Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food Fight: The Battle Over Sweeteners

There hasn't been such a costly fight in the cornfields since the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.

In this case, it's the battle of the Corn Refiners Association. The trade group, made up of seven U.S. agri-giants, has spent a reported $30 million over the last nine months to convince everyone that high-fructose corn syrup, once a favorite sweetener, is just as healthy as sugar. So far, the ad campaign--on TV and in print--seems to be falling on deaf ears. This month, Snapple and Pepsi (nyse: PEP - news - people ), for example, launched "natural," sugar-sweetened versions of their drinks, caving to consumer demands for supposedly healthier ingredients.

It's a tough fight for the old CRA, which is trying to restore a tarnished image. The group won a technical victory last summer, when the Food and Drug Administration ruled in favor of calling the sweetener natural. Trouble is, soft-drink makers only seem to be slapping on the "natural" label for beverages sweetened with sugar.

The CRA seems to be losing on another, more critical, front. Back in 2004, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a paper written by Louisiana State University biomedical professor Dr. George Bray, linking high-fructose corn syrup to obesity. The body doesn't digest or metabolize fructose in the same way it does glucose (simple sugar), the paper said. Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin or leptin production, two things that regulate food intake and body weight. Take in high-fructose corn syrup, the paper claimed, and you consume too much--and put on the pounds.

Read the Entire Article at alibaba.com

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