HFCS. High-fructose corn syrup.
I was just subjected to an ad by these motherfuckers as payment for watching a YouTube video. Gag me with a spoon!
OK, HFCS. You got my attention. You want to play? Let’s play!
First things first. The ads say they are paid for by the “Corn Refiners Association.”
WTF #1 – Corn can be refined? Now that’s something I didn’t now, and didn’t want to know. Ever!
Technically the ad I saw was paid for by The Center for Consumer Freedom. Ah, freedom! Such a noble concept. Who could ever object to something like “freedom,” right?
So who is this Center for Consumer Freedom, anyway? According to their official web site:
The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition of restaurants, food companies, and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.
Am I reading that correctly? It seems they are saying that those who use their products are irresponsible but that we should have the freedom to be irresponsible like that if we want.
Not quite the most compelling inducement of all time. Heh!
The commercial I saw had an ear of corn in a police line up with a sugar cube and a bottle of honey. It made the following points:
- All three have the same calories.
- All three are processed by the body in the same way.
As my body double Chris Farley was often wont say, “Well, La-Dee Frickin’ Dah!”
Let’s assume the claims in this ad are true. What has been proved? Is HFCS healthy? No. They make no such claim. If anything, the ad can be interpreted as saying, “Hey, don’t pick on us. We’re just as bad as these other guys.”
But that’s not where my beef lies with these folks. (Did I mention they hate PETA, too?)
Try This at Home Science Experiment
It’s time for a science experiment, boys and girls. One you can even do yourselves!
For this experiment you will need:
- The ability to read
- A grocery store
Step 1 – Go to a grocery store.
Step 2 – Find the soup aisle.
Step 3 – Pick up a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup.
Step 4- Read the label and find the ingredients.
Step 5 – Identify the third ingredient listed, by volume. (Per U.S. labeling laws.)
Well, what did you come up with?
If you found “high-fructose corn syrup” you are a critical thinker and first class scientist! Well done! (For my photograph above I used Brand X and HFCS was the second ingredient. It went: tomato, HFCS, then water. Mmm mmm good food, eh?)
According to the label on the can, that’s 24 grams of sugar carbohydrates per “serving.” And we all know what a “serving” is, right? About 1/4 of what a typical American will eat. 🙂
It’s not just tomato soup, either. HFCS can be found in a dizzying array of surprising products. Why is that, you think? Americans have quite the sweet tooth. Even our non-dessert foods need to be sugary.
Now the people who brought us plan to rename their product. Instead of “high fructose corn syrup” it will be “corn sugar.” Their goal? Obfuscation! It seems HFCS has a negative connotation in the minds of many consumers these days, so the solution is obvious. Rename it! That should be them some time.
The Corn Refiners Association has a high opinion of consumers. “Clearly the name is confusing consumers,” said the president of the group. (Source.)
I don’t think consumers are confused at all.
A high fructose corn syrup by any other name would smell as sweet.
Sodium won’t catch up
Ketchup or catsup? At least as far as my browser’s built-in spellchecker is concerned, it’s definitely the former. It chokes on the latter.
I went to Wal-Mart last night to get a good deal on cat food. I normally avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I hate that place. While there, however, I remembered we were out of ketchup, so I attempted to traverse my way to the grocery section – without the aid of a map.
I found ketchup and began scanning the various shapes and sizes focusing on cost per ounce. A mysterious empty section of the shelf caught my eye. It was completely empty. A little label said “Heinz Ketchup, 40 ounce, $1.00.” Whoa! What the heck was that all about? At my local grocery store this would have been $3 or more. I bent down and saw four bottles way in the back. They were mine! I watched like a hawk at checkout and sure enough, those bottles were $1 each with no coupon. Wow.
I love ketchup. A lot. It’s by far my favorite condiment. It goes on fries (of course), hash browns, scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, meat loaf (pre-veggie days) and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. My wife the expert cook doesn’t use it quite as much as me and many times I’ve tried to use it on her cooking and have received the Stare of Death.
The ingredients in Heinz ketchup (per the label) are:
- Tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes
- Distilled vinegar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Onion powder
- Natural flavoring
Wow. High fructose corn syrup! The label says a “serving” of ketchup is 1 tablespoon and contains 15 calories. A tablespoon is three teaspoons and a teaspoon of sugar has 15 calories. So I guess that means that ketchup is made of about the equivalent of one-third sugar. Yikes.
On a 2,000 calorie per day diet those calories represent about 3.3% of your “daily values” or DV (even though the label doesn’t actually do the DV math on calories).
Then the word “sodium” on the label caught my eye. A serving contains 190mg or 8% of DV. Eight percent of your daily salt limit in a single tablespoon of ketchup? Yikes, that seems high. That must have something to do with the fact that “salt” is the fifth ingredient (by volume). I can only imagine what happens when I use ketchup on my heavily over-salted french fries.
Earlier this month Heinz quietly changed their formula for ketchup. It was the first “significant” change to their recipe in nearly 40 years. A company spokesperson said that the change will not be noted on product packaging except, presumably, in the Nutrition Facts box. The amount of sodium reduction will be about 15 percent or 160mg per serving.
This recipe change pertains to the United States version of Heinz ketchup. In Canada the recipe is already only 140mg of sodium per serving and “tends to have a sweeter taste than the U.S. version.”
The politics of ketchup? We heard a bit about Heinz when John Kerry was running for president. This sodium change, however, is at least in part to the “National Salt Reduction Initiative” spearheaded by New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Heinz is one of 16 major food manufacturers that has voluntarily joined the program.”
So, naturally, web sites like the aptly named Hot Air decry Heinz ketchup a “casualty of the liberal doctrine.” Yeah, whatever.
I personally believe the average American diet contains way too much salt. I salt very few things like steak (which I don’t eat any more) and corn on the cob. I believe that most processed foods we eat already contain so much salt it would be nuts to add more.