Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Citizens for Health Launches New Website to Take on Food Labeling Issues

FoodIdentityTheft.com Alerts Consumers to Deceptive Product Packaging

As the nation's food integrity is under attack by profit-hungry corporations, and consumers are being targeted by deceptive packaging practices, Citizens for Health, one of the nation's most respected consumer advocacy groups, has launched a new website, FoodIdentityTheft.com, to alert and inform Americans about misleading labeling on many food, beverage and health products.

Since 1993, Citizens for Health, "the Voice of the Natural Health Consumer," has provided information about the threats posed by hundreds of everyday products. By supplying facts, links to news stories and videos, legislative updates and more, the non-profit organization helps shoppers make informed decisions about the products they buy for themselves and their families.

"Many consumers believe that the U.S. government will protect us from false advertising or stop corporations from making unproven claims about their products," said FoodIdentityTheft.com Senior Editor, Linda Bonvie. "But the truth is, corporations have a huge influence in Washington. We as consumers have to protect ourselves, stay informed, and tell our legislators and government agencies that we won't accept being lied to."

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Report links farm subsidies, obesity

Are farm subsidies making us fat?

Billions in taxpayer dollars are going to support high fructose corn syrup and three other common food additives used in junk food, according to a report released this week by the California Public Interest Research Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, both consumer advocacy groups.

The report, "Apples to Twinkies: Comparing Federal Subsidies of Fresh Produce and Junk Food," makes the case that federal farm subsidies are helping feed the nation's obesity epidemic. The research shows that from 1995 to 2010, $16.9 billion in federal subsidies went to producers and others in the business of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch and soy oils.

"If these agricultural subsidies went directly to consumers to allow them to purchase food, each of America's 144 million taxpayers would be given $7.36 to spend on junk food and 11 cents with which to buy apples each year - enough to buy 19 Twinkies but less than a quarter of one Red Delicious apple apiece," CALPIRG officials said in a statement.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fight to Change the Name of High Fructose Corn Syrup

The Corn Refiners Association, a group that protects the interests of HFCS makers, is trying to change the product's name to "corn sugar"

I worry a lot about the ability of the FDA to set limits on the excess marketing practices of food companies. The latest cause for worry is the seemingly trivial fuss over what to call High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

HFCS is not especially high in fructose (its fructose content is about the same as that of table sugar) but the term has gotten a bad reputation and food companies have begun to replace this sweetener with table sugar.

The Corn Refiners Association, the trade association that protects the interests of the makers of HFCS thinks it can solve that problem by getting the FDA to allow a name change from HFCS to "corn sugar" (see my previous comments on this issue). The FDA has this request under consideration.

In the meantime, the Corn Refiners are using "corn sugar" in advertisements on two websites, cornsugar.com and sweetsurprise.com.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why is Junk Food Being Subsidized???

How many tax dollars have been spent subsidizing junk food ingredients? A new report released today by U.S. PIRG paints a clear picture of how agricultural subsidies have been distributed, with a large portion -- $16.9 billion since 1995 -- going toward corn and soy-based additives found in most processed foods, leaving hardly any subsidies for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Most of the corn and soybeans we see in America are not eaten as is. In fact, only about one percent of U.S.-produced corn is the sweet corn people directly consume. Most of the crops are used to fatten up livestock in factory farms, turned into biofuel, or processed into sweeteners and starches. The sweeteners and starches (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils), benefiting from that $16.9 billion in the last 16 years (or $1.06 billion a year) is what has helped keep unhealthy snacks like Twinkies so cheap. Subsidies for healthy food, you ask? They don't get the same favored treatment. U.S. PIRG's report illustrates:

Apples are the only fresh fruit or vegetable receiving significant federal subsidies. Since 1995 the entire complex of federal agricultural programs has spent only $262 million on apples, and even this modest support is an overstatement of the subsidies going to fresh apples -- some of the apple crop is itself processed into forms like apple juice or applesauce which in turn may be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Surviving The 21st Century - Sugar Sugar - Radio Round Up

The team of Mannie Barling, Ashley F Brooks and Simon Barrett decided to focus our attention on sugar.

The propaganda arm of the High Fructose Corn Syrup industry is the Corn Refiners Association. Their current hogwash is the slogan Sugar is Sugar. In their eyes it matters not where the sugar comes from, sugar is sugar, all sugar is the same. Cane sugar, Beet Sugar, Corn sugar, they are all identical.

This is a clearly ridiculous statement. It does not take a bunch of PhD’s to figure out that there are substantial differences.

Today’s sugar marketplace is further complicated by the seemingly endless number of artificial sweeteners on the market.

The question that we asked ourselves was what are the pro’s and con’s of these different sugars? Are some sugars better for you than others? Or was the question are some sugars less harmful than others?

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Americans Eat 42 Pounds of Corn Syrup Annually—How Bad Is That?

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic reblogged a visualization of America's annual eating habits. According to Thompson's graphic, besides almost 85 pounds of fat and oils and 110 pounds of red meat, the average American consumes about 42 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup annually. Forty-two pounds is the size of about six newborns, and pretty gross prima facie. But just how bad for you is it?

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and that men consume no more than nine, which amounts to about 100 and 150 calories, respectively. Forty-two pounds is the equivalent of 3,865 teaspoons of corn syrup, or almost 11 per day. Nobody should be eating that much added sugar.

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5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You

If you can't convince them, confuse them.
--Harry Truman

The current media debate about the benefits (or lack of harm) of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in our diet misses the obvious. The average American increased their consumption of HFCS (mostly from sugar sweetened drinks and processed food) from zero to over 60 pounds per person per year. During that time period, obesity rates have more than tripled and diabetes incidence has increased more than seven fold. Not perhaps the only cause, but a fact that cannot be ignored.

Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception, and they sow the seeds of complacency. These are used skillfully through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association's attempt to dispel the "myth" that HFCS is harmful and assert through the opinion of "medical and nutrition experts" that it is no different than cane sugar. It is a "natural" product that is a healthy part of our diet when used in moderation.

Except for one problem. When used in moderation it is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Is Your Dinner 'All Natural'?

According to Ricardo Carvajal, a former FDA lawyer now in private practice counseling food and drug makers, the FDA generated a firestorm in 2008 when it pronounced that high-fructose corn syrup is not "natural."

From ice cream to salad dressing, and potato chips to pet food, health-conscious grocery shoppers can choose an "all natural" version of just about anything.

But one item ingredient-conscious consumers can't pluck off the shelves: an official definition of "natural."

A recent spate of consumer lawsuits allege that food companies are playing fast-and-loose with the "all natural" designation, effectively committing fraud against the shopping public. But determining fraud becomes complicated when the federal government itself concedes the rule book is vague.

"The word hasn't been defined well enough at all, so for years companies have been able to get away with basically defining it themselves," said Michele Simon, an author and food-policy expert.

Wesson cooking oils, Kashi cereals, Arizona-brand drinks and an alcoholic beverage called Skinnygirl Margarita are among the products named in recent lawsuits, with allegations that claims of being "all natural" are undercut by various ingredients.

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The Corn Syrup Diaries: Why Won't You Love Us, FDA?

It's comforting to know that the government agency charged with overseeing our nation's food safety isn't utterly spineless, incompetent or, worse yet, completely corrupted by agribusiness.

The high fructose corn syrup battle has many fronts: There's the court of public opinion, the court of law and, perhaps most importantly, the "court" of the Food and Drug Administration.

Last September, the Corn Refiners Association, petitioned the FDA to let them replace "high-fructose corn syrup" with "corn sugar" on ingredient labels. According to internal memos obtained by the Associated Press, the FDA is having none of it.

Cloaked in the language of legality and corporate reticence, these memos are like mash notes from a bad relationship. In this setup, Big Corn is the ardent lover, trying desperately to impress a disinterested girl (the American public) and win the approval of her strict parents (the FDA). C'mon, America. Why won't you just fall in love with "corn sugar"?

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Sugar Vs. High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup has long dominated the soda market, but there's a big campaign to suggest it's natural, the same as sugar. The sugar folks estimate corn refiners have spent $50 million on the campaign.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Being Sued

Who would sue high fructose corn syrup and why? A group composed of cane sugar farmers and refiners is adamant against the proposed rebranding of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as "corn sugar" because of the effect it could have on their cane sugar business and that it uses false advertising.

HFCS is considered Enemy No. 1 in America's nutrition fight, and citizens have become more and more wary of this popular sweetener additive which adds empty calories to our diet. As a result, its usage has plummeted more than 20%.

Although this fructose-glucose blend is made from vegetables and received the approval of the Food and Drug Administration to refer to it as "all-natural" in 2007, HFCS has been blamed for a myriad of health problems of the heart, liver, has encouraged diabetes and the obesity epidemic, and even contains mercury.

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Fructose, high fructose corn syrup may increase cardiovascular risk

A new study suggests that eating 25 percent of energy from fructose or high fructose corn syrup may increase cardiovascular disease risk.

The study found young adults increased postprandial serum levels of triglycerides, bad cholesterol and apoliprotein - or ApoB, a component of LDL cholesterol.

K.L. Stanhope and colleagues from University of California - Davis conducted a study to see how how glucose, fructose or high fructose corn syrup or HFCS would affect the cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol and triglycerides when they are consumed as 25 percent of the total caloric intake.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why Sugar Is Suing High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Sticky Question of Names

When you need to give yourself a whole new image, there's nothing like changing your name: Just ask Philip Morris, Ralph Lauren and the medication formerly known as thalidomide. Recently, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the scourge of dieticians and dieters from coast to coast, has started down that road by attempting to rename itself "corn sugar." But there's one big obstacle in its way: the sugar industry, which doesn't want to be tainted by connection to the infamous sweetener -- and is willing to go to court to protect itself.

When it was invented in 1957, high fructose corn syrup's name was largely irrelevant. Unknown outside of a small circle of chemists, the compound was an expensive, hard-to-synthesize scientific curiosity. It took another 20 years and the development of a low-cost production method for HFCS to gain ground in America. But between tariffs that drove up the cost of imported cane and beet sugars, and federal subsidies that drove down the cost of corn, HFCS usage quickly exploded. In 1972, the average American consumed about 1.2 pounds of the stuff. Within seven years, that number had increased more than twelve-fold, to 14.8 pounds. And by 1999, the average American was putting away over 63 pounds of high fructose corn syrup.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup Rebrand Criticized by Official

An attempt to designate high fructose corn syrup as simply “corn sugar” has been criticized for being misleading and robbing consumers of important information. According to the Associated Press, a top official at the Food and Drug Administration told the corn industry that changing the name would “invite ridicule.”

“It would be affirmatively misleading to change the name of the ingredient after all this time, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, told colleagues in a March 2010 email. “If we allow it, we will rightly be mocked both on the substance of the outcome and the process through which it was achieved.”

The Corn Refiners Association has sought a rebrand of the controversial agreement for over a year. They filed an informal request with the FDA in March, and then submitted a formal petition again in September of last year.

The AP said the corn industry wants to change the name of high fructose corn syrup after some scientists began to link it to obesity and other health problems. Since then, food companies have started to push products without the ingredient.

FDA spokesman Doug Karas was careful to say that Taylor’s comments ought to be looked at in the context of the specific name change, and did not reflect what the FDA’s eventual decision will be.

“The conversation you have is in a different context and does not, or will not, affect the outcome of the petition itself,” Karas told the AP.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Americans eat 42 pounds of high fructose corn syrup annually

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic reblogged a visualization of America’s annual eating habits. According to Thompson’s graphic, besides almost 85 pounds of fat and oils and 110 pounds of red meat, the average American consumes about 42 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup annually. Forty-two pounds is the size of about six newborns, and pretty gross prima facie. But just how bad for you is it?

The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day and that men consume no more than nine, which amounts to about 100 and 150 calories, respectively. Forty-two pounds is the equivalent of 3,865 teaspoons of corn syrup, or almost 11 per day. Nobody should be eating that much added sugar.

Exacerbating the problem is that high-fructose corn syrup has been shown to be worse than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain. Last year, researchers at Princeton University discovered that rats supplied with corn syrup got significantly fatter than rats fed regular sugar, even when caloric intake between the groups was the same. What makes that particularly frightening is how frequently food brands have begun using corn syrup in place of real sugar, which is more expensive. So while corporations are able to tighten their belts with corn syrup, America is forced to loosen its own.

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High fructose corn syrup by any other name would be just as sweet

If “the idea that HFCS is bad because it’s not natural is simply incorrect”, then why the tricky name change?

Fed up with the public’s misperception that consuming high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is unhealthy, the corn industry launched a new ad campaign last year with a catchy tag line informing people that, when it comes to HFCS or regular sugar, “Your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.” In addition, the Corn Refiners Association, which produced the advertisements, began lobbying the FDA to grant it permission to rebrand HFCS as simply “corn sugar” — a move that will now be left up to the courts to decide after a group of sugar farmers filed a lawsuit contesting the name change.

Why all the HFCS controversy? Because, as Adam Fox, an attorney for the sugar industry contends, “It is not natural, it does not exist in nature. Sugar comes from cane and beet, HFCS requires advanced technology.”

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Corn Syrup Lawsuit Heads To Los Angeles Court

The setting sun splashes warm hues across a ripening cornfield as a man and his daughter wander through rows of towering plants.

Like any parent, the dad says in the television commercial, he was concerned about high fructose corn syrup. But medical and nutrition experts reassured him that in essence, it's the same as cane sugar.

"Your body can't tell the difference," he says. "Sugar is sugar."

That key claim, made last year by the corn industry as it tries to rebrand high fructose corn syrup as simply "corn sugar," was weighed for the first time by a federal judge Tuesday after a group of sugar farmers and refiners sued corn processors and a lobbying group.

Their lawsuit alleges the father-in-the-cornfield advertisement and other national television, print and online commercials from the corn industry amount to false advertising because sugar is not the same as high fructose corn syrup, the sweetening agent now found in the bulk of sodas and many processed foods.

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Food fight breaks out over “corn sugar”

Big Sugar is taking Big Corn to court over the name “corn sugar.” Representatives of U.S. sugar farmers and refiners claim that the corn industry’s use of the term constitutes false and misleading advertising. We agree that the name is confusing. But we also think that you should limit consumption of all added sugar, in any name or form.

The lawsuit comes after manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to change the ingredient’s name to “corn sugar” in 2010, and began promoting it as “corn sugar” in advertisements. They want to make the change largely because of the bad rep high-fructose corn syrup has received in recent years as being somehow less healthful than other forms of sugar, which has hurt its sales.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Hidden sources of high fructose corn syrup in your groceries

The production of HFCS involves vats of murky fermenting liquid, various enzymes, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt.

It is amazing how ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become. Most of the products that you purchase from the grocery store contain HFCS, including the ones you would least expect.

It has the same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugars, so most people can't tell the difference. And since it tastes good they continue to eat it anyway, oblivious to what they are eating and the impact it may have on them, and the planet.

In spite of it being much more complicated to produce, HFCS is actually cheaper to make than regular sugar from beets or sugar canes. It's also very easy to transport, meaning lower costs and higher profits for food producers. That being said, there is a con to mass producing this cheap sugar.

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5 Surprising Foods in Your Kids' Diet that have High Fructose Corn Syrup

While there is some controversy over whether high fructose corn syrup is good or bad for you, I am a believer that it is more bad than good and I want to punch the television every time I see one of the ads that says it's just corn sugar. I can't say that it never enters the diet of family, but I sure as heck do my best to keep it out of our cabinets and refrigerator. However, I've found that often when I think I'm making a healthy choice for my family, manufacturers have figured out a way to sneak this ingredient into our kids' favorite healthy foods even when I least expect it. The following foods are some of the top offenders in my opinion and are ones that I always make sure I read the labels on to be sure they don't include this controversial ingredient.

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