocate against misconceptions and oversimplifications that plague this and other food health questions. Mencken put it better. IIRC he wrote "For every complex problem there is a solution that's simple, neat, and wrong."

                                                    1. re: eatzalot

                                                      >>> My intent was never to advocate for HFCS, but to advocate against misconceptions and oversimplifications that plague this and other food health questions

                                                      Which is why I say we are really saying the same thing.

                                                      It is just that I don't have time to read a bunch of scientific journals and my experience over the decades just has me very skeptical of products like HFCS. The USDA doesn't exactly have a clean track record. I hail from the days when they promoted tobacco ... no proven tests, ya know.

                                                      So while knowing there are oversimplifications, my own take is to be cautious

                                                      >>> manufacturers reflect demand.

                                                      Yep. And from the article in the OP, consumers are voting with their pocket books on HFCS

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        Huh? What? Me?

                                        I thought I made it clear that my major objection is that it tastes lousy and anything I posted had NOTHING scientific about it ... just personal observations. Also that more seemed to be going on that pinning things on EITHER sugar or HFCS.

                                        Did you respond to me by accident?

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Relax, rw. I was actually just trying to agree with you.

                                        2. re: ipsedixit

                                          I myself tend to be of the school of thought that if there is a major controversy health-wise about a substance that has really invaded our food supply in an astonishingly short period of time, the better part of valor suggests it might be prudent to avoid said substance until all the evidence is in, one way or another. I'm not fanatical about it but I figure my family has nothing to lose by avoiding the substance as much as is reasonably practical.

                                          And I agree with rworange - food tastes better with pure cane sugar.

                                        3. re: rworange

                                          Thanks for the report "from the field," rworange. I'm with you completely on the gastronomic angle.

                                          Please note though that however unnatural HFCS, or its production processes, might appear, its carbohydrate content (lightning-rod for fears about diabetes, obesity, etc.) is fructose and glucose in variable percentages. Both occur abundantly, and in combination, throughout fresh ripe produce, and (again) honey, a naturally occurring nearly pure HFCS containing also valuable trace nutrients.

                                          This subject drips with irony (pardon the expression); a few examples offhand: Honey is held up as the classic "health-food" sweetener, so if people advocate or eat it but also disdain HFCS, they share the reasoning of folks who'll happily stay on a hotel's 13th floor, only if it's artificially labeled 14th. Before HFCS was so common, pure fructose was always portrayed by health enthusiasts as a healthier sugar than sucrose (table sugar), both because its slower metabolism meant less blood-sugar spiking and because it's a stronger sweetener, so less is needed. And the treasury of earnest misinformation available from cults, talk-show hosts, profit-making "health letters," nutrition-supplement hucksters, and (God help us) Web sites now empowers anyone with a computer (but no sense of wheat vs chaff, of more vs less reliable sources) to conjure endless references buttressing any armchair notion, especially if it's nonsense. Someone actually argued (commenting on yet another online story here focusing on some trees rather than the forest) that "Type 2 Diabetes [mellitus] ... is the result of genetics, not longterm lifestyle choices" and I answered from a modern medical reference beginning "Type 2 DM usually can be prevented with lifestyle modification" (and on to details) so that readers might at least choose between an anonymous unsupported opinion and current effective medical practice.


                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                            Yes. I don't know enough about the supported or unsupported health claims of various sweeteners.' Over the years though I have become uncomfortable with those products made in the labs and newly introduced. I prefer other people to be my test rats.

                                            Yes too much sugar will rot your teeth, make you fat and could contribute to diabetes. But in the hundreds of years of its use, no link to illnesses such as cancer pop up as did for the first artificial sweetener put on the market, the name of which is escaping me right now.

                                            Then there are empty calories and not. Maybe raw honey does or doesn't have the health benefits assigned to pollen.

                                            However, if eating fruit there also comes with that natural sugar, fiber, vitamins, etc. Also, you are eating less because of the bulk of the fruit.

                                            I am just starting to get through to my stepdaughters that different choices mean different things.

                                            I've had my fill of Coke and Pepsi with sugar at this point and refuse it in favor of water. I will drink sweetened juice because it is more than empty calories. I was a bit shocked that this finally sunk in even without language skills because this morning one daughter took her coffee with non fat milk and no sugar ... which borders close to miraculous in these parts.

                                            Now if I can only convey the different impact of the choice between all these items that have 100 calorie servings ... white rolls, tortillas, cheese, bananas

                                            And ... as a friend said many years ago ... moderation .. water will kill you if you try to drink a gallon and you are a fruit fly.

                                            Sugar and even HFCS may or may not be bad. However, the fact that they are in the majority of processed foods ... and often for no reason ... welll, that can't be good.

                                      3. Upthread, rworange in particular added good and original comments. I do think scientific publications, or complaints about USDA, are basically side matters. (I happened to cite USDA just for standard sugar-content data, also available from many independent sources.)

                                        More interesting IMO is HOW the many people offhandly attacking HFCS acquired that view. Some, even in this thread, accept HFCS as a proven evil, and don't even mention (let alone take responsibility for) what they think they're avoiding. Corn sweetners new and untested, replacing sucrose? (No, they've been around as long, as you can verify. Price incentives pushed US manufactureres to prefer them currently.) Unnatural sugar content? (Um, more common in plant foods than table sugar is.) Obesity? (Wherefrom this weird notion that one sugar type contributes to obesity but others don't?) Residual acids etc from HFCS refinement? (Same criticism condemned sucrose, before HFCS, and sugar makers know how to avoid the problem anyway.)

                                        Skepticism re merits of HFCS isn't a problem. Caution isn't a problem. Embracing perverse nitwit notions like those above WITHOUT such skepticism -- that's a problem, and it goes beyond sweeteners.


                                          "As High Fructose Corn Syrup Use Declines, Sugar Refining Increases"
                                          "Producers blame the decline on a campaign that argues corn syrup is behind rising obesity in the U.S. and that favors sugar over the refined product, although most nutritionists find little difference between the two. They also accuse the sugar industry of pushing a campaign that has helped sugar refining increase about 7 percent from 2003 to 2008."

                                          This blames the big shift to HFCS to the imposition of quotas and tariffs on imported sugar in the late 1970s. And the shift away starting with 2004 studies suggesting a link between HFCS and obesity, and the 'whole move toward natural things'.

                                          Also of note, sales of HFCS in other countries, including Mexico, are increasing.