I have to admit that every time I see these silly commercials air, I get grumpy.  Saying Sugar Is Sugar is akin to saying Beef is Beef, Chocolate is Chocolate, or Mushrooms are Mushrooms.

I for one know the difference between Kobe Beef and Safeway Beef, high quality European chocolate tastes far different from the cheap dollar store special, and Portebello’s have a taste and texture that is far superior to the ubiquitous white button mushroom that adorns many household refrigerators. So it logically follows that not all Sugar is Sugar.

In case you have not had the opportunity to view the rubbish being spewed forth by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), I have a copy of it for your viewing pleasure.

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The video link is here.

Unfortunately I was unable to embed the video. It seems that the CRA does not want this video out in the wild.

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I wonder why not? Actually a little more investigation of the YouTube link might provide an answer..

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Based on viewers ratings, the segment received a less than enthusiastic response. A 95% disapproval rate! I am sure that Vlad The Impaler,  Atilla The Hun, or even Adolf Hitler would not have scored this bad!

The facts about HFCS or (Corn Sugar) are far different than the ones that he CRA would have us believe. It takes only a few seconds of fun with Google to reveal a very different story. A simple and believable article is one published by Princeton University. You can read it here. You do not need a PhD to understand their findings:

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.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

What caught my eye while out grocery shopping a while ago was the label on a Hunts Tomato Ketchup bottle:

Hunt’s are part of Conagra, and Conagra are most certainly part of ‘big food’. Did Hunt’s rejection and clear advertising ‘No High Fructose Corn Syrup’ mean that ‘big food’ were breaking ranks, Conagra saw the dangers?

I tried to find out. It took three weeks to actually get a reply out of Conagra/Hunts, and it was carefully crafted.

Simon: Based on the press release would it be accurate to say that there was no scientific data that caused the dropping of HFCS? It was just user feedback?

Hunts: More than ever, consumers are interested in products with simpler ingredient lists, and ingredients they easily recognize.  They express a preference for food items that are natural or made with ingredients they may have at home. And we’re listening and providing consumers with what they want – an entire line of ketchup that is 100% Natural, with 0% high fructose corn syrup and 0% corn syrup. The removal of HFCS from Hunt’s Ketchup was in direct response to consumer requests.

Simon: Do either Hunts or Conagra have a position on HFCS other than user feedback?

Hunts: We are looking for ways to have simpler ingredients – things consumers would have in their kitchens – across our portfolio.  For example, our Healthy Choice All Natural Entrees use honey and sugar.  So, we don’t have plans to change to sugar across our entire portfolio at this point, but are always monitoring to understand emerging trends.

They avoided any mention of scientific data, rather, the decision was made by customer feedback. This seemingly easy way to dodge the issue is however fraught with problems. If the CRA is correct and Sugar is Sugar, why would customers give a damn?

Needless to say, my curiosity has been aroused.

Simon Barrett

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