If you’ve given up foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), you may want to give your cabinets a once-over , because the ingredient may still be hiding in your favorite foods.
With so many consumers and advocacy groups pressuring the food industry to reduce or ditch HFCS altogether, the industry has responded, but not in the way people would have hoped.
After a failed attempt at rebranding HFCS as “corn sugar”, which received a lot of pushback from the cane sugar industry, high fructose corn syrup may now be showing up on ingredients lists simply as “fructose”, which is misleading customers trying to avoid the unhealthy ingredient.
And “fructose” can hide in some otherwise healthy looking foods like flavored yogurts, cereals, energy bars, breads or juices.
Making matters worse, HFCS is a potentially toxic source of mercury. “Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered,” a 2009 study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy explained. “We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”
But to date, HFCS is still found in an alarming number of foods, many specifically targeting children.
The good news is that a growing number of brands and products are ditching HFCS for healthier sweeteners. And organic foods, while not immune to HFCS, are generally free from the controversial stuff. Just make sure to read your labels. And when in doubt, if it doesn’t specify the sugar (cane sugar, honey, etc), but uses a generic term like “fructose,” it’s best to skip it or try your hand at making it yourself at home where you have total control over the ingredients.
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