There is an epic battle being fought in science labs, Congress, on the TV airwaves and in your kitchen over the use of high-fructose corn syrup in everyday products, such as ketchup.
High-fructose corn syrup has been demonized by many as the reason our children are so obese. But it has also been cleared of any wrong doing by respected scientists.
Regular folks are protesting the ingredient on Facebook. The companies that produce and use corn syrup have defended their product in high-profile TV ad campaigns. (The ad goes something like: You’re not serving high-fructose corn syrup? Well why not? What’s wrong with it? Silence from the other person cause they don’t really know. They’ve just heard it’s bad.)
Some of companies are calling uncle and are removing it from their products.
The theory being that even if it’s not truly bad for you, if the perception is that it’s bad then why not just go ahead and replace it with real sugar. Well the reason is cost. Sugar costs about 40 percent more to use in a product than corn syrup.
Despite that cost increase, products like Hunt’s ketchup, Gatorade, several Kraft salad dressings, Wheat Thins, Ocean Spray and some Pepsi products are examples of companies switching back to sugar. (Some companies are absorbing the extra cost at least for now, just to get the high-fructose corn syrup label off their products.)
“High-fructose corn syrup is singled out because it is still one of the biggest sources of calories in our diet and because it is made from corn — a lavishly subsidized crop that appears, in one way or another, in so much of our food….”
“According to the NPD Group, a market research firm, more than half of all Americans — 53 percent — now say they are concerned that high-fructose corn syrup may pose a health hazard, up from 40 percent in 2004….”
“Leading scientists, however, say that the product, made when various chemicals convert corn starch into syrup, is not any worse than sugar. Both sweeteners are made up of roughly equal amounts of glucose and fructose, they say….”
There are some advocates that still think corn syrup is the cause of obesity – they claim that our bodies don’t know how to metabolize it in such large quantities.
“In the recent Princeton study that gave support to his side, one group of rats was given access to high-fructose corn syrup, while another got sugar-sweetened drinks. The study found that rats that gulped lots of drinks with high-fructose corn syrup gained more weight than those that had the sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”
So where do you stand on the high-fructose corn syrup battle? Do you care if your kids are eating it? Did you realize it was in so many products – like ketchup and salad dressings? (I didn’t.) Are you confused enough by the argument that you would prefer it just be taken out to avoid any risk? Or do you feel like there’s not enough scientific support that it is bad to make you willing to pay more for sugar-based products?