HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Being aware of sugar-coating HFCS

FIRST - this is NOT about whethere you like HFCS or not. If you think it is great ... great. If you hate ... just as good. I hope we don't have that discussion here.

This is about something new I'm seeing.

When I read a label ... let's say ice cream ... I'll see cream, sugrar, etc, etc, etc.

Ok. I thought I was doing due diligence since I don't want HFCS. Many companies have been responding to consumers who don't want it and bringing back the sugar.

However, I'm finding more and more companies are listing sugar first and then further down in the ingredient list ... there's my friend ... HFCS.

BUT ... when this happens they never use the initials ... they write the whole phrase ... high fructose corn syrup.

For me there's an off flavor and an after burn to HFCS.. The first time this happened, when I took a bite of these bionic products, I got that HFCS hit. I re-read the label and found the HFCS buried further down on the list.

Personally, I feel like these companies are trying to trick customers. Others may think not. I can't think of a reason why companies would do this.

Anyway, the real point is to be aware that this is happing and to read the labels completely if you don't want HFCS in your food. If you don't care about HFCS ... nver mind.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Regulations require food label Ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance according to weight.

    This has been true since the mid 1970's, when ingredient labels were first required.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      Yes, I'm aware of that. However low on the ingredient list, that HFCS is cheaper than sugar and cutting the cost to the company making it. To me it cuts quality and taste.

      The product I lreally 'loved' was the one listing organic can sugar at the top ... and high fructose corn syrup further down. Tell me what that was about?

      1. re: rworange

        Descending order of ingredients.

        There is more sugar, by weight, than whatever the second ingredient is, which is more by weight than the next ingredient, which is more by weight than high fructose corn syrup which is more by weight than the next ingredients. There are no abbreviations on the list, so that everyone will know exactly what is in the product. The ingredients are listed. If you know you are sensitive, then you need to always read the complete list and not stop with the first three predominant ingredients.

        The list is the recipe of the enclosed product, however they made it, after researching it, by taste testing it and finally deciding to manufacture it.

        There is nothing 'hidden' or trying to 'trick' anyone. No business is started with an intention to not have a profit. The recipe is what they decided on would taste good, be affordable and sell at a price point that would still give a profit in the end.

        1. re: Cathy

          Nope. I'm tired of the law game in the market. Did they steal one ounce from this box/can and charge me the same? Do I have to srutinize each and every ingredient. No.

          So I will go there. I believe this is like cutting product size ... a hope that customers are not paying attention. It is an attempt to decieve the consumer.

          Most companies know a good many consumers don't want HFCS so they stick that sugar up top hoping the customers does not notice further down

          Unless anyone can give me a reasonable reason a company would do this other than cutting costs. None of these products have "new improved flavor" blazing on the label.

          I notice. I pay attention. The result will be any ompany doing this (like cutting size) will go on my list to not trust.

          Anyware, as I said, if you agree with motives or not, people should be aware this is happening and do what is right for them.

          Gratuitous extra: The corn industry trying to change the name of HFCS so customers won't know ... corn sugar ... and that is meant as an explicative.


          1. re: rworange

            You never said the product used to have only sugar, cream, vanilla and nothing else and now has sugar, cream, high fructose corn syrup and vanilla. That would be construed as a cost cutter.

            Yes, you do have to read the label. That's why they started the label laws, so that people would know what the ingredients are (hence the caveat of being processed in a facility which also processes nuts, etc. as well as the phenylalanine warnings for phenylketonurics). The label laws now with nutrition values are an extension of that.

            I do notice some products advertising "no high fructose corn syrup" lately, along with 'fat free' and 'gluten free'. But there is no obligation for a company to even do that.

            You can put any company on any list you'd like, but calling them deceitful is incorrect. They are in business and do so to make a profit, usually by cutting costs, either by package size or ingredient suppliers or actual ingredients.

            1. re: Cathy

              Here's a site that says the same thing about companies trying to be deceitful ... and says it better ... it confirmed my suspicions.

              How Food Companies Hide Sugar in Plain Sight


              "Insidious Workarounds

              Unfortunately, a quick glance just isn’t enough any more, because many food companies have caught on to us. They know that we’ve all trained ourselves to scan the ingredients and make sure sugar and high fructose corn syrup aren’t near the top of the list.

              So they’ve arrived at an insidious workaround that subverts our quick glances, and often leads consumers to underestimate the sugar content of a food. How? By using three, four or even five different kinds of sugar in the food, and listing each sweetener separately."

              And it goes on.

              Actually it is the trend I'm seeing. Today I noticed it on Edy's Ice cream which listed sugar, then corn syrup and a few more ingredients then high fructose corn syrup. I never liked Edy's ice cream anyway.

              I like their advice to walk away from products doing this and let the company know why. Even though companies are digging into a new bag of tricks, enouch customers walked away from products with HFCS so that many more upfront companies have totally switched back to sugar.

              Insidious ... not my word ... but so appropriate.

              1. re: rworange

                If you really want to know how much sugar there is in something, don't look at the ingredients, look at the nutritional information.

                Companies have various reasons for using different sweeteners -- among other things, they have different properties when it comes to things like texture. For example one reason HFCS has been added to a lot of baked goods is not so much to make them sweeter as to make them moister and extend shelf life.

            2. re: rworange

              "None of these products have "new improved flavor" blazing on the label."

              "New improved flavor" means we reduced the cost but we managed to make it still taste ok, if different.

      2. I am not sure that HFCS has ever listed on an ingredient list as HFCS. I mean, not everyone would know what HFCS means. But more to the point, somewhere I think I have read that HFCS keeps products moist. So it might be added for that reason--to keep a product from seeming to be stale--along with sugar. Someone here will know if that is the case, I'm sure.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo

          A 55/45 fructose/glucose ratio HFCS is used in soft drinks to match the sweetness factor of straight sucrose, but bakers prefer to use s 40/60 ratio syrup because the glucose extends the shelf life; that is, it reduces the tendency to go stale. Other syrups like molasses have a similar anti-staling character. Think, for example, of how quickly French bread, without any sugar or other ingredients, goes stale.

          Corn syrup, of the straight glucose variety, is also used in candies because it does not crystalize. A straight sugar syrup crystallizes readily. Invert sugar is a sucrose syrup that is partially broken up, so it is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and glucose. It too resists crystalization, and is popular in English baking (Golden Syrup).

          Outside of the USA, the equivalent of HFCS is called something like fructose-glucose. It may be made from a different starch, such as potato or wheat. But the baking and cooking qualities are the same.

          1. re: sueatmo

            I am not sure that HFCS has ever listed on an ingredient list as HFCS


            1. re: ipsedixit

              Initially I doubted this bit about never using the initials, but when I checked various items in my pantry I couldn't find any. I don't have a lot of HFCS items, but even things like generic pancake syrup, 5 yr old Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup use the full name. I've just gotten so used to equating the full name and the abbreviation, that I didn't notice.

              1. re: paulj

                ... and that's why the title and topic of this entire thread is sort of misleading in and of itself.

                Sort of ironic, no?

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Since I don't buy products with HFCS usually, I don't have anything at home. However, next time I'm at the grocery store I'll fund some. I specifically remember showing my stepdaughters from Guatemala products with EITHER high fructose corn syrup or HFCS on the label ... wanted to show them both ... and telling them not to buy products with that.

          2. >>>BUT ... when this happens they never use the initials ... they write the whole phrase ... high fructose corn syrup. <<<

            I have never once seen the initials used in the ingredient list on a product label. I have always seen the whole phrase used.

            There's no discretion as to the order in which the ingredients are listed, as was pointed out many times above. Are you alleging that they are changing the formula from one that presumably works to one that might not be as good just to tweak the ingredient list on the label so they can fool you?

            9 Replies
            1. re: acgold7

              Yep. That's also what the link I provided in another response says.

              1. re: rworange

                Yes, I read the article, which makes that allegation but offers no evidence that this is what is actually happening. It is an unproven assertion, as is yours. All the various sugars listed are not HFCS. They could not be combined in order to list them higher on the ingredient list even if you wanted them to. They are equally bad for you, no doubt. But if you are on an anti-HFCS jihad, this is the wrong place to look for evil.

                The commenters in that article and on this thread are right... just look at the total carbs and total sugar on the nutrition panel if you want to know whether it's going to kill you or not. There are no secrets there; it's right out in the open.

                The AHA said yesterday you should limit your consumption of ALL added sugars to about 20-25g per day.

                1. re: acgold7

                  I'm only interested in HFCS ... and now ... as a result of this thread ... corn syrup.

                  1. re: rworange

                    But the article wasn't strictly about HFCS or the attempt to hide it. It was about breaking the total sugars into four or five or six different pieces of different kinds, all but one of which were *not* HFCS, so that "Sugar" doesn't appear first on the ingredient list.

                    Either your issue is with HFCS or it isn't.

                    You and many others hate HFCS. Manufacturers are responding by reducing its use and replacing it with other sweeteners and now you are complaining that it is now used less and hence appears lower in the ingredient list. Show me where that makes sense.

                    1. re: acgold7

                      >>> But the article wasn't strictly about HFCS or the attempt to hide it.

                      "Insidious Workarounds" that doesn't say "hide" to you?

                      AGAIN ... do NOT make this about the pros and cons of HFCS.That was the FIRST sentence in this.

                      As stated, I have been fooled by the relabeling. I just wanted others to to be aware and make any decision they want to.

                      Don't try to make a straw man of HFCS.

                      However, even I was surprised by reading about how sugar is now being subdivied on lables so it doesn't rise to the top. That is something I will now be aware of.

                      1. re: rworange

                        Insidious workaround is an allegation and nothing more. No evidence of anything is offered. People can accuse anyone of anything they want on the Internet, without offering anything of substance to back up their charges.

                        All the article did, and all you've done, is note they've reduced the amount of HFCS so it falls to the bottom of the list. No one has offered any proof of motive, and it's just as likely that they've reduced it in response to consumer demand as anything else.

                        And as both the article and my post above made clear, the issue isn't specifically about HFCS, even though you want it to be. The article is entirely about total sugar content and the way they break it up into several different components so they can be listed separately and not have "Sugar" be the first item on the ingredient list.

                        1. re: acgold7

                          This was in respose to the poster who wrote

                          >>> But the article wasn't strictly about HFCS or the attempt to hide it.

                          However you think the article is or isn't slanted, that says to me that they think the comapnies are trying to "hide" something.

                          If I wanted it to be about HFCS, I would not have made the first sentence that it was NOT about HFCS.

                          The point, actually, as many have said is to read the labels. Whatever motives might be assigned to this change ... it is a change. Consumers should be aware of it.

                          I don't think that anyone who objects to HFCS wants less of it in an ingredeient list. They want none. So that is not a good response by a company. All it means is that people need to putll out their reading glasses, if necessary, and make sure there isn't ANY of an objectionable to them ingredient.

                          To me that is either clueless of a comapny ... or sleazy. I suspect the latter. You don't need to agree ... just know to read the lable and go from there

                          1. re: rworange

                            "If I wanted it to be about HFCS, I would not have made the first sentence that it was NOT about HFCS."

                            No, what you actually said in your first post was "this is NOT about whether you like HFCS or not", which is different, because then you said "read the labels completely if you don't want HFCS in your food. If you don't care about HFCS ... nver mind." And you then went on to say: "I'm only interested in HFCS" in a later post so you'll understand if that's what we thought you meant, especially because your thread title said it was about HFCS.

                            The problem here is that with each post you change your point.

                            First your point was that they hid the HFCS at the bottom of the list and were somehow trying to trick you by not using the initials, and when it was pointed out that they never used the initials and were federally mandated to list ingredients proportionately, your argument suddenly changed to being about splitting up the sugars and not being about HFCS at all.

                            Then your point becomes that this insidious non-HFCS issue is a recent change and then that's pointed out as not being a recent thing at all.

                            So now, after you explicitly singled out HFCS, you say we're making HFCS a straw man.

                            l glad we agree that we should all read the labels.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              Please re-read.

                              Posters LOVE to divert threads into other directions, as you are trying to. So I'm not going to explain point by point how YOUR interpretation ... or anyone else's interprestation .. is just a reason to get into the HFCS argument.

                              I don't care about that. Either you are on board with HFCS or not. That is what I said from the first post and repeated a number of times. I don't want it. Others don't care. I am not out to try to vilify it.

                              I am happy your last sentence agrees with the point of this thread. Read lables. They have changed recently.

            2. Here's an easy to understand piece from David Liebovitz on uses of corn syrup for texture, etc.

              The amount incorporated is so small in those cases (vs. when it is used as a sweetener), I doubt that I could pick out the taste. I'm told it's quite common in fancy restaurant-made ice creams for extra gloss and smoothness, lending density.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Ahh... Mr. Leibovitz echoes my sentiments exactly! There are times when a small amount of corn syrup is a chemical "necessity" to achieve a certain texture (marshamallows and some candies for ex.).
                The wholesale replacement of cane sugar with HFCS in a procuct that used to contain cane sugar just to save money is a very different thing. I don't like the taste of HFCS and avoid it as much as possible.

                1. re: iluvcookies

                  Exactly, And I'm not talking about corn syrup, but HFCS. They are different.

                  There's a lot of things I don't particularily like about corn syrup, but I recognize where it needs to be used ... though the fact that most of the world doesn't use it ... well.

                  One thing I did learn from that article is that regular corn syrup these days uses HFCS.

                  Would I notice a teaspoon of either? I don't think so either.

                  However, most products have more than that. As I said, I bought some products listing sugar at the top and didn't read further down. It was the taste and what I'm now recognizing as a burning sensation that sent me back to the label.

                  1. re: rworange

                    "One thing I did learn from that article is that regular corn syrup these days uses HFCS."

                    The Lebovitz article makes it clear that HFCS is made from corn syrup, not the other way around. However, if you look at some bottles of 'corn syrup' on the grocery shelf, you will see HFCS listed as an ingredient. That's something that has been added to the consumer product, in order to tweak the flavor (make it a little sweeter?). Some also have added vanilla flavor. But if a manufacturer lists 'corn syrup' in their ingredient list, I think it save to assume that it is the plain, glucose, form, not a mix. The HFCS, if any, will be listed separately (check the cheap Golden Griddle pancake syrup next you shop at Grocery Outlet).

                    1. re: paulj

                      At least they use vanilla and not vaniilin ... another ingredient I look for because I don't like the taste of the latter.

                      I'm not a corn syrup fan in general and since I don't cook much, I think the last bottled I had was about 2002 ... and I used it once about five years prior for some recipe that caught my eye. But should I ever need it it is good to know to check the ingredient list on even that. Sheesh.

              2. "Personally I feel like these companies are trying to trick consumers." How exactly are consumers being tricked? Anyone can read the label to see the ingredients and the nutritional information. The ingredient listing contains all ingredients used, even trace ingredients, and the sugar carbohydrates are clearly listed on the nutritional information part of the label, as required by FDA regulations. Shame on those nasty corporations for following FDA regs, and "hiding" the ingredients "in plain sight" as the sweetlife.org article you referenced mentions. How dare they!

                As pointed out by Melanie Wong, companies have various reasons for using different sugars, one among them being cost, and HFCS is a lower cost sweetener. But it is highly doubtful that companies use HFCS in order to trick consumers. If you don't wish to consume HFCS (and I don't) it is easily avoidable. Please don't blame the food manufacturers for your own failure.

                6 Replies
                1. re: janniecooks

                  janniecooks..... You are 100% correct; I guess many/some people want life to be "risk free", hmmm.... it isn't!! It is more about personal responsibility than "Tricking Consumers.

                  1. re: janniecooks

                    >>> But it is highly doubtful that companies use HFCS in order to trick consumers

                    And what exactly are you basing that on? The perceived kindness of big business?

                    If you don't want to rely on the report on some blog, how about the government rejecting the corn industry's attempt to change the name of HFCS? WHat would that be but trying to trick consumers?

                    Going back to sugar in general, this post on the general board shows how difficult it is to find sugar these days.


                    The poster wrote (since people don't follow links usually)

                    "I was trying to determine whether a certain juice drink (from GO) contained added sugar. Here's the ingredient list. NOTE: The line breaks are the same as on the label, although the label has both left and right margin alignment. The whole list occupies a space 1 1/8 inch wide by 1 1/4 inch tall. (I need to wear different glasses for reading up close, which I didn't have that day).



                    (FILTERED WATER, APPLE AND GRAPE



                    CONCENTRATE (FILTERED WATER,

                    (CRANBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE),



                    LACTATE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C).

                    MALTODEXTRIN, VITAMIN D3


                    I missed the added sugar (in line 5 among the 12 lines). The item is really really sweet, something I was trying to avoid, but missed because of how the sugar got "buried" in the ingredients list."

                    The same happens since companies start breaking down sugar and high fructose corn syrup gets burried in an endless ingredient list.

                    Now multiply this buy a basketful of grocery items. Seriosuly ... are you reading this on each and every item ... seriously? Do I need a speed reading course to get out of the market in a day?

                    I read the labels. I find I'm buying more products with ingredients I don't want when I look at them again a home and find I somehow didnt find Wally in the croweded ingredient list.

                    1. re: rworange

                      I don't think you're wrong to be on the lookout for added sugar. It is a problem. But the fact that the word "sugar" is in the fifth line where it is, isn't the problem. We all have a responsibility to read all the words.

                      What gets to me is when they trumpet "100% Real Juice -- No Sugar Added" on the front and then you see all the concentrates added on the back, which are basically pure sugar syrups. That, to me, borders on trickery. Not any of this other stuff.

                      The whole issue of changing the name to "corn sugar" is yet another completely different issue and unrelated to your original post. At the moment there is no credible scientific evidence that the body processes HFCS any differently than it processes Honey, to which it is chemically and physically identical, and which is only 2% higher in fructose than table sugar. It is all equally poisonous.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        What is related to the OP is that I stated that the issue of HFCS being good or bad is not the point of this thread. There are way too many discussions and it will throw the thread off topic.

                        I will say that it is the consumer's responsibility to be somewhat educatied that white grape juice or apple juice MIGHT be the equevalent of sugar. However, based on how people digest that information, it is up to them if they want to buy products sweetened by that. To me, I prefer juice sweeteners to sugar, corn syrup, etc, etc, etc ... there is some added vitamins and minerals.

                        Again this isn't about that.

                      2. re: rworange

                        That was my post.

                        This is reminding me of foodstuff from China. I was avoiding food labelled "Product of China", until I read that some Chinese producers ship their food elsewhere in Asia for final processing, so they don't have to say "Product of China". So now I just avoid all food labelled as product of any Asian country.

                        All this gaming from food producers is helping to push me to buying only grains, fresh vegetables and raw meat, and less and less processed food, when I go shopping in the grocery stores. While it's better for my health anyway, I doubt this is what they really intended. But whatever. They're the ones who outsmarted themselves.

                        1. re: dump123456789

                          Interesting to know. Thanks. I had been only avoiding food identified as having come from China. I will widen my list of products not to buy. .

                    2. I too am failing to see the alleged trickery. If (a) ingredients are listed according to proportion by weight (as dictated by law and common sense), and (b) "high fructose corn syrup" rather than a decidedly more cryptic acronym is included in the list, how exactly is the consumer being tricked?

                      Should the companies anticipate which ingredients anyone might find personally objectionable and print them in a bold red font? I get that you don't like having to plow through a long list determine if an ingredient that you don't like is there, but what do you propose as a solution?

                      If ingredients matter to you, read the entire list. I do. If you don't have time to read the list, err on the side of caution/personal taste/moral stricture/whatever and leave the item on the shelf until you have time to research it to your satisfaction. Once you know what the content of the product is, you can white list it or black list it as you see fit.

                      Boom. Done.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: hohokam

                        I propose that companies cease this new strategy of using 5 or 6 different sugars to bury HFCS.

                        1. re: rworange

                          So you are suggesting they use more HFCS so it can be higher on the list? Because if they combined all those other sugars into one other sugar, HFCS would still be at the bottom.

                          There still is no evidence that this is a strategy at all, new or old.

                          1. re: acgold7


                            So, what is your explanation of the new splitting up of sugar?

                            1. re: rworange

                              As you've noted that HFCS, and not sugar, is the issue, I'll note that you are in favor of increasing HFCS content.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Splitting up the sugars, and using things like evaporated cane juice, has been going on for a number of years, and is common in products with NO HFCS. Just look at a cookie or cracker box for the organic section of the grocery or from Trader Joes.

                            2. re: rworange

                              What I'm wondering is how this allegedly intentional "burying" strategy is functionally different than having HFCS sandwiched between 5 more predominant non-sugar ingredients and 4 less predominant ingredients in a 10-ingredient list. If a person stops reading the ingredient list once s/he hits the first or second saccharide compound, then that's on her/him. The information is already there on the label, and you certainly seem motivated enough to find it; so, again, I fail to see what the issue is here.

                          2. I'm more annoyed by the name change from "High Fructose Corn Syrup" to "Corn Sugar."


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jen76

                              No kidding. Doesn't that sound so innocent? It certainly pissed off the cane sugar industry. I will leave it up to them to fight that one as they have more bucks and influence than I do.

                            2. I'm thinking there should be an app where you can enter the list of ingredients you want to avoid, scan the item and have a beep if it's there--it would be especially helpful for kids w/ allergies, and those of us with aging eyes but I think there are quite a few people who avoid certain ingredients. Plus it would be helpful for various names, as in this case--HFCS, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: chowser


                                If anyone sees something like this, I hope you will post.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  I am in the second category who would definitely be delighted to see such a gadget. This reminds me again that I should really try to find a magnifying glass that can fit into my wallet or on my keychain, and maybe it can cut down the time on the grocery store trip by half.

                                  1. re: vil

                                    I have one of those, a credit card sized magnfier with a teeny light built in! Like this! http://www.amazon.com/VisAcuity-Walle...

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      the CVS drugstores in Florida have those chained to the shelves every few feet. I used to laugh...now when I visit, I find myself reaching for them.... :S

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        I use it in dim restaurants... when I remember I have it!

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I was quite proud of myself to have found a nice stainless mini-flashlight to go on hubby's keychain, and bought it for him for a birthday present (he's always had trouble with low light, even when we were young and didn't need reading glasses!) It was bright enough to read by, but dim enough to stay discreet in a restaurant...he played with it at home, and put it on his keyring....

                                          We were both caught up with major upheavals at work, so we didn't get out for a proper dinner out (with lighting low enough to need the new light) for a couple of months...so imagine my chagrin when he pulled it out to use it, only to find that the stupid top had unscrewed itself somewhere along the line, and the light mechanism and battery had long since disappeared...and all this too late to return it anyway. Argh.

                                      2. re: mcf

                                        Cool! Until I realized that Amazon does not ship it to where I am now. Luckily I just found one yesterday at the local bookstore.

                                  2. Bottom line for me; is try to avoid any processed foods; if you must buy then try not to purchase products with any type of added sugar. chemically sugar is sugar whether concentrated or not it all is a diabetes/obesity threat.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                      Whether sugar is evil or not ... whethere HFCS is evil or not ... isn't the point. It is too easy to divert this to those discussions.

                                      Whatever it is someone would like to avoid, then be aware of the constantly changing labels.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        As I mentioned, for me, No need to scrutinize labels if you make it a habit not buy processed foods. It is not easy, but with time I have good relationships with small local producers of Dairy products (including cheese, butter cottage cheese, etc.), meat and poultry,eggs local honey, and locally grown organic veg. That is my way of assuring that I have at least a little knowledge of what I/we eat.

                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                          If you make everything from scratch, that's awesome. I end up buying a lot of things like ketchup, mustard, crackers, pasta (who knows what's in those egg noodles you buy from the stores?), tons of seasonings (what's in sriracha, stinky tofu, pickled black cucumber/daikon, fish paste, ...), cereal, ice cream (make some/buy some),cheese, pickles, etc., etc. I'm sure if I took a look in my pantry, I could fill pages and I like to cook, make a lot from scratch. It's harder reading labels as you get older, especially when the list can be long and scrunched. Your approach is great for you but a little bit "let them eat cake" for the rest of us who don't have personal relationships with organic growers because we don't live near parts of the world that are close to them.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            Chowser, a simple way of avoiding HFCS in prepared foods is make sure the item is Organic, organic products do not have any artificial preservatives, colors, flavors or sweetners like HFCS. Ketchup, pickles, hot sauce, cereal, ice cream are obviously things I purchase, but they are readily available from organic processors.

                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                              Yes, but again, a little "let them eat cake" approach because buying all organic is expensive and not everyone has those means. Some people just want to buy a loaf of bread for sandwiches or some crackers (both which commonly have HFCS) and not spend a lot more and just have it easy to read on the label whether it's an allergy or an ingredient they just want to avoid.

                                              1. re: chowser

                                                Hey you can even buy organic with EBT, it is all about personal choices and what is important to you. You are free to choose....at least for now......

                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                  So a family with very limited resources can choose to buy an expensive loaf of organic bread and forgo milk just because the label is too hard to read rather than make the label more legible so they don't have to choose one over the other. I'll make sure to tell the clients at the food pantry that--eat cake.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    chowser, no, of course not, but it is more like dump the purchase of soda, potato chips, frozen pizza, fast food, donuts and other processed trans fat little heart cloggers,processed cheese food, hot dogs and other nitrate and sodium filled processed meats (cold cuts). candy and icing filled packaged anacks.Instead change your habits to included more dry beans, very economical and a good source of protein fruits and veg in season, at less than a dollar a pound many seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper than processed, frozen canned, and fast food products. Then the goal should be, add an organic item as a start, then when the budget allows add another. Always with an eye on avoiding HFCS, high sugar, high fat processed foods. If one has a goal, the benefits will start cascading, lower obesity, better blood pressure, control of diabetes, better tasting foods, more interest in what is going into our bodies, etc., etc..

                                                    1. re: ospreycove

                                                      I agree. At the same time, it would be nice if labels were easier to read so people could make those changes, etc reduce HFCS, high sugar, transfats. Yes, avoid potato chips but what about bread, crackers, ketchup, and the whole host of foods a family might buy? Why not make it easier for them to make their choices? I can tell you that my mom has the hardest time reading the labels. When the large print on the bread says, "Whole Grains" but whole grains are way down on the list of ingredients, she still thinks it's whole grains. I don't see a problem in making it easier for people to buy the foods that do not have the ingredients they want to avoid, instead of telling them to change to organics. That doesn't even solve the problem--you'll find a lot of "organic" chips, cookies, ice cream, pure junk. Information is key. Just make the darn labels bigger and easier to read. I think that's all rworange is saying.

                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                        the problem is, however, that there are so many things already required to be on the label (and so many things with a regulated minimum size -- bar codes and nutritional information for starters), that manufacturers are running out of real estate...sometimes there just isn't enough *space* to print it large enough to read without reading glasses...and at the moment, I believe there is a required minimum font size for ingredient lists and nutritional information, just as there's a minimum required size for weight/volume, etc.

                                                        This comes down to WHOSE eyesight should it be printed for? Get yourself a magnifier (the Fresnel-lens type magnifiers are cheap and small) and read the labels.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          "This comes down to WHOSE eyesight should it be printed for? "

                                                          How about if the majority of people who read can read it? I would think few people over 40 can read it and that's a significant number of people who are affected. I wouldn't send out a resume in 6 font and would toss one that came in with letters in that size.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            How about recognizing you are not in the majority anymore and need to get glasses, as people around age 40 have had to? The font size certainly has worked for more than 30 years.

                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                              I'm not sure if people aren't reading what I'm writing or chosing to ignore it. I have no problems reading it. I know a lot of people who do and am sympathetic to them. The majority of people who read are over 40 and can't read it--that's the majority. I have no idea if the food labels have been around for over 30 years but even if they have, if the majority of people can't read them, it can be changed. I don't believe everything is set in stone and something that doesn't work should remain broken. People don't read food labels--why? Is it because they're too hard to read, for every food item one might buy?

                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                          Chowser, Of course you are 100% correct; I guess my point was a little off the subject, in that setting nutrition goals is something that anybody can do, not restricted to Phd's, or those with limitless incomes, super healthy individuals, etc. the first hurdle is to get people to think about what they eat, and making labels easier to read is a good start.
                                                          Sunshine 842 has the answer a "Pocket Magnifier" would solve the problem for a lot of folks.....me included!!!

                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                            An important second step is to have better food choices available in their neighborhoods. In too many, there's no place to shop except for junk filled convenience stores.

                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                              I volunteer at a pantry where people pick up bags of food that we prepack. People have diet restrictions or ask for specific ingredients not to be in the food or to be in the food. Since everything we pack, essentially, has labels, it's challenging to read through each one. Thanks to my wonderful eye doctor, I have bifocals that work but it's a struggle for quite a few volunteers to read through every item in the bags. But, over the years, I have to say the biggest positive change I see is that quite a few people ask for the healthiest choices they can get, eg whole grains, less processed. It's an extra step for us but one I do happily (if squintingly).

                                        2. People who are serious about limiting carbs or fats, or making sure they don't ingest an ingredient that sets off an allergy are more likely to read all the ingredients all the time. I don't like HFCS. I think its inclusion in an ingredient list probably indicates poor quality and/or too much carb for me. But most people have neither the patience or the motivation to read down a list of ingredients. (And reading down a lengthy list sure tells you how processed the food is!) The nutrition labels are changing, I understand. I hope they are easier to read, but from the description I read, I think they might be harder for some of us who watch carbs. We'll see.

                                          1. my understanding is that HCFS can function as a preservative, therefore they add a little to the food to keep it "fresh." Alternately it's a lot sweeter than sugar and a little (ie. not a primary ingredient) goes a long way.
                                            I always skim all of the ingredients before deciding whether to buy a packaged item...
                                            personally I think it's INCREDIBLY ridiculous that one must be so vigilant in order to not be contaminated by the crap that goes into foods. for example, my mother in law likes prepared foods from the deli section of the supermarket. she is of the generation(?) that does not read the labels. the food is preserved up the wazoo I guess because there is not a lot of turnover. at least they HAVE the ingredients on the packages. the point is that she does not read them and does not know strange chemicals she is consuming. one would think that noodle salad sold by the lb in a supermarket did not have Red #5 and HCFS, among other things. I am a scientist and I'm guessing it's easier for me...how educated must one be to be well informed in this food culture? (channeling Michael Pollan...)

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: fara

                                              I like your scientific descriptions: crap, wazoo, strange chemicals ... :)

                                              As I understand sugars, glucose does not taste as sweet as sucrose, fructose tastes somewhat sweeter (but not enough to qualify as a low calorie substitute). HFCS comes a range of fructose/glucose ratios, from a high 95/5 to the 0/100 of plain corn syrup. Usually HFCS is a blend of those two extremes. As I wrote earlier, the common 55/45 ratio is chosen to roughly match the sweetness of sucrose (which is 50/50 but loosely bound).

                                              My guess is that HFCS in an ice cream such as the OP mentioned is there for texture or to prevent crystallization. On the other hand, in a generic pancake syrup HCFS provides sweetness while 'corn syrup' provides body (as in Karo syrup, which is mostly glucose).

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                thanks for the clarification paulj. I'm not a nutritionist by trade, just by interest ;)

                                                1. re: paulj

                                                  paulj...there are other ways to prevent crystallization in ice cream, check out the label on Hagen Daz , for example.

                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                    My favorite TJ vanilla ice cream just has a couple of gums at the end of its short ingredients list.

                                              2. There's trickery and then there's meta-trickery. While I acknowledge that for certain baked goods the noncrystallizing liquid HFCS has some properties which solid sucrose does not, I feel that in many cases the splitting up of sweeteners is practiced where this is not a factor.

                                                From the corporate perspective, using sugar and HFCS together certainly offers plenty of other advantages, most of which have been pointed out here already. Just to summarize the most obvious: First, HFCS is cheaper than sugar for the same perceived sweetness; second, when lesser amounts of two different sweeteners are used together, this can remove these ingredients from the head of the list, making the uninformed reader feel the product is less oversweetened; third, since sugar has a higher weight-to-sweetness ratio than HFCS, it will often appear earlier on, with HFCS further down the list and hence (to the casual observer) less significant.

                                                Then there's meta-trickery, like the many many millions spent to convince the public at large (it's legal since there is no functioning truth-in-advertising law here in the US) through endless repetition of slickly crafted TV ads. These feature the down-to-earth heartland farmer (who "got the the the facts" 'cause he cares about his kids) standing tall & strong amongst the green and upright corn, looking us straight in the eye and telling us in a sincere fatherly tone "there's no evidence that the body processes HFCS any differently; sugar is sugar." This, of course, is a baldfaced falsehood: shameless propaganda, blatantly tailored to dovetail with the industry's attempt to switch to the innocuous-sounding euphemism "corn sugar" despite formal FDA protests. The fact that feel they they can ignore the FDA says much about the balance between corporate-industrial clout and public welfare these days, and the culture of loopholes- they aren't promoting a business, they're promoting an industry.

                                                The HFCS producers publicly proclaim their complete innocence- why, nobody could EVER possibly mistake good ol' corn sugar for anything else but high fructose corn syrup, could they? How could anyone suspect little-old-them of trying to deceive the great American people, their beloved consumers? Simply because the "sugar is sugar" campaign just happens, by sheer coincidence, to contradict the large body of credible scientific evidence from reputable studies, like the one Princeton released in 2010? http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/ar... Nonsense!

                                                Anyhow, every right-thinkin' Amurrican knows ya can't trust them scientist types- they're all in a commie conspiracy, tryin' to brainwash good folks like us with that crazy theory 'bout climate change bein' real and all. Must hate Freedom an' Dumocracy, ya can just picture 'em wipin' their snotty egghead noses with the Stars & Stripes right now. Ain't it enough ta make yer blood boil?

                                                Okay, rant over. Sorry to go off like that; I just had to burn off a few extra calories from all that HFCS I've been eating without really noticing it...

                                                22 Replies
                                                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                  Um, ok.

                                                  But I hope people don't get into the HFCS is good or evil digression. One side will never connince the other and there are tons of threads about this.

                                                  As far as off topic I hope this topic goes is if the practice of spilitting up ingredients is trying to mislead consumers or not. And the biggest thing I hope out of this is that people are aware this is happening and to check the labels more carefully ... but I really want that ingredient scanner app.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    How do you determine, or even begin to suspect, that 'splitting up ingredients' was done to mislead consumers, as opposed to creating a product that will appeal to the consumer? And why focus on sugar and HFCS? How about the multiple grains and seeds in breads and cereals? For example my favorite '9 grain' bread from TJ. How about multiple fats? How about including ingredients just so you can include them in the product description?

                                                    has the ingredients list for Milton's Healthy Whole Grain Plus Bread, described as 'With Whole Wheat Flour and A Hint of Honey'. Where's the honey? I tried loaf a while back, and was struck by how sweet it was compared to that 9Grain. Is there deception in this product, labeling, or ingredients list? Have buyers been fooled by Miltons for 15 years?

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      That Milton's loaf is a good example of how difficult it is to read every ingredient list and your comment is the perfect example of how consumers can miss an ingredient. There is honey in there after the flaxseed.

                                                      Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Vital Wheat Gluten, Brown Sugar, Degermed Yellow Corn Grits, Whole Oats, Yeast, Wheat Bran, Rolled Oats. Contains 2% Or Less of Each of The Following: Flaxseed, Honey, Bleached Oat Fiber, Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Cracked Wheat, Distilled Vinegar, Malted Barley Flour, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes, Zinc Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate (A B Vitamin), Ferrous Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6), Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12), Wheat Starch, Cultured Wheat Starch, Soy Flour. Contains Wheat and Soy Ingredients

                                                      I'd say Milton's was honest. They had honey it it and customers might miss that reading the label because, as advertised it is a "hint of honey".

                                                      How about companies letting people know there is a "hint of HFCS". How many people would not buy it?

                                                      Of course, even though the FDA has said how deceptive renaming HFCS, I could see a label reading "a hint of corn sugar". Doesn't that sound homey?

                                                      Of course labels are designed to appeal to the consumer ... so it is difficult to find ingredients they might not want.

                                                      I'd look at a label like the above, see "brown sugar", and figure it was ok for what I'm looking for.

                                                      While the Milton's does NOT have HFCS, like you, taste has been what is sending me back to scrutinize the labels after purchase ... and I am finding more and more HFCS buried further down.

                                                      Take that Edy's ice cream I bought. Now I KNOW without looking that Edy's/Dryers has HFCS in it. It was a little serving size apple pie ice cream that was on sale for 33 cents. So, I decided given the size, price and I was craving fall food, I'd buy it.

                                                      So I pick it up and ... hey ... sugar and regular corn syrup are at the top., Now I KNOW Edy's has HFCS and I had to scrutinize the lable to find it.

                                                      If there's something in there that would appeal to a consumer and it could get lost, you bet the company is trumpeting it on the label. Whole grain is a perfect example. The most egregious right now is whole grain pringles ... with less than 2% whole grain ... but we are hearing about it in commercials and seeing it on the package.

                                                      Actually, Edy's was my breaking point and the reason I posted. I'd rather Edy's just used HFCS at the top. The reformulated Edy's didn't taste any better. It is just as gross and gluey as in the past .,.. I really needed a shot of fall flavor knowing what the whole thing was going to taste like.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        I can't off hand find that apple pie flavor, but here's the ingredients list for Edys Grands French Vanilla (a common 'deluxe' flavor)

                                                        "INGREDIENTS: skim milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, pasteurized egg yolks, whey, molasses, acacia gum, guar gum, ground vanilla beans, annatto color, natural flavors (with vanilla extract), carob bean gum, carrageenan, xantham gum"

                                                        Online they have a link for ingredients like corn syrup, which gives a popup saying:
                                                        "This natural sweetener is made from corn and is used with sugar to add body and control the sweetness of frozen desserts. The corn syrup that we use is only half as sweet as cane or beet sugar. " (that is corn syrup is mostly glucose).

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          Apple pie is under their 'fun flavors' cups.
                                                          "NGREDIENTS: Whey (Dairy), skim milk, sugar, cream, corn syrup, pie crust pieces (wheat flour, butter (cream, salt), water, sugar, salt), dried apple pieces, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavor, modified corn starch, cinnamon, guar gum, Propylene Glycol Monostearate, citric acid, monoglycerides, carrageenan, annatto color"

                                                          Compared with the vanilla, it is apparent that HFCS is part of the apple pie flavoring, not the ice cream base. Did you also notice the sugar in the 'pie crust pieces'? And what of the maltodextrin, another sugar derived enzymatically from corn starch?

                                                          It's quite clear to me, from this ingredients list, that the HFCS is there to create the flavor they (and the tasting panels) want. It's not there to save money, or to sneak it into your diet. I doubt is this flavor ever had HFCS higher in the ingredients list (as you want to assume). Note also that its 'dried apple pieces'; I'm guessing that the HFCS was added to the apply by their supplier.

                                                          I made a quick scan of the other Snack flavors
                                                          and only found HFCS in the Caramel Delight.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            I don't see anything that indicates the HFCS is part of the pie crust, but it is supposition on both our parts regarding the crust.

                                                            Given, thanks to this thread, I know corn syrup these days is made with HFCS, seems even more sneaky to me. Should the corn industry get its way, we will probably see corn sugar there someday.

                                                            I can see why the cane sugar industry is upset by the term. Someday they will be dripping the 'corn' and just listing it as sugar ... very much like beet sugar is never identified as such.

                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                              Where did you learn that Corn Syrup is made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)? From what I understand, HFCS is a subset of Corn Syrup - HFCS has been additionally processed to increase the fructose percentage and by law must be labeled as High Fructose Corn Syrup in the ingredients list. A company cannot mix HFCS with Corn Syrup and lump that measure of HFCS into the measure of Corn Syrup.

                                                              If I am mistaken about the legal requirements of HFCS labeling, I would be interested in reading more about this.

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                Where did you read the 'corn syrup these days is made with HFCS'?

                                                                I though it worked the other way - corn starch is converted into glucose (corn syrup), and that is further processed to convert glucose into fructose. A high concentration HFCS is then blended with corn syrup to give the balance between fructose and glucose that the users want.

                                                                By the way in my local health food store I can buy (in bulk) both powdered glucose and fructose, both most likely produced from corn.

                                                                I did not mean to imply that there is HFCS in the pie pieces. But aren't you bothered them hiding extra sugar in the pie pieces? Or is HFCS the only sugar that you are worried about?

                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                  The only thing I am interested in is getting across the point that labels are changing and sugar being broken up so what you see at the top might not be all that is in there.

                                                                  As far as corn syrup having HFCS, perhaps I am assuming wrong from the above link to a David Lebowitz article


                                                                  "Karo, the company that makes most of the corn syrup found on supermarket shelves in America, has come out with Karo Lite, which contains no high-fructose corn syrup. I haven’t used it so I can’t comment on how it works, or if its nutritional claims are sound or not."

                                                                  To me that implies that regular Karo has HFCS.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    It's not clear that your inference is warranted (unless we assume the manufacturer is lying):


                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                      I don't know about back in 2009, but currently Karo does not currently sell any corn syrup products to consumers with HFCS. Karo's original product, created in 1902, predates commercial HFCS production (1965), but in the 1970's they started to add HFCS to some of their corn syrup product lines -their ingredient labels would have listed HFCS as a separate ingredient from corn syrup though. They have since removed the HFCS from all of their products and all their labels have a "0g HFCS" on the front. Their current ingredient list stating "corn syrup" is correct and does not hide any HFCS. Since Karo's product is almost entirely sugar (regardless of type), I never thought of it as being particularly healthy anyway!

                                                                      1. re: khuzdul

                                                                        I think I saw it on the bottle that I just finished - but that was given to me by a neighbor who moved away 5 years ago!.

                                                                2. re: paulj

                                                                  Just to be clear, the ingredients for the pie crust pieces are enclosed in parentheses and do not include the HFCS, which appears after the close parenthesis. It follows maltodextrin, and I believe that in this instance the HFCS is there as much for its textural properties as for sweetness.

                                                                  1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                    The parentheses do identify the ingredients of the crust pieces, which quite likely were bought that way (i.e. not baked at the ice cream plant). Whether the HFCS (and maltodextrin) are part of the dried apple pieces or not, is not so clear. I suspect they are. HFCS is not a part of the ice cream base, since I could find only one other flavor with it. That, and its placement below the dried apple pieces suggests that it is used to sweeten (and reconstitute) the pieces.

                                                                3. re: rworange

                                                                  Hmm...I wonder why the label doesn't read "With a hint of distilled vinegar."

                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                I really want the ingredient app. It would be really helpful especially for allergies and children. Teachers have to be very careful and read everything parents bring in to make sure there are no nuts. How easy would it be for them just to scan it, or for parents to do it themselves before buying an item.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  I believe that you are looking for an app like ScanAvert. There is also Fooducate, but I don't believe that you can put a dietary profile into Fooducate to alert the presence of any specific ingredient. I have fooducate and not ScanAvert, but I have not really used it much as I buy very few barcoded items (pre-packaged/pre-prepared foods), and the ones that I do buy usually are items that I already am familiar with.

                                                                  1. re: khuzdul

                                                                    I think you've got it--the ScanAvert could do it. It's not inexpensive for an app but definitely a lifesaver for people w/ life threatening allergies. Thanks!

                                                                    I've seen the Fooducate but I don't buy a one size fits all "diet" and rating of foods. I do what you do--generally buy the same bar coded items when I do buy them and when I'm splurging, I just don't care what's in the bag of Cheetos.

                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                      Interesting that it makes use of a product data base maintained by
                                                                      It appears that Gladson's main customer base are those stores you are buying from - helping them plan layouts and shelf space allocation, 'driving sales and margin growth'.

                                                                      They are on to us:
                                                                      " the predictable pantomime of the health-conscious shopper: Grab the product, turn it around, squint and study the nutritional information."
                                                                      They want retailers (online, retail) to use their database to enhance your shopping experience.

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        (peers through palm fronds)

                                                                        Verrrrrry interrrrrestink.

                                                                        (ducks back into palm fronds)

                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                          How did you insert the sites into this post?

                                                                          1. re: eatingrainbows

                                                                            Just include the URL in your text. The Chow software takes care of the rest. But make sure the URL is clean, no extra punctuation at the end. Sometimes a new line immediately after causes problems, so I try to add a space.

                                                              3. I read the first 2/3 of the posts, got tired of it, and didn't really read the last 1/3 of the posts. Should I complain about not understanding all of what has been posted here to date?