Aug 12, 2008 Published under Health, Innovation, KIND Snacks, Marketing

A new site just launched that analyzes food product labels for ingredients that may or may not be good for you.  Too many items pose as "healthy" while containing ingredients like high fructose corn syrup which labelwatch exposes here as not healthful.

The site is not perfect yet; it’s search engine is clunky; and it still is missing KIND Fruit & Nut bars, which are the #1 Healthy Snack bar line (in terms of market share growth of entire space over each of the last 3 years, and #3 in overall size already in natural industry, according to SPINS, IRI and Nielsen).  But it is a good start.

High Fructose Corn Syrup,

Cautionary Ingredient – This ingredient appears to be problematic.

What it is:

Sweetener: Soft drinks, other processed foods.

What we know:

Our consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has soared since around 1980. Thats because this sweet syrupy liquid is cheaper and easier for some companies to use than sugar. HFCS has been blamed by a few people for the obesity epidemic, because rates of obesity have climbed right along with HFCS consumption. But thats an urban myth. There isnt a shred of evidence that HFCS is any more harmful than sugar. Were consuming way too much of both.

Some people think that HFCS is mostly fructose, and fructose probably does play a role in obesity. However, HFCS, on average, is about half fructose and half glucose exactly the same as ordinary table sugar, sucrose, when sucrose is metabolized by the body. When sugar is (or, as is generally the case, was) used in soft drinks, much of it was broken down to glucose and fructose right in the bottle. If the big soda companies werent using HFCS, theyd be using regular sugar, and the extra cost would only be a couple of cents per can, a difference that likely would have little effect on consumption.

HFCS starts out as cornstarch. Companies use enzymes or acids to break down the starch into its glucose subunits. Then other enzymes convert different proportions of the glucose to fructose. The resulting syrups contain as much as 90 percent fructose, but most HFCS is 42 percent or 55 percent fructose. In 2005, about 77 pounds of corn sweeteners, mostly HFCS, and 63 pounds cane and beet sugar were produced per capita (U.S.). A total of 142 pounds of all caloric sweeteners, down from the 1999 high of 151 pounds, was produced per person. (Production does not equal actual consumption, because some sugars, or the products in which they are used, are lost or discarded in the distribution chain.)

Other Names:

Fructose Corn Syrup; Fructose-Glucose Syrup; corn syrup, Glucose Fructose Syrup, Glucose Syrup; Crystalline Fructose; Fructose Glucose Syrup; Fructose Corn Syrup Solids

Center For Science In The Public Interest Rating:

CUT BACK. Not toxic, but large amounts may be unsafe or promote bad nutrition.

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