Consumer Confusion About HFCS

You Vote with Your Dollar
If you ever doubted that what you purchase makes a difference, the latest news on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) might change your mind.

Americans’ consumption of corn syrup has fallen to a 20-year low. It seems consumer concerns that it is more harmful or more likely to cause obesity than ordinary sugar has driven the change in purchasing habits.

HFCS is found in processed foods: everything from salad dressings to baked goods to soft drinks. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA), which represents firms making the syrup, has been trying to improve the image of the maligned sweetener with ad campaigns promoting it as a “natural” ingredient made from corn. The ads debunk the idea that HFCS is any different from other sugars.

According to the CRA, there has been a misunderstanding about HFCS. They say, “High fructose corn syrup meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for use of the term natural.

Kaylee shucks corn, a natural food.

HFCS is made from corn, a natural grain product and contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives.” They also say that HFCS has the same number of calories as sugar, so it’s healthy to eat.

First, Ignore Facts
Of course, they ignore various independent studies, like the one from a Princeton University research team, which demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain. When lab animals had access to high fructose corn syrup, they gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even with their overall caloric intake being the same in each group. In addition, long-term consumption of high fructose corn syrup in these lab animals led to abnormal increases in their body fat, especially in their abdomen, and also a rise in triglyceride levels.

Another convenient fact to ignore is how HFCS affects leptin secretion. Physicians Mehmet Oz and Michael Roisen believe high-fructose corn syrup is the worst sweetener added to our food supply. In their book, You: The Owner’s Manual, they state: “One of the biggest evil influences on our diet is the presence of high-fructose corn syrup, a sugar substitute that itself is a sugar found in soft drinks and many other sweet, processed foods. The problem is that HCFS inhibits leptin secretion, so you never get the message that you’re full. And it never shuts off gherin, so, even though you have food in your stomach, you constantly get the message that you’re hungry.”

Then, Divert Attention
When all else fails, divert attention from the problem. Just like the wizard in Emerald City, CRA is frantically trying to divert your attention. Okay, so the “HFCS is natural campaign” didn’t do so well. Last fall, the group petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to change the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to “corn sugar.” They say a name change is the only way to clear up “consumer confusion” about the product.

Now, consumers are “confused” when they begin to change their purchasing habits. The truth is CRA is worried that food producers will opt out of HFCS for a more acceptable sweetener. More than 60 percent of brand managers would switch formulations from HFCS to sugar if they thought 21 to 40 percent of consumers made purchase decisions based on sweeteners. Many marketers believe the number of concerned consumers is close to 20 percent. Keep voting with your dollars.

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