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A New Name For Corn Syrup
September 14, 2010 9:38 AM   Subscribe

The Corn Refiners Association, which represents firms that make corn syrup, has been trying to improve the image of the much maligned sweetener with ad campaigns, and web sites, (Previously) promoting it as a natural ingredient made from corn. Now, the group has petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to start calling the ingredient "corn sugar," arguing that a name change is the only way to clear up consumer "confusion" about the product. (VIA)
posted by Blake (172 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
mmmm corn sugar! What?! Does that really sound better to anyone? Or just the fact that the word sugar is in there is supposed to make people feel better?
posted by mokeydraws at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2010


It's really interesting that the US demands that other countries take down their barriers to trade, but then continues to dump massive subsidies into its own agriculture industry. It goes without saying that if the corn industry stamps its feet over a name change for its deservedly maligned product, the government is going to bend over for them.
posted by mullingitover at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


You mean cob sauce?
posted by theodolite at 9:47 AM on September 14, 2010 [36 favorites]


Except...There already IS a substance called corn sugar. It's a form of powdered dextrose used by home brewers.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:48 AM on September 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


I rarely used canned products anymore, but on the weekend I decided to make spaghetti with tomato sauce. I didn't have a lot of time to simmer the sauce to bring out the flavour, so I bought some cans of Hunts sauce with garlic/basil etc.

While checking out the label to see what was actually inside, I was surprised, not only because salt is the number 3 ingredient, but also because instead of "sugar" or "sucrose", which used to be the chief sweetener, at least in Canada, it's now corn syrup. It was kind of icky, but I bought it anyway, probably for the last time.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 AM on September 14, 2010


... the government is going to bend over for them.
posted by mullingitover at 9:45 AM on September 14 [+] [!]


You mean cob sauce?
posted by theodolite at 9:47 AM on September 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


Just add corn...


posted by mmrtnt at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2010


If farmers were suddenly cut off from these giant subsidies what would the effects be? are they buying votes from the heartland or is it a genuine too big to fail thing?
posted by shinybaum at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2010


I vote that we start calling the cyanide that naturally occurs in apple pips "seed nectar."
posted by penduluum at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2010 [20 favorites]


Sugar Corn Pops --> Corn Pops --> Corn Sugar Pops
posted by Dmenet at 9:54 AM on September 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


It goes without saying that if the corn industry stamps its feet over a name change for its deservedly maligned product, the government is going to bend over for them.

A lot of corn farmers live in Iowa - birthplace of American presidential campaigns.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:55 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Man, now I have a hankering for a peanut butter and corn syrup sandwich.
posted by antifuse at 9:56 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dr. Nestle says she thinks the plural “corn sugars” is a better description of high-fructose corn syrup, which is actually a mixture of glucose and fructose.

Let's review the joke: An article from NYT about sugar vs. corn syrup, and the expert is Dr. Nestle.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:56 AM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Obfuscation now, obfuscation tomorrow, obfuscation forever!
posted by tommasz at 9:57 AM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Corn Squeezins.
posted by Ratio at 9:57 AM on September 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


One commercial running right now claims that sugar, corn syrup, and honey have the same calories and are processed the same by the body. This is untrue, as is the claim that 'a sugar is a sugar,' since table sugar and HFCS are chemically different (not a lot different, but they are). It's even less true if you start talking about other sugars like maltose.

The worst is that the commercial poses the question 'which one is responsible for you gaining the weight.' In all likelihood, it's the corn syrup, since that's far more ubiquitous than table sugar or honey. And so the commercial skirts the real issue: cheap, government subsidized corn syrup being put in far too many foods. As has been pointed out repeatedly, it's not so much that the HFCS itself is horrible, it's that it's everywhere.

End the corn subsidies and much of this will go away. In 2009 alone we spent almost $4 billion making corn 'cheap'. Since 1995 we've spent over $75 billion. In exchange for this 'cheap' corn we're reaping enormous, expensive consequences: obesity, CAFOs, over use of fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation water, etc. All so that a few giant agricultural and chemical companies can rake in easy government money.
posted by jedicus at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2010 [57 favorites]


Fuck you Corn Refiners Association, and your foul tasting garbage scumming up every foodstuff you pollute with it.

That is all.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


jedicus> I know firsthand that the body doesn't process corn syrup "the same" as other sugars. I know because I'm deathly allergic to it, making eating in the US a daily and dangerous adventure for me!
posted by medea42 at 10:01 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obfuscation now, obfuscation tomorrow, obfuscation forever!

"We've always been at war with Cornholia"


posted by mmrtnt at 10:02 AM on September 14, 2010 [24 favorites]


This seems pretty stupid on a number of levels: first of all, people are just going to start bashing "corn sugar" and in a few months everyone will know that "corn sugar" is a synonym for HFCS.

But really, the idea that HFCS is somehow worse for you then sucrose is pretty idiotic. They are both bad for you in large quantities. And the "HFCS is in everything" argument isn't very good either: If that HFCS were replaced with sugar it wouldn't be any better. A tiny bit of HFCS in something isn't going to hurt you, while a large amount of sugar would.

Read the nutrition info, not the ingredients. Look at the number of grams of sugars. It doesn't matter if its HFCS or Sucrose.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I should clarify that "the worst is that the commercial poses the question 'which one is responsible for you gaining the weight' and then implies that all sources of sugar are actually innocent, when in fact it's quite likely the corn syrup that is at fault since it's so ubiquitous."
posted by jedicus at 10:03 AM on September 14, 2010


Fuck you Corn Refiners Association, and your foul tasting garbage scumming up every foodstuff you pollute with it.
Have you ever actually tasted pure corn syrup? Supposedly it tastes like honey. (I have not)

But really the paranoia about this compound is just fucking ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 AM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


so I bought some cans of Hunts sauce with garlic/basil...instead of "sugar" or "sucrose", which used to be the chief sweetener, at least in Canada, it's now corn syrup. It was kind of icky, but I bought it anyway, probably for the last time.

Awhile back, my wife grabbed a couple of cans of what she thought was Contadina Tomato Paste (Ingredients: Tomatoes. Period.) Instead, she accidentally grabbed cans of Contadina Tomato Paste with Tomato Pesto which lists high fructose corn syrup second on the ingredient list. Gah! There's no need for HFCS in that shit.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:06 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't have paranoia, I would just prefer regular sugar.
posted by josher71 at 10:07 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


High fructose corn syrup, unperson. Replace, corn sugar. Doubleplusgood.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


But really, the idea that HFCS is somehow worse for you then sucrose is pretty idiotic. ... Read the nutrition info, not the ingredients. Look at the number of grams of sugars. It doesn't matter if its HFCS or Sucrose.

"A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same."

March 22, 2010
posted by mrgrimm at 10:08 AM on September 14, 2010 [49 favorites]


If that HFCS were replaced with sugar it wouldn't be any better.

But the argument is that sugar is not subsidized to nearly the same extent as corn, so it almost certainly wouldn't be replaced on a 1-for-1 basis.

Also: Coke with real sugar >> Coke with HFCS.
posted by PMdixon at 10:15 AM on September 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


Awhile back, my wife grabbed a couple of cans of what she thought was Contadina Tomato Paste (Ingredients: Tomatoes. Period.) Instead, she accidentally grabbed cans of Contadina Tomato Paste with Tomato Pesto which lists high fructose corn syrup second on the ingredient list. Gah! There's no need for HFCS in that shit.
What I don't get is why it matters that HFCS exists, as opposed to the amount of HFCS. Contadina Tomato Paste with Tomato Pesto contains 4 grams of sugar. Whereas the Plain tomato paste contains 3 grams. So we are talking about a single gram of sugar more in the form of HCFS.

Meanwhile Tomatos contain a large amount of Fructose! So if you want to avoid fructose you can't be eating anything made from tomatoes to begin with! Something made from 100% tomatos would actually have a higher fructose/glucose levels then something with added HFCS, because HFCS is usually about 50/50 or so.

This is what bugs me about the issue. People don't even think about this stuff. It's like HFCS is bad, regardless of the amount while somehow not only is Sucrose fine, but even fructose from other sources is somehow OK.

I don't think tomato paste is bad for you at all. Things with a low concentration of sugars are fine, regardless of whether its HFCS or sucrose or fructose/glucose from other fruits. But it's hard to imagine that fructose from corn is somehow worse then fructose from tomatos (even if some glucose is enzymatically converted to fructose)
posted by delmoi at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is untrue, as is the claim that 'a sugar is a sugar,' since table sugar and HFCS are chemically different (not a lot different, but they are).

To be more specific, sucrose is a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. HFCS is a blend of (unbonded) glucose and fructose, at varying percentages, although the most common is HFCS 55, which is 55% fructose.

The body breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose during digestion, and metabolizes HFCS the same as it does sucrose. This is a pretty good overview of the situation. She also addresses the plausibility of HFCS allergy.

There are perfectly good reasons to object to HFCS, since it's a heavily subsidized industrial ag product, and the universal use of it in the US directly supports all kinds of bad farm policies and practices. But the nutritional argument against it is by far the least convincing (much like the unsupported nutritional arguments in favor of organic foods), and insisting on it in the face of pretty overwhelming evidence against it makes it that much harder to get any of the good arguments to stick.
posted by rusty at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


i say get a more exact name for types of corn sugars as proof,
the salt industry has how many kinds of salt and the
public understands most of them.
posted by tustinrick at 10:17 AM on September 14, 2010


Corny Sugar, corny death
posted by nj_subgenius at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


HFCS may be the latest boogeyman, but a lot of people don't associate the word "sugar" with wholesomeness, either. I'm surprised they aren't calling it something like vegetable-derived nutritive sweetener: made with whole grains!
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:19 AM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


So, if they can petition to rename it, can we? Because I'd love to see how popular it would be as "Corn Spooge".
posted by quin at 10:19 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


delmoi: Have you ever actually tasted pure corn syrup? Supposedly it tastes like honey. (I have not)

Buy a bottle of clear Karo syrup. There's a little salt and supposedly vanilla in it, but basically it just tastes like sweet.
posted by rusty at 10:21 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


My people call it maize jizz.
posted by jefbla at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2010 [19 favorites]


It is extraordinary how much effort the food industry will put into assuring that we consume their sugary junk. Our obesity is worth big bucks to them. Guess who is pouring money into our state to support a ballot measure to roll back new taxes on candy, gum, bottled water, soda, and processed food? Those kings of HFCS, the soda industry.
posted by bearwife at 10:24 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I harvested 4 tomatoes from my garden this morning, a green pepper yesterday, about a billion jalapeños this weekend, have drying basil hanging up and will dig up the potatoes in a couple weeks.

What's this about HFCS everywhere?
posted by DU at 10:25 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


earlier this year I used a can of hunt's diced tomatoes while making a sauce. Ingredients in my diced tomatoes? Tomatoes and CORN SYRUP. Why??? How bout just giving me tomatoes?
posted by matty at 10:27 AM on September 14, 2010


"A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same."

March 22, 2010
It would be interesting to see the actual paper, though. That's just a press release. On the other hand (from wikipedia):
Bocarsly et al.[42][40][43] completed a 2010 study where groups of 10 rats were given 8% HFCS 12 hrs/day, 8% HFCS 24 hrs/day, 10% sucrose 12 hrs/day, all with ad libitum rodent chow, or only ad libitum rodent chow for a duration of 8 weeks. Then groups of 8 male rats were fed to compare diets with added sweetener in the form of HFCS to ones without added sweetener for 6 months. Then groups of 8 female rats were fed to compare diets with no or different kinds of added sweeteners to ones without for 7 months. One set of rats on HFCS 12 hrs/day gained more weight than a set of rats on sucrose 12 hrs/day in young males over the short term, but less in adult females over the long term. They also reported that the rats on HFCS 24 hrs/day did not gain a statistically significant amount of weight when compared to the rats on sucrose or chow only. Additionally, no differences in blood-glucose levels were observed. Another study was conducted for 6-7 months, and fat pads were removed from the rats and weighed. Fat pads for rats on HFCS 12 hrs/day weighed significantly more than rats on chow only, but weighed less, but not significantly so, for rats on sucrose. Fat pads for rats on HFCS 24 hrs/day did not have a statistically different weight than rats on chow only.[44]
So in other experiments it was actually the case that eating HFCS constantly resulted in no weight gain, while eating HFCS for just half a day resulted in gaining weight. So the weight gain in mice is dependent on the timing and other things. And on top of that, the 12 hour HFCS mice gained less weight then the 12 hour sucrose mice. (but the concentration of sucrose was higher)
posted by delmoi at 10:32 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar

The results might have been different if the sugar wasn't all the way up on the table.


posted by mmrtnt at 10:32 AM on September 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


I don't care if HFCS is better or worse for me, it just tastes horrible in things that should be sweetened with sugar.

In uptown Manhattan where there is a large Central American and Dominican population, the bodegas sell real, pure, hecho en mexico Coke and Pepsi in little glass bottles, sans HFCS, and they are so fucking great that I suggest everybody go out of their way to find them.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:33 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I harvested 4 tomatoes from my garden this morning, a green pepper yesterday, about a billion jalapeños this weekend, have drying basil hanging up and will dig up the potatoes in a couple weeks.

What's this about HFCS everywhere?
Yes, nevermind that tomatoes contain a lot of fructose.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on September 14, 2010


HFCS is bad because it's so cheap (subsidized) and thus an easy fix for people selling crap proucts (i.e. most of the cheaper/maistream brands in the us) to juice up flavor and processability.

HFCS is a marginally bad thing healthwise. The problem is the mainstream UBIQUITY and QUANTITY of it in everything (bread! cereal! meat! soup! yoghurt! condiments! as well as the more obvious drinks/candy) - even people that dont think they have a highly sugared diet are consuming dozens of grams daily. People that eat a lot of sweet things are consuming HUNDREDS of grams a day. (1 can of soda=50g. One candy bar (small) =30g)

If people (except allergic people) had <20g a day of it, it would be a non-issue.
posted by lalochezia at 10:37 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, nevermind that tomatoes contain a lot of fructose.

I'm not a botanist, but I think fruit sugar is fairly common in fruit.
posted by DU at 10:39 AM on September 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


"I harvested 4 tomatoes from my garden this morning, a green pepper yesterday, about a billion jalapeños this weekend, have drying basil hanging up and will dig up the potatoes in a couple weeks.

What's this about HFCS everywhere?"

While we're all so very proud of you for having the money, land, and free time to have a garden, I'd like to point out that the vegetables I buy- either at the grocery or the farmer's market- also have no HFCS in them.
posted by pedmands at 10:42 AM on September 14, 2010 [34 favorites]


Indeed. And a lot of people, especially the poor, don't have a lot of food choices or time to do things like garden.

That said, people who can and do garden are going to have effects throughout the rest of the food (system) web, not just in your own body.
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that HFCS were replaced with sugar it wouldn't be any better.

But the argument is that sugar is not subsidized to nearly the same extent as corn, so it almost certainly wouldn't be replaced on a 1-for-1 basis.


We actually consume more other refined sugar (beet sugar, honey, etc) than HFCS.
Per capita total sugar consumption for the US is ~150lbs/person.
HFCS is ~ 40 lbs/person

The problem here is the sheer size of consumption. We consume 5 times more sugar than we did a few decades ago. 25 times more compared to the late 1800's.
posted by 7life at 10:51 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


But really, the idea that HFCS is somehow worse for you then sucrose is pretty idiotic.

What? They are not the same molecules. The research doesn't seem to be conclusive at this point, but it's certainly not idiotic to think one might less healthy than the other. On the contrary, it seems pretty unlikely that two different substances could be exactly equal in how they affect your body.
posted by straight at 10:53 AM on September 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Like others have said, there's just no reason that HFCS needs to be added to everything under the sun. Because I didn't check the label, I ended up with hummus that had HFCS in it. Yes, hummus.
posted by MsVader at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2010


I will never understand why canned tomato sauce (aka "Spaghetti sauce" or "Gravy," if you're from New England) needs any sugar at all. My wife home-makes a big pot o' sauce on Sunday, using a family recipe that doesn't call for any sugar or salt, and it's a zillion times more flavorful than anything I've tasted that came from a jar or can. It's sweet, intense, with a full mouth-feel. It sits on top of a fork, and looks like something from a food magazine art director's daydream.

I normally defer to Alton Brown on all things cullinary, but I will fight him on this one - keep sweeteners out of tomato sauce.

(The secret is fresh herbs, except oregano, high-grade garlic and onion powder, and a weee bit of cayenne.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:57 AM on September 14, 2010


My major issue with corn syrup comes down to "mouth feel." When I consume products sweetened with sugar, beet sugar, or honey, they taste better and don't leave me with a sticky thirsty sensation. Corn syrup is simply not as good a sweetener when it comes to quality. This however varies based on the product. I noted recently in Mexico that Cherry Coke wasn't much better tasting with sugar, whereas regular Coke is vastly better, so maybe the cherry flavoring disguises the corn syrupy blahness.

I really hope this trend of Heritage and Throwback sodas from the major companies continues, and that Coke follows suit. I love to buy mexican coke but I don't like paying $1.50 a bottle. I won't even buy corn syrup Coke, but I'd be a big customer if they put out a sugar version (and NOT the passover coke! It doesn't taste nearly as good as Mexican coke!)
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:58 AM on September 14, 2010


I will never understand why canned tomato sauce (aka "Spaghetti sauce" or "Gravy," if you're from New England) needs any sugar at all.

I make homemade marinara sauce and add sugar to it. But it's real sugar and I do the measuring myself.
posted by DU at 11:01 AM on September 14, 2010


Previous long thread on the "corn syrup is not worse than sugar" debate.
posted by benzenedream at 11:04 AM on September 14, 2010


Helpful Definitions:

fructose - fruit sugar
lactose - milk sugar
sucrose - table sugar
glucose - Elmer's sugar
Archose - sugar sugar
adipose - flesh sugar

and so on...


posted by mmrtnt at 11:04 AM on September 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yes, nevermind that tomatoes contain a lot of fructose.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You are outraged about how people fetishize the dangers of HFCS, when "there's fructose in tomatoes". Your animus is misplaced. What you need is more information.

"The body processes sugar the same way as HFCS". Another pointless claim.

Here's the scoop. Yes, the body processes sugar and HFCS roughly similarly (not 100%, but close enough). But so what? That does not mean the health outcomes of eating a piece of fruit with 1 gram of fructose in it, and consuming 1 g of table sugar/ HFCS is the same. Because it is not. Yes, if you isolate the fructose from the fruit, it will be roughly similar. But if my aunt had wheels she'd be a trolly. Fructose in fruit is bound in a matrix, and fruit has other nutrients and chemicals in it, and it has fiber. All these factors make consumption of 1 g of fructose in fruit very different from wolfing down isolated sugar/HFCS or sugar/HFCS that has been added to a food. First the matrix. By being bound in the cellular matrix it makes the body work to extract the fructose - that takes enzymes to break the matrix, it takes digestion and the body being in a physiological mode where the fructose is then released very gradually into the blood - in sharp contrast to how the exact same fructose would be absorbed if you extracted it from the fruit and then added it on top of the fruit - you still have all the ingredients of the fruit, and the exact same fructose, but by it being not bound in the matrix, you have drastically altered how it impacts the body. In one case, it's a rapid spike, in the other it's time-released gentle curve. Countless studies show rapid blood glucose spikes are deleterious to health, and can lead to diabetes Type II and multiple other bad outcomes. Thus, on this count alone YOU ARE WRONG. There's more. The fiber in fruit also affects gastric emptying time and how quickly the fructose is processed - merely having 1 g of fructose bound with fiber and free-floating (HFCS or simply isolated), again will have different health outcomes. The addition of incredibly complex nutrients and chemicals that come with the fructose in fruit will also modify how the health outcome - f.ex. vitamin C can modify how cells process an intake of sugar (vitamin C can be protective from free radicals). So if I take my 1g of fructose in fruit, I'm taking also a cocktail of chemicals that will modify the effect of that fructose on my body. I have no such effect with an isolated HFCS.

And so on. So, please don't say that because fructose occurs in fruit it's the same as having it added (in the same quantity), or that the body "processes sugars the same way so it doesn't matter". This is WRONG, and incredibly reductive.

Do some research, and pull up some studies. I'm going to be busy over the next few days, but I'll happily come back and post some to back up what I'm saying (though really, I've posted them before, and you should also do your own research). Anyone interested - I urge you to do your own research, don't rely on anonymous posters claims (including mine) for your nutritional advice.
posted by VikingSword at 11:05 AM on September 14, 2010 [110 favorites]


I feed my cats exclusively with corn syrup, and their claws just fall off.
posted by everichon at 11:07 AM on September 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


...and NOT the passover coke! It doesn't taste nearly as good as Mexican coke!

I'd love to be invited to one of your parties.


posted by mmrtnt at 11:08 AM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't know what is so durn cornfusing about all this...
posted by Mister_A at 11:09 AM on September 14, 2010


What? They are not the same molecules.
HFCS isn't a molecule, it's two separate molecules, fructose and glucose. Sucrose is those two molecules stuck together, and they get split in your stomach pretty quickly.

People like to argue that blood sugar levels spike more quickly when the molecules are pre-split, but according to wikipedia studies show that's not the case (but those studies were funded by pepsico)

The freakout about this stuff is just way out of proportion. Anyway, I don't think they should try to change the name. It's lazy and it makes it look like they are trying to hide something, which is just going to make the problem worse.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Passover coke symbolizes how EXTREMELY CONFIDENT Moses was when leading the Jewish people out of bondage in Egypt.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:15 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been trying to avoid HFCS as much as possible, which can be pretty hard sometimes. But dammit if I don't have a really great pecan pie recipe which calls for karo syrup. And I freakin' love pecan pie. So maybe I can have pecan pie sometimes but not all the time. But if you tell me I can't ever have pecan pie, then there will be a fight.
posted by Shohn at 11:16 AM on September 14, 2010


Study finds mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup.
posted by kuatto at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I sometimes add sugar to my tomato sauce, but only if it needs it. You gotta be tasting as you are cooking!)
posted by utsutsu at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2010


Is it correct that karo syrup ("corn syrup") is NOT HFCS?
posted by pointystick at 11:19 AM on September 14, 2010


Finally this wily and precocious yet wholesome taste treat gets the attention it deserves.
Up your ass "pure cane" sugar. There's a new game in town!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:21 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I only use evaporated cane juice.
posted by sciurus at 11:24 AM on September 14, 2010


Corn syrup—high-fructose or otherwise—is a concentrated solution of one or more sugars in water, and thus is a viscous sweet liquid, appropriately called "syrup" in common parlance. "Corn sugar" would tend to imply a dry ingredient—which glucose, or sucrose, or fructose, or a mixture of those would be in the absence of water, but that is not what corn syrup is, which is why the FDA should reject the petition.

(But this is the same governmental body which allows "a recombination of ingredients all of which are originally derived from orange juice" to be labelled "100% orange juice," so I'm not holding my breath.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:24 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


It would really help improve the signal to noise ratio around here if we had fewer examples of argument from ignorance.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:27 AM on September 14, 2010


Shorter DU:

Is this something I would have to participate in modern post-industrial society to understand?
posted by Naberius at 11:28 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Have you ever actually tasted pure corn syrup? Supposedly it tastes like honey. (I have not)


I have, and it doesn't taste anything like honey. Honey tastes like the flowers it came from. Corn syrup just tastes sweet, which is why it is so easy to add it to all kinds of foods and not have flavor be affected in a noticeable way.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I harvested 4 tomatoes from my garden this morning, a green pepper yesterday, about a billion jalapeños this weekend, have drying basil hanging up and will dig up the potatoes in a couple weeks.

Go you. I've had more tomatoes out of my garden than I know what to do with, as usual, and the same goes for serranos and jalapenos. So, we made 2 good-sized batches of home-made garden salsa.

But then, goddammit, because those peppers were so zealous in their heat, we had to add sucrose just to make the stuff safe for consumption.
posted by kingbenny at 11:29 AM on September 14, 2010


...if we had fewer examples of argument from ignorance.

Save your complaints for the vaccine/autism thread.
posted by mmrtnt at 11:30 AM on September 14, 2010


I love to buy mexican coke but I don't like paying $1.50 a bottle.

This is, I think, perhaps a more salient point than simply arguing for or against HFCS. One of the differences between eating in America versus eating in Europe is that fountain drinks are essentially unheard of there. Drinks are usually also 0.2 or 0.3 liters (7-9 ounces or so) and cost almost as much as a beer. No free refills. Sodas are sweetened with sugar, sure, but you get less of it per drink and the cost structure provides a disincentive to buying a lot.

Here, you can get a 64 oz. super big gulp of Coke for less than a head of broccoli.
posted by backseatpilot at 11:39 AM on September 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I should add that by argument from ignorance, I'm mainly referring to the ones of the form

"I don't understand the difference between the molecules but they don't sound that different the way they're described on wikipedia and I can't imagine what the difference between the metabolic pathways which I know nothing about could possibly be therefore they must be the same and it's idiotic to say otherwise".

There may be examples on the other side, but the continual repetitions of the above are getting to me. VikingSword has one of the few comments here that actually suggests some grasp of the complexity of the matter and the fact that it's not settled by mistaking one's own ignorance for some kind of inverse expertise.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:41 AM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Except...There already IS a substance called corn sugar. It's a form of powdered dextrose used by home brewers.

Not only that, it's already defined by the FDA as such, 21 CFR 184.1857.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:41 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's an interesting link discussing carbohydrate metabolism by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, looking at fructose and fiber etc.

Warning: this is long - 90 minutes.

And the caveat I always add with any study or lecture etc.: this should be a point of departure, not destination. Take what you learn in this link as a starting point to explore the subject, not simply accept the conclusion without questioning it. So, let us not fall for the argument from authority here. This is a departure point.
posted by VikingSword at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


It would be interesting to see the actual paper, though. That's just a press release.

Here is the full text. The link can be found on this blog post by Marion Nestle, which gives a pretty decent analysis of the methodology. Notice how the researchers did not compare HFCS to sucrose in the long term male rat portion of the study at all (and in the short term, there were no differences between the HFCS and sucrose groups). Seriously, people need to read things instead of quoting press releases.
posted by lexicakes at 11:43 AM on September 14, 2010


Is it correct that karo syrup ("corn syrup") is NOT HFCS?

Karo Light Corn Syrup lists as its ingredients, "Light corn syrup, salt vanilla." I believe (although I can't find a cite at the moment) that high-fructose corn syrup must specifically be labelled as such, in which case you would be correct.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:45 AM on September 14, 2010


VikingSword: I mostly agree with you, but when I said the body processes HFCS and sucrose very similarly I wasn't referring to glucose in fruit. I meant that if you replaced the HFCS added to foods with sucrose added to them instead, there is very little evidence it would make any difference. I was specifically trying to compare one added sugar to a different added sugar.

So if I take my 1g of fructose in fruit, I'm taking also a cocktail of chemicals that will modify the effect of that fructose on my body.

Absolutely.

I have no such effect with an isolated HFCS. ...or an isolated sucrose, is all I was saying.
posted by rusty at 11:46 AM on September 14, 2010


Ingredients in my diced tomatoes? Tomatoes and CORN SYRUP. Why??? How bout just giving me tomatoes?

How bout just buying tomatoes?
posted by rocket88 at 11:47 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy, care to share the recipe?
posted by Tarumba at 11:48 AM on September 14, 2010


But the argument is that sugar is not subsidized to nearly the same extent as corn

Really? That is the argument? Sugar not subsidized? Really? Why do you think they invented HFCS in the first place?

But really, go ahead and keep arguing that sugar is somehow a "better" product if you must.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:48 AM on September 14, 2010


Sodas are sweetened with sugar, sure, but you get less of it per drink and the cost structure provides a disincentive to buying a lot.

This is true in Europe definitely, but in Mexico you could get a 12 ounce sugared Coke for about $0.70 usd at a drug store. Sure it's not Big Gulp cheap, but it's cheaper than U.S. convenience store or vending machine prices for bottled Coke, and far tastier. If they mass produced it in the U.S. rather than shipping it up from Mexico I'm sure they could get the price down if they wanted to. Profit margins might take a hit (I have no concept of the actual price margins involved in sugar vs corn syrup for soda sales).
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:49 AM on September 14, 2010


Let me just add, it isn't the HFCS that is the problem here, its that sweeteners are being added to everything in the first place!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:51 AM on September 14, 2010


"...the bodegas sell real, pure, hecho en mexico Coke and Pepsi in little glass bottles, sans HFCS, and they are so fucking great that I suggest everybody go out of their way to find them."

You don't have to go out of your way. I've bought Coke in 12-ounce glass bottles made with real sugar at my local Sam's Club.

By the case.

That's right, by the case. It works out to less than 75 cents per bottle!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:53 AM on September 14, 2010


The presence of corn syrup in tomato products has to do with the inherent tastelessness of many commercially grown tomatoes plus the relative cost of corn syrup vs. cane sugar. Just last evening I had some pasta with a packaged tomato sauce I was trying out, one which boasted of containing no sugar and little salt. How'd it taste? Dull. Until, that is, I sprinkled in a very small amount of sugar. Et voila! Tasty sauce.

I'm not trying to defend Big Food here, merely responding to those in the thread who seemed incredulous at the inclusion of sweetener in their tomato sauces and pastes.

Processed food is loaded with sugars and salt. This is to make it tasty. Which is why I don't usually buy it. I'd rather fork over some extra bucks for the sake of good ingredients with which to make my own flavorful, low-salt-and-sugar foods. I'd grow everything myself if I had a sunny yard to grow in, but I don't. Also many people haven't the time or inclination to do cook from scratch, and hence end up ingesting many substances which effectively sabotage their systems and pack on pounds. It's tough to prepare fresh foods all the time when you're working two jobs or aren't into cooking at all.

In a capitalist world, it's all about numbers, and moving quantities of product. People aren't willing to buy prepared foods unless they taste good and are affordable. The addition of sugars, salts, fats etc. is so that folks will buy. Period. It's hard to be competitive when your products have no flavor, and these are the cheapest additives to give or bring out taste. Factor in relative costs and you have a perfect storm for unhealthy food products. The ultimate cost to consumers in diabetes, obesity and hypertension rates is horrifying.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar

Well, "corn sugar" might taste foul, but until they can explain how they can extract sugar from tables, I'm not convinced.
posted by qvantamon at 11:57 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "Yes, nevermind that tomatoes contain a lot of fructose."

This is to my mind an argument against adding sugars to things -- if there's 3 grams of sugar (regardless of type) per serving in a jar of tomato only tomato sauce, surely adding a 4th gram (regardless of type) is going to make the end product more calorie-rich, and thus more likely to make a body fat. As HFCS is currently the #1 added sweetener in the U.S., it only follows that I'd want HFCS out of products I eat. I don't think being mindful of what I eat is paranoid.
posted by boo_radley at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


kinnakeet captures the main thing that's wrong about HFCS. It's cheaper than using ingredients that haven't had all the flavor processed out of them. If sugar and corn syrup weren't so cheap, it's possible Big Food might use ingredients that taste good without having so much salt and sugar dumped on them.
posted by straight at 12:06 PM on September 14, 2010


This argument is pretty hashed out, but I think there's a bit that hasn't been brought in.

There is an economic/political reason why corn syrup is pretty unique. It comes from corn. Corn is the ultimate commodity crop. It has been engineered to produce fantastic yields per acre. It grows throughout large swaths of the mainland US. It can be (though shouldn't be, for many reasons) fed to cows to grow them huge, fast.

It's all about corn, specifically corn. It's all about finding thousands and thousands of uses for this one single plant and producing that plant on as huge a scale as possible. No other current crop is anywhere near that versatile.

That, more importantly than any chemical/medical arguments that may or may not hold water, is why corn syrup in and of itself is unique and, in my view, so perfectly evil.
posted by gurple at 12:09 PM on September 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know firsthand that the body doesn't process corn syrup "the same" as other sugars. I know because I'm deathly allergic to it

You know that the odds of this being true are virtually nil, right?
posted by Justinian at 12:10 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


straight: The problem is that Big Food needs a hundred tons of tomatoes from 500 miles away delivered at the same time and the same state of ripeness. So we've bred tomatoes that ripen predictably, pack efficiently, and travel without damage. And to do those things they have to be relatively firm and hard, and they have to be harvested green and ripened via ethylene gas, which will make them turn red and soft but once a tomato is off its vine, it's not getting any more sugars than it already has in there. So a side effect is we've bred most of the flavor out of them, since it is located in the squishy, spoily parts of the tomato. It's not (I think) just that no one cared whether an industrial tomato tasted good or not, but that the qualities required of the industrial tomato, and the process of growing, picking, and delivering an industrial tomato, are incompatible with a good tasting tomato. Canned tomatoes don't have the flavor processed out of them, they've had it bred out of them before they got anywhere near a canning plant.

This is also why buying your tomatoes whole from the grocery store is usually not a workable solution either. They're the same industrial tomatoes, which you'll need to add sugar and salt to yourself to get them to taste like anything, unless you live near tomato growers and you're buying in tomato season, and you're fortunate enough that those growers aren't just growing industrial hybrid varieties anyway.
posted by rusty at 12:17 PM on September 14, 2010 [19 favorites]


Justinian: "You know that the odds of this being true are virtually nil, right?"

And if the odds work against you? Just stopping short of calling someone a liar about life-threatening allergies is kind of a dick move, even if you were trying to say he's confusing ingredient intolerance for allergies.
posted by boo_radley at 12:18 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


and you're fortunate enough that those growers aren't just growing industrial hybrid varieties anyway.

While that's very true, even an industrial hybrid variety tomato can be a lot better if you don't have to harvest it green and let it actually ripen.
posted by kingbenny at 12:26 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


True. Look for your local farmer's market...
posted by rusty at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2010


WHOA Whoa whoa wait a minute here. So this whole fooferaw is not about putting syrup on my corn?

Well. Carry on then. I'll, uh, just be over here. Eating my delicious corn with syrup on it.
posted by everichon at 12:37 PM on September 14, 2010


Just stopping short of calling someone a liar about life-threatening allergies is kind of a dick move, even if you were trying to say he's confusing ingredient intolerance for allergies.

Eh, I'm not calling anyone a liar. But if you can find me some credible reports of allergies to high fructose corn syrup in medical journals or whatever I'd be shocked. Actual corn allergies are extremely rare, we're talking fractions of a percent. Of those people, blind tests don't show reactions to HFCS.
posted by Justinian at 12:38 PM on September 14, 2010


You know, honestly I don't really care about the debate about the other sugar vs HFCS in terms of health.

What I care about is that I can go to the store, and read the label, and know what is in the product.

Why? Because my family has a history of severe allergies to things like corn and wheat and peanuts. Things that are in Everything in the US, it feels like.

Thus, when I go to the store, and pick up a can of soup, and read the label, and I see Corn Syrup in it, I know I shouldn't buy it. But if all I see on the label is "Sugar" I have no idea if I can eat it or not, because it might be beat sugar, or cane, or corn. And the risk that if I eat it, I might end up covered in hives, or having an asthma attack, or dead, is too high for me.

And you know what? Fuck manufacturers who put things like "Corn or Soy oil" as ingredients. PICK ONE AND USE ONE - don't go back and forth and then not tell me what is in THIS container of your product. I need to know.
posted by strixus at 12:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have no concept of the actual price margins involved in sugar vs corn syrup for soda sales

Sugar prices are fairly volatile, but in the USA, sugar is currently about $0.60 per pound and there is about 1/4lb of sugar per litre of cola, so the cost is about $0.15 per litre. HFCS costs about half as much, so it would cost about $0.08 per litre more to make cola with sugar. In other words, not a whole lot to the individual consumer, but a lot of money in aggregate for the cola producer.

Keep in mind that not only does the USA subsidize corn to a great degree, but they also impose tariffs and quotas on the import of sugar. So, the world price of sugar is about half the US price (and roughly the same as the US HFCS price). Sugar is very cheap to produce in, e.g., Brazil, but, to be fair, many other countries subsidize sugar production.

Data from the USDA
posted by ssg at 12:39 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is also why buying your tomatoes whole from the grocery store is usually not a workable solution either.

My grocery store in SoCal almost always has a great selection of heirloom tomatoes, which have made me basically unable to eat the others. They're expensive, but man are they great.
posted by Huck500 at 12:42 PM on September 14, 2010


Oh yes, and one more thing. Fuck gum manufacturers who put both corn syrup and artificial sweeteners in things. Pick one.
posted by strixus at 12:43 PM on September 14, 2010


I will never understand why canned tomato sauce (aka "Spaghetti sauce" or "Gravy," if you're from New England) needs any sugar at all.

Because the commercial sauce isn't made from perfect sun-ripened tomatoes like the ones you can grow at home. So a little sweetener to bring up their sugar levels is in principle pretty sensible.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:44 PM on September 14, 2010


strixus: If it says "sugar" it's either beet or cane. Corn syrup will always have the word "corn" in it somewhere. Also, it's really, as mentioned above, pretty much impossible for you to be allergic to HFCS even if you're allergic to corn. There's no corn in there anymore. I don't mean to be a dick, or call you a liar, or anything -- I'm just wondering, along with at least Justinian, why you believe you're allergic to it.
posted by rusty at 1:06 PM on September 14, 2010


Also the "corn or soy oil" thing is probably because the manufacturer of the food doesn't know. They buy something called "light food grade oil #6" or whatever from a bulk oil supplier, who in turn doesn't know because they buy huge quantities of corn and soy oils all the time, and test them and blend them (if necessary) to produce a bulk product with consistent properties and a consistent price. So one barrel might be corn, or soy, or both, and really no one knows exactly what's in it.
posted by rusty at 1:09 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eh, I'm not calling anyone a liar. But if you can find me some credible reports of allergies to high fructose corn syrup in medical journals or whatever I'd be shocked.
There is such a thing as fructose intolerance (just like lactose intolerance). But those people can't eat a lot of fruit either.

---
That does not mean the health outcomes of eating a piece of fruit with 1 gram of fructose in it, and consuming 1 g of table sugar/ HFCS is the same. Because it is not.
[citation needed]
Fructose in fruit is bound in a matrix, and fruit has other nutrients and chemicals in it, and it has fiber. ... First the matrix. By being bound in the cellular matrix it makes the body work to extract the fructose - that takes enzymes to break the matrix
Again [citation needed]. Where's the evidence that a 'fruit matrix' makes sugar take longer to get absorbed?

As for the other stuff. If you have food X, like tomato sauce, with all the good stuff in it, and you add HFCS you still have all the good stuff.

So there are two separate issues: normal food with HFCS added (usually instead of sugar). Healthy food doesn't become unhealthy if a small amount of HFCS is added. And secondly you have the issue of things like pop and other junk food being sweetened by HFCS. Both are bad, but they are equally bad. I rarely drink non-diet pop and find it syrupy and gross for the most part. I can't even imagine drinking it very often.
I've posted them before, and you should also do your own research). Anyone interested - I urge you to do your own research, don't rely on anonymous posters claims (including mine) for your nutritional advice.

*shrug* I've looked around at stuff. The problem is that there is so much garbage info out there. You can find people making all sorts of claims about HFCS and other things on random websites. And that's really true of pretty much anything relating to health. People who don't know anything feel free to spout off, and lots of credentialed people love spouting off on their own pet theories.
"I don't understand the difference between the molecules but they don't sound that different the way they're described on wikipedia and I can't imagine what the difference between the metabolic pathways which I know nothing about could possibly be therefore they must be the same and it's idiotic to say otherwise".
Of course, it's apparently too much work for you to bother with trying to explain what you think the difference. Also, saying "There is no real difference between X and Y" is not the same thing as saying "I don't know the difference between X and Y". My point is that I've never seen any credible research showing a difference between them. Maybe you have? by all means feel free to post a link.

---

If you want to argue that because HFCS is cheap, it gets added to more stuff then it should, that's fine. That's a reasonable argument to make. But the idea that HFCS is somehow less healthy for you then sucrose simply has not been shown. What we have instead is baseless theorizing about metabolic pathways and 'fruit matrices'.

Clearly Americans are too fat. But the fixation on HFCS is just pure lazyness. "If only we changed this one thing!" It's B.S. People need to exercise more and eat food with fewer calories overall. Replacing HFCS with Sucrose in all our food wouldn't do anything.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ingredients in my diced tomatoes? Tomatoes and CORN SYRUP. Why??? How bout just giving me tomatoes?

How bout just buying tomatoes?


Good point. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. And sometimes I know I'm not going to use them before they would go bad if they weren't otherwise canned. But should I really have to police every label? I guess so. What I'm addressing is that HFCS seems to be in a multitude of products that one just wouldn't at first glance think had HFCS in them to begin with. I suppose that goes for any product, really (there's mono-sodium glutamate in my Chinese delivery??) but HFCS is the discussion at hand.

If anything, this thread is inspiring me to break open my cupboard and separate everything into two piles, then post up a picture to see where all that unexpected HFCS is hiding out at.
posted by matty at 1:20 PM on September 14, 2010


I vote we rename corn dogs "dog corns" and put the wiener on the outside. Yes, sir, that is an issue our government should address.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:21 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: It doesn't taste nearly as good as Mexican coke!
posted by Drasher at 1:22 PM on September 14, 2010


Rusty -

I myself am not allergic to corn, but my mother is. However, I've been told by multiple doctors - particularly my own allergist - that based on my mother's history, I'm likely to develop the same allergies she has, and as suddenly as she did.

I know my mother is allergic to corn. I know all of her symptoms when exposed to corn. I know she gets very similar symptoms when exposed to HFCS. I know that allergists have told her to stay away from anything with corn, or HFCS, or even places corn products are being cooked or processed, because of her allergies. I know the fact the doctors have said these things, and I have seen what happens to her with my own eyes.

If she is not "Allergic" then whatever you want to call it, I know that corn and HFCS are two of the things that trigger her symptoms. And I know that doctors have called it an allergy, and have tried to manage it along with all of her other allergies. But terminology is fluid.

And I know that already, I have some of her allergies. And I know that one day I'm going to eat something I eat every day, and it will suddenly cause an allergic reaction. And so, I stay away from the things the doctors told me to stay away from, based on family history.
posted by strixus at 1:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "'fruit matrices'."

More generally known as a "plant matrix". Although I don't like your -- I will coin a phrase here -- eyeroll quotes around the jargon you're unfamiliar with, I can sympathize with the confusion over the term as (here I agree with you) there are a ton of ([citation needed]) crazy-ass motherfuckers all over the spectrum about health and food, and some of them have co-opted the "fruit matrix" term to sell their particular brand of sawdust and apple cores.
posted by boo_radley at 1:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Delmoi, see above article about mercury in HFCS.

The fact is that HFCS is the byproduct of an industrial process. As such, we can make many claims, but HFCS can never be as "pure" or "natural" as food that grows in dirt. The same principle applies to any heavily processed food--the fact that it is mechanically and chemically processed means that the we are settings out to achieve some baseline purity as a foodstuff. The fact that natural, unprocessed, foodstuffs are inherently at that baseline means that purity and "wholesomeness" in HFCS is just a pipedream.

Claiming a scientific equivalence between HFCS and naturally occurring sugars inside fruits and vegetables is laughable.
posted by kuatto at 1:28 PM on September 14, 2010


Possible tag lines:

"Corn sugar, the other white sweetener"

"Corn sugar. It's what's for coffee!"

"Corn sugar. It does a body sweet"

"You got corn in my sugar!"
posted by mmrtnt at 1:31 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


For the last 2 years my wife has been taking evening cooking classes, and this year she enrolled in a daytime professional chef course.

So for about the same period, our diet has mainly consisted of her homework assignments, which is almost always things made from scratch using fresh ingredients (though not necessarily special or "organic" ingredients). And this is regular mom-coulda-made-it-food, not some new age macrobiotic diet thing. And it has... buttah!

... it's outstanding. Food cooked from scratch is SO much nicer than processed, packaged food. We're both healthy people, but I'm fairly convinced that by eating less processed food and more fresh food, we're a bit healthier. Did I mention how good it is?

Of course not everyone has the time to shop for ingredients and cook from scratch. But ... it is better, and better for you.

HFCS is just one reason why processed foods aren't as nourishing as from-scratch cooking.
posted by Artful Codger at 1:33 PM on September 14, 2010


I've bought Coke in 12-ounce glass bottles made with real sugar at my local Sam's Club.

Are you sure about that? The 12 oz glass bottles I find in downtown LA are just corn syrup Coke in glass bottles. As far as I know, the only non-HFCS Coke officially distributes in the US is the Passover Coke.
posted by hwyengr at 1:38 PM on September 14, 2010


Also, it's really, as mentioned above, pretty much impossible for you to be allergic to HFCS even if you're allergic to corn. There's no corn in there anymore.

We hashed this out in an AskMe a while back. The government allows some percentage of compounds other than water, glucose, and fructose in HFCS. It's not as if it's some chemically pure mixture of those three compounds and nothing else (and it would cost hundreds of dollars a pound if it were). I don't know how likely it is that medea42 is allergic to one of the other compounds that may be present in HFCS, but I'd say it's somewhat higher than "pretty much impossible."

At the same time, these other compounds call into question the point medea42 was ultimately trying to make, that the allergy is due to the body processing the sugars in HFCS differently than sugars from other sources.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:39 PM on September 14, 2010


What is the rational basis for claiming equivalence between HFCS and the sweetness of an apple? That is, a sugar occurring within a naturally grown foodstuff, like an apple?

To make that claim is to set oneself outside of reason! It is utter hogwash and an abuse of Science. Live in the world you want to live in, don't foist dubious reasoning about as fact. From my point of view, the key philosophical debate is that concerned with "naturalness" and "purity" of foodstuffs. HFCS, or any other heavily processed industrial product, is simply not as natural as a whole food, e.g a carrot. As a corollary, there is a ton of research done on peoples who eat a traditional (read "natural") diet. With regards to diet and health, the evidence is overwhelming against the consumption of processed foods like HFCS. The fact that the government subsidizes corn production is heinous.
posted by kuatto at 1:44 PM on September 14, 2010


Any excuse to bring out these corn syrup spoof commercials is a good one by me.
posted by msbutah at 1:50 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Utsutsu, try sweetening your tomato sauce with a little grated carrot, or Non-Fructose Grated Carrot (NFGC).
posted by jleisek at 1:52 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


but HFCS can never be as "pure" or "natural" as food that grows in dirt.

Oreos can never be as pure or natural as an amanita phalloides mushroom but I sure know which I'd rather eat. HFCS could be the devil incarnate but that it is manufactured is not evidence for such a claim.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on September 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Justinian,

That is a strawman. I'm talking about plants as foodstuffs.
posted by kuatto at 2:10 PM on September 14, 2010


strixus: Thank you very much for the answer.
posted by rusty at 2:10 PM on September 14, 2010


Delmoi, see above article about mercury in HFCS.
How does that mercury level compare to other food additives? Cane sugar undergoes a lot of processing and refinement as well. Lots of fish products contain some mercury, for example. Anyway, the majority of the samples were clean, and obviously that should be fixed.
Claiming a scientific equivalence between HFCS and naturally occurring sugars inside fruits and vegetables is laughable.
Whether it makes you laugh or not has no baring on whether or not it's true.
What is the rational basis for claiming equivalence between HFCS and the sweetness of an apple? That is, a sugar occurring within a naturally grown foodstuff, like an apple?

To make that claim is to set oneself outside of reason! It is utter hogwash and an abuse of Science.
Yeah... that's just straight up crazy talk. Not really worth a response. I don't care about the epistemology of "naturalness" and "purity". Sucrose, when it's added to pop is still heavily processed.

---
And by the way this "Mexican Coke" you all think is awesome is often also made with HFCS, despite being from Mexico. There's certainly no guarantee that it's actually sugar. And either way it's still bad for you. (labels will often say "High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar")
posted by delmoi at 2:11 PM on September 14, 2010


Are you sure about that? The 12 oz glass bottles I find in downtown LA are just corn syrup Coke in glass bottles. As far as I know, the only non-HFCS Coke officially distributes in the US is the Passover Coke.

I heard it used to be up to the regional bottling companies to decide on whether they wanted to use sugar or corn syrup, and that the south was the last holdout for sugar.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:12 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Have you ever actually tasted pure corn syrup? Supposedly it tastes like honey. (I have not)

It doesn't taste like honey, and doesn't quite taste the same as sugar syrup. I've eaten/drunk all three at various times out of hypoglycemic desperation. Mostly I try to keep glucose or maltodextrin candies or drinks on hand, because I'm not sure the fructose changes my blood sugar as quickly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:19 PM on September 14, 2010


From my point of view, the key philosophical debate is that concerned with "naturalness" and "purity" of foodstuffs.

Now why don't you just take it easy, Group Captain, and please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you'd like.
posted by rusty at 2:22 PM on September 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Delmoi,

You're comparing HFCS to Sucrose added to pop? I'm talking about HFCS compared to apples, not HFCS to some other shitty industrial effluent.

rusty,

It's a funny joke but if you feel like swilling mercury (? see the linked article) among other nasty chemicals, be my guest. As the article states, no amount of mercury is considered safe and in that sense HFCS cannot be a "wholesome" or "natural" food for humans.
posted by kuatto at 2:35 PM on September 14, 2010


Hot Corn, Cold Corn.
posted by timsteil at 2:38 PM on September 14, 2010


It's a funny joke but if you feel like swilling mercury (? see the linked article) among other nasty chemicals, be my guest. As the article states, no amount of mercury is considered safe and in that sense HFCS cannot be a "wholesome" or "natural" food for humans.

If you're concerned about mercury, HFCS is the least of your problems. Your article didn't even specify a mercury level, just that it was "detectable", and only in some samples (apparently HFCS can be made without it).
Compare that to, say, fish.
posted by rocket88 at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


From great fear comes great obfuscation. Hey, whatever it takes to keep an unhealthy product on the market, right? "Corn sugar" indeed - aren't there regulations about what's called a syrup and what's called a sugar?

Next step is for them to get a mascot. I can just see the creators of Big Boy, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Kool-Aid Man and the Great Root Bear jostling for position at the trough.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:18 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Change the name? Bah. Words pick up meaning culturally.

Instead, directly inject a new meaning into the culture by changing the education standards, so that in addition to learning math, science, and cultural norms, our children discover the bounty of the industrial food system.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:21 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is a strawman. I'm talking about plants as foodstuffs.

I don't even know what the strawman is supposed to be. You're claiming that natural things are somehow intrinsically better for you than processed or manufactured things, yes?
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on September 14, 2010


I think the argument from nature should be that we've evolved alongside many of the sugars we eat, but that we didn't evolve alongside anything as refined as HFCS. Hence, the body hasn't adapted to the stuff, at least in this purity and quantity.

And while we're at it, sugar cane and sugar beets may be natural, but table sugar sure isn't. It's like comparing the coca leaf (a Peruvian altitude sickness treatment) with pure cocaine. Same ingredient, but different amounts and potency.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:25 PM on September 14, 2010


rocket88: "Compare that to, say, fish."

Fish (of any type) make for terrible sweeteners.
posted by boo_radley at 3:26 PM on September 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


These companies need to stop trying to act like they're pitching nutritious, wholesome foods and instead do something that can work. Take a page from the cigarette companies and pitch HFCS and other additives to kids as a way to be cool and rebel.

It will work really well, as generally most young people believe in eating healthy. Plus, public education already has patronizing nutrition classes. What better way to be apart from the pack than to binge on Pepsi and get Type II diabetes before you get to middle school?
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:32 PM on September 14, 2010


There's also a thread about this on reddit. I found this article by the AMA, the conclusions of which is:
Because the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose. Nevertheless, few studies have evaluated the potentially differential effect of various sweeteners, particularly as they relate to health conditions such as obesity, which develop over relatively long periods of time. Improved nutrient databases are needed to analyze food consumption in epidemiological studies, as are more strongly designed experimental studies. At the present time, there is insufficient evidence to restrict use of HFCS or other fructose-containing sweeteners in the food supply or to require the use of warning labels on products containing HFCS.
So hey "the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body". I guess the AMA is just arguing from ignorance!
posted by delmoi at 3:41 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just came in here to point out for all the folks that insist on sucrose in their pop: given acidic conditions and time, sucrose molecules will hydrolyze to invert sugar, or unbonded glucose and fructose molecules. Depending on how long it takes your can of soda to get from the manufacturer to your gut, the a lot of the sugars present may be far closer chemically to HFCS than sucrose. (This abstract mentions that 25 days into the life span of a soda, about half of the sucrose will have inverted.) Just food for thought!
posted by hegemone at 3:53 PM on September 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "So hey "the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body". I guess the AMA is just arguing from ignorance!"

And yet the AMA is far from having a particular stance on the issue: "2. That our AMA encourage independent research (including epidemiological studies) on the health effects of HFCS and other sweeteners, and evaluation of the mechanism of action and relationship between fructose dose and response. (Directive)"

So the best the AMA report summary says is "we dunno, lol".

We can also refer back to this document (the M.E. Bocarsly et al. paper) and see on page 3 that it's continual exposure to HFCS laden foods that present a problem. One week's exposure to heavy HFCS isn't an issue, but "reach[ed] statistical
significance at week 3"

Again, this is just for obesity, and not any other issues.
posted by boo_radley at 3:57 PM on September 14, 2010


We can also refer back to this document (the M.E. Bocarsly et al. paper) and see on page 3 that it's continual exposure to HFCS laden foods that present a problem. One week's exposure to heavy HFCS isn't an issue, but "reach[ed] statistical
significance at week 3"


part of the problem with this study is that they didn't really test sucrose the same way they did HFCS. They test 12 hour HFCS, 24 hour HFCS and 12 hour sucrose for 8 weeks. That experiment showed that mice fed HFCS 12 hours got fat, but HFCS for 24 hours didn't get fat. That just seems kind of random.

They did a second six month experiment with males testing only HFCS, testing for 12 and 24 hours. But there's no sucrose comparison. The male mice did end up getting fatter. That's not surprising, but it doesn't prove anything about HFCS vs. Sugar in males over a six month period, because sugar wasn't tested in this experiment.

The third experiment is even more confusing. There were four groups: 12-h sucrose, 12-h HFCS and 24-h HFCS and the control.

The 24-h HFCS gained more weight, which makes sense, but there was no 24 hour sucrose group to compare it too

But when you look at the 12 hour groups the mice fed HFCS gained less weight.

---

So if you were going to try to apply this research to humans directly, you would have to conclude that HFCS is more fattening then sugar in men (depending on what time of day they eat it) and that sugar is more fattening in women.

---

The bottom line, really, is that the two chemicals are actually similar and that there is some slight variation - slight enough that it's affected by gender and what time of day you eat. But I think given the random fluctuation here the shift from mice to humans would have a far greater impact then the 12h/24h thing and the difference between male mice and female mice. To me it really just looks like random fluxuation in the results.

Only ten mice were used in each group.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And by the way, if there are metabolic differences, why should it be assumed that HFCS is worse then sucrose? The research seems to show that sucrose is slightly worse for female rates over a seven month period. Maybe sugar is slightly worse for you then HFCS?
posted by delmoi at 4:25 PM on September 14, 2010


This is what bugs me about the issue. People don't even think about this stuff. It's like HFCS is bad, regardless of the amount while somehow not only is Sucrose fine, but even fructose from other sources is somehow OK.

My objections, actually, can be summed up with this story.

Let's just look at soda alone in this example. Once upon a time, soda used sugar. Let's say that the sugar-per-ounce-of-soda ratio cost the soda companies about 5 cents. (Note: I am TOTALLY pulling figures out of my ass here.) So, soda companies charged about 50 cents for an 8-ounce bottle of soda, and about two dollars for the "family size" bottle -- about 32 ounces. Sometimes they tried raising the price of the 8-ounce bottle to a buck, butthat felt a little too expensive for such a puny amount. But 8 ounces was a nice, good single-serving size, just enough for when you were thirsty, so they still did a brisk business that way. As for the "family size," 32 ounces wasn't a lot, but it was still just enough for Mom, Dad, Junior and Uncle Sid to each have a glass when they all got takeout pizza.

Then -- suddenly they could use HFCS in soda. And it was way cheaper -- about 1 cent per ounce. Yay!

For a while, they just left things the way they were, and collected the extra 4 cents' profit that way. But then they decided to try attracting extra business -- and hit upon the idea of making the bottles bigger. Suddenly the 8-ounce bottle was replaced with a 20-ounce bottle, still for 50 cents. And the 32-ounce "family size?" Now it's 2 liters. Still only two bucks.

Wow! Suddenly you can get way more soda when you want to run to the corner store for a quick bottle of coke. Perfect! And when Mom, Dad, Junior and Uncle Sid get takeout pizza? Everyone can have TWO glasses now, even when Uncle Sid goes back for thirds. And it's for the same price! Awesome!

...But there was one GOOD thing about the 8-ounce and the 32-ounce bottles -- they were true reflections of the SERVING size. 8 ounces is actually a little more than the recommended "serving size" of soda, but only by 2 ounces. Splitting the 32-ounce soda bottle four ways, and everyone gets about 8 ounces. The size of the bottles put a good limit on everyone trying to get more. Replace the 8-ounce bottle with a 20-ounce, though, and now your average "single-size" bottle of soda is nearly FOUR times the recommended serving size. The 2-liter bottle of soda, split four ways, is TWICE the recommended serving size for each person.

Sure, the 2-liter bottle and the 20-ounce bottle have "recommended servings per bottle" posted on the label. But -- do you know a SINGLE PERSON who drinks only part of the standard 20-ounce bottles of Coke they sell in corner stores, then re-caps it and saves the rest for later? No - people drink the whole thing in one go. Because we have both been trained by legions of parents to "finish your whole meal" and "clean your plate" and what-not, and we've also gotten accustomed to the "little bottle of coke is all for me" concept.

And that's just soda. Now multiply that across everything else HFCS is in.

So -- the HFCS lobby created a situation through which food manufacturers could exploit both our inclination to "cleaning our plates" and our love of "finding a bargain", and have trained us to re-think our personal conception of what "a single serving size" really is. The ACTUAL serving sizes haven't changed any -- only our ASSUMPTIONS about what "a normal serving size" is has changed. As someone what a "single serving" of anything is, and they're probably going to estimate it much higher than they used to. And that is because the HFCS lobby could GIVE us more food in our "single serving sizes", without any regard for whether we SHOULD be getting more.

....Think I'm talking out my ass? Ask yourself where 8-ounce bottles of soda have been for 20 years?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 PM on September 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Compare that to, say, fish.

Good lord, who still eats fish? That ship has sailed. Forever.

Nevertheless, few studies have evaluated the potentially differential effect of various sweeteners, particularly as they relate to health conditions such as obesity, which develop over relatively long periods of time

Dood, we're just saying it's not idiotic. Some signs point to it contributing slightly more to obesity than sugar. We don't know yet, but there could be an extra demerit to using HFCS as sweetener, and on a large, global scale, that's important info.

Vitamins were only really discovered last century. There's stuff we don't know about food and eating. Lots of it.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:16 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Justinian,

You can't select a poisonous substance and compare it to HFCS and then proclaim "See HFCS is better than a poison." The fallacy is that we do not have to choose a poison, we can choose a healthy, nutritious, natural food as a source of sugars and compare that to HFCS.
posted by kuatto at 5:17 PM on September 14, 2010


"....Think I'm talking out my ass? Ask yourself where 8-ounce bottles of soda have been for 20 years?

If that's where the 8 ounce bottles were hiding, I think the disaccharides have hydrolyzed by now.

Agreed, portion size is a huge component of the obesity problem
posted by benzenedream at 5:30 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


kuatto: The funny thing is, I totally agree with you. I mean, I buy virtually no processed food at all. I'm right there. But the way you put it, it just sounds nutty. I'm not really even sure why. I think it's something about repeating "natural" (in either quotes or italics) and "purity" and "wholesomeness" -- all words that our lovely industrial food marketing system have completely debased beyond meaning, by the way -- that does it. You gotta work on your messaging.
posted by rusty at 5:32 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, the little 8oz Coke cans are back. I see them everywhere now. It seems like a lot of other people had no real use for 20 ounces of soda either.
posted by rusty at 5:38 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


rocket88: "How bout just buying tomatoes?"

Canned tomatoes are usually canned in or very near the field and the tomatoes are therefore vine ripened. Fresh tomatoes you buy in a store are usually picked slightly green and ripened off the vine. Blind taste testers can usually tell the difference (according to Alton Brown anyway) so canned tomatoes have more flavor than store tomatoes.

Want fresh AND tasty? Grow your own.
posted by Bonzai at 6:03 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had the Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew real sugar limited editions. You could taste the difference. and this is from someone who could really give a shit about anything else, food-wiase.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


A taste of dystopian future, 'real sugar, limited editions.' Otherwise, sweet!
posted by sfts2 at 7:57 PM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, the little 8oz Coke cans are back. I see them everywhere now.

I do too. And I point to a greater consumer awareness of the "business" side of agri-business.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on September 14, 2010


kuatto: But you're begging the question. You're saying that naturally occurring sugars must obviously be better for you than HFCS. Because they're natural, and naturally occurring substances must be better than manufactured ones.

I'm not comparing HFCS to death cap mushrooms, I'm pointing out that whether a substance is natural or not tells us nothing about whether it is more or less healthy than a non-naturally occurring substance. That's the conclusion you're assuming.
posted by Justinian at 9:47 PM on September 14, 2010


One problem is that every country needs the ability to feed itself if global trade stopped tomorrow. If we didn't subsidize farmers, we'd sustain pretty serious loss of life given even a mildly effective blockade. And remember, you can't just turn on and off farming capacity like a switch.

Another problem, much more interestingly pernicious, is that other countries depend on American corn prices. When 3% of the corn supply went to a silly experiment with biofuels, tortilla prices in Mexico doubled.

Eating is inelastic.

Personally, I'm sort of annoyed that it's HFCS _or_ Sugar ("evaporated cane juice") in everything, and not simply Sucralose. Tastes great to me, and can be hacked into most prepared foods.
posted by effugas at 11:52 PM on September 14, 2010


Yeah! Screw the corn growers because they are in worthless fly-over country anyway, amirite?
posted by IvoShandor at 2:00 AM on September 15, 2010


OK, so a bit snarky. Sorry. Seems to be too much hate in here for me. I grew up around a lot of farmers, and many depend on subsidies to live, there are far worse government drains than agricultural subsidies. Perhaps a better system of doling them out as opposed to elimination of something a lot of people depend on?
posted by IvoShandor at 3:08 AM on September 15, 2010


Seems to be too much hate in here for me. I grew up around a lot of farmers, and many depend on subsidies to live, there are far worse government drains than agricultural subsidies.

I'll admit that my sole source for this is The Omnivore's Dilemma, but it strikes me that government subsidies aren't structured in a way that helps that much overall, though. It's my understanding that subsidies are BIG for corn, but if a farmer wanted to say "you know what, I'd like to scale back on the corn and start growing about an acre of, say, rice/parsnips/cucumbers/herbs/anything that's not corn alongside still growing some of the corn" it would have an ENORMOUS impact on his subsidies, so he just grows corn.

Subsidies help the individual farmer, but they also seem to be keeping him locked into this cycle of growing nothing but corn, which in turn feeds the HFCS lobby -- which was in turn created because we HAD a surplus of corn so the government was pressured to let food manufacturers use HFCS in everything, so then they could turn to the farmers and say, "see, now we need corn," so they got stuck growing corn and nothing but corn, and...

The fact that there are subsidies isn't the problem. The way that subsidies program is RUN is the problem. We need to subsidize not just corn, but also tomatoes, watermelons, soybeans, wheat, quinoa, beets, etc. We need to subsidize the FARMERS, not the CROP.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on September 15, 2010


Justinian,

I'm only asserting a basis for comparison. If we cannot select nourishing foods for comparison, then for the purposes of this argument you'll simply select a poison every time. As to whether that food is better for you than HFCS, well that is to be hashed out yet. I'm giving vague hints and assertions that it is.

rusty,

I'm sorry but I am not a marketer or advertiser. It's too bad that you can't understand me because of that?
posted by kuatto at 5:30 AM on September 15, 2010


straight: The problem is that Big Food needs a hundred tons of tomatoes from 500 miles away delivered at the same time and the same state of ripeness. So we've bred tomatoes that ripen predictably, pack efficiently, and travel without damage. And to do those things they have to be relatively firm and hard, and they have to be harvested green and ripened via ethylene gas, which will make them turn red and soft but once a tomato is off its vine, it's not getting any more sugars than it already has in there. So a side effect is we've bred most of the flavor out of them, since it is located in the squishy, spoily parts of the tomato. It's not (I think) just that no one cared whether an industrial tomato tasted good or not, but that the qualities required of the industrial tomato, and the process of growing, picking, and delivering an industrial tomato, are incompatible with a good tasting tomato. Canned tomatoes don't have the flavor processed out of them, they've had it bred out of them before they got anywhere near a canning plant.

This is also why buying your tomatoes whole from the grocery store is usually not a workable solution either. They're the same industrial tomatoes, which you'll need to add sugar and salt to yourself to get them to taste like anything, unless you live near tomato growers and you're buying in tomato season, and you're fortunate enough that those growers aren't just growing industrial hybrid varieties anyway.


That's true. Back in the good old days of industrialization, Libby (I think) got their engineers together and told them to develop a machine that can pick tomatoes. After many failed attempts, the engineers said "this would be easier if you developed a tomato that can be picked". And they did.
posted by gjc at 5:48 AM on September 15, 2010


I had the Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew real sugar limited editions. You could taste the difference. and this is from someone who could really give a shit about anything else, food-wiase.

I did too. I'm not sure it even tasted different, but that it had better mouth feel. The Dr. Pepper more than the Mountain Dew, because The Dew has some kind of brominated oil in it to make its mouth feel better.
posted by gjc at 5:59 AM on September 15, 2010


Just to clarify, we must focus our attention on the debate: Is HFCS healthy relative to a "natural" and "wholesome" diet? Rusty, you make the good point that these terms have been bastardized. But that should only reinforce the need to redefine, generally reinvigorate these words.

If we cannot make this distinction, about that which is "wholesome" and that which is not, then we are doomed to a distorted relativism, one where we are comparing HFCS to the industrial sucrose and death-cap mushrooms.

One possible way around this dilemma of language (bastardized language) is to simply drop "natural" and "wholesome" from the lexicon of this debate and utilize a traditional diet as an empirical relative basis for comparison. how bout that?
posted by kuatto at 6:06 AM on September 15, 2010


You folks apparently drinkwaay too much soda (aka 'pop' in Canada)!

My brother is seriously overweight and a borderline diabetic, due in part to his soda intake.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:15 AM on September 15, 2010


I had the Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew real sugar limited editions. You could taste the difference. and this is from someone who could really give a shit about anything else, food-wiase.

The Mountain Dew, at least, was a completely different recipe. They didn't simply replace HFCS with sugar.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:39 AM on September 15, 2010


Every last one of those heavily subsidized farmers is a libertarian.
posted by Artw at 6:43 AM on September 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


My brother is seriously overweight and a borderline diabetic, due in part to his soda intake.

Man, it kills me to see people like that. I met one guy last summer in exactly the same situation (pre-diabetic, massively overweight). He needed two canes to get around, and when I was talking to him, he was holding two giant Big Gulp size sodas. ?!?!

I like pop, always have, always will. My tastes are more refined now--Bundaberg or Fresh Ginger (i'm only a gourmet when it comes to junk food or beer/wine) instead of Faygo--but I still like it. However, I've always wanted a national leader/president to stand up at say "Hey you kids. Stop drinking so much soda and drink more water!"

Michelle Obama is probably the biggest reason I'm thinking about voting for Barack in 2012.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on September 15, 2010


...and NOT the passover coke! It doesn't taste nearly as good as Mexican coke!

I finally found and purchased some of that much-vaunted Mexican coke with "sugar" in the label a couple weeks back. At first I noticed the difference the sugar made, and started dreaming of drinking real coke again. Then I began to notice the aftertaste ... and decided that the Mexican water nullifies the sugar advantage.
posted by Twang at 9:57 AM on September 15, 2010


Clearly Americans are too fat.

You talk about not jumping to conclusions in the absence of evidence or in the face of conflicting evidence, but you do know that this is a contested claim? There's evidence that people are not, on average, that much bigger than they used to be--one study cited in, I think, the book Fat Politics (though it could have been The Obesity Myth, or something else even, but it seems like something more likely to be in Fat Politics) found that, while the largest Americans (the truly super-sized) are bigger than the largest Americans used to be, the vast majority of Americans are maybe 7 pounds heavier than they used to be. There was a also a big spike in the number of "fat" Americans when the cut-off weights for "overweight," "obese," etc, were redefinied--mostly at the behest of the diet industry.

I'm not trying to derail the argument, really, just to point out that a thing people so often say as if it's self-evident is actually not all that self-evident, according to some who have studied the issue more thoroughly than you or I are ever likely to do.
posted by not that girl at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2010


kuatto: Just to clarify, we must focus our attention on the debate: Is HFCS healthy relative to a "natural" and "wholesome" diet?

I assume you mean excess added HFCS in processed foods, not just, like, any intake of it? Of course it isn't. That's entirely (I think) uncontroversial. The debate in here has mainly been whether added HFCS is worse than added sucrose from beets or cane, and I (and several others, including Marion Nestle) say it doesn't make any difference, as far as we know. Excess added sugars, and deceptively large amounts of calories from sugar in people's diets, which tends to be a hallmark of eating on the more processed end of the spectrum, appear to to be the problem, regardless of the source of the sugars.
posted by rusty at 12:09 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


kuatto: Just to clarify, we must focus our attention on the debate: Is HFCS healthy relative to a "natural" and "wholesome" diet?

wholesome & natural diets shouldn't include potentially contracting type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or scarring in the liver, eh?

what really gets my goat is that in the production of corn syrup, GMO corn is mostly used which brings it's own slew of issues.
hell, a large percentage of corn in US is GMO, period, which has recently shown organ toxicity.
posted by talaitha at 1:33 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


talaitha: the data analysis you are linking to is generally considered by independent analysis to be faulty. See this article for instance.
posted by Justinian at 2:38 PM on September 15, 2010


what really gets my goat is that in the production of corn syrup, GMO corn is mostly used which brings it's own slew of issues.

This is not really an issue at all. HFCS is mostly sugar and water. Any amount of actual corn matter left behind is pretty much negligible, so it doesn't matter what kind of corn it came from.
posted by lexicakes at 7:16 PM on September 15, 2010


wholesome & natural diets shouldn't include potentially contracting type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, or scarring in the liver, eh?

All your links here are to studies about fructose, not high fructose corn syrup. All sweeteners contain fructose, even natural sweeteners like honey, fruit juice, and agave nectar. None of these results are specific to HFCS, and for researchers to imply that (or state it directly) in their press releases is extremely irresponsible and misleading.
posted by lexicakes at 7:24 PM on September 15, 2010


delmoi - kindly stop saying "mice". The study examined rats. And there's nothing wrong with a group n of 10. That's a perfectly adequate group size; many studies use an n of 8, or 6, and you can sometimes get away with 4 depending on the type of study - that's what a power analysis is for, to tell you the minimum number of subjects required to obtain valid results. Animal use committees won't let scientists just randomly pick a number for group sizes; there are regulations and ethical considerations in place to limit use to the smallest number necessary. Even with an n of 10 I'm kind of surprised the error bars are as low as they are, given the animal-to-animal variability usually seen in feeding studies. But the rats were from Taconic, which in my experience seems to mean less variability total in weight gain profile than, say, Charles River. So maybe that explains it.

For what it's worth, I've met Bart Hoebel at the annual meeting for the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. He's well-known and well-respected in the field. His article was peer-reviewed. Wikipedia, however useful it can be, was not reviewed by anyone and quite likely the HFCS page is going to be targeted for editing by any number of people with strong political and personal motivations.

(Whether the study itself was well-designed is possibly a valid point. You'd be surprised at the number of times researchers find out halfway through a study that the design wasn't optimal, and have to either try to publish it as-is, or repeat it before writing it up. My main concern with the study is that there are much better ways of checking body fat, and if I had planned the study I would have wanted body composition measures as often as possible. In my mind, weight gain is not as important a measurement as the change in lean to fat mass ratio as a result of treatment.)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:47 AM on September 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


The New York Times editorial board approves of this change.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:51 PM on September 16, 2010


Grits milk.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:28 PM on October 9, 2010


Or, you know, just call it what we do in Canada: glucose/fructose.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:30 PM on October 9, 2010


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