Category : Food Labeling

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Five Frightening Food Additives and How You Can Avoid Them

Forget the haunted hayrides, spooky houses and midnight ghost tours. Want to go somewhere really scary for Halloween? You’ve been there many, many times and while it  may seem all bright and cheery, some genuinely frightening invaders can be found lurking in its corridors — blobs, bugs and brain-eating laboratory creations, all trying to lure you to take them home.

Any guesses as to what I’m talking about?

It’s your local supermarket. And if you think I’m exaggerating, read on:

An Old Familiar Brand Tops Our ‘Bad Food Pyramid’

Over the last two years I’ve acquired quite a pile of really bad food items — products, in my opinion, that aren’t fit for human consumption. Of all these brand name snacks, cans, drinks and frozen items that have taken over my kitchen and cupboards, we’ve selected one brand that has surfaced at the top of the heap of bad foods.

How, you might ask, with so many to choose from did this product line get selected? I’ll get to that in a minute. But first I need some help in figuring out what to do with this non-consumable collection of poor nutrition “foods” with some downright scary additives.

I certainly couldn’t donate the pile to the local food bank. Giving away food that we’ve been telling folks not to eat to those in need seems just plain wrong. So what to do with it? Toss it? Sent it back to the manufacturer? Reader suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Please send a note or post a suggestion at the Food Identity Theft Facebook page.

The ‘bad brand’ prize

There are a lot of bad ingredient-foods out there, but we thought a fair scoring system to pick one should be similar to that used in a beauty pageant, with our categories being;

  • the ‘beauty’ of its appeal to children;
  • a ‘talent’ for using bad ingredients across an entire product line, and
  • a product’s ‘personality’ — the various tricks and schticks it uses to appeal to consumers.

And the winner is…Chef Boyardee from ConAgra Foods

Chef Boyardee was in fact a real person and a very accomplished chef. At the age of 17 he landed a job at the plush Plaza Hotel in New York City and later went on to found one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Cleveland. Ettore “Hector” Boiardi has also been credited with the invention of “to go” restaurant foods. But this was back in the early 1920s, when high fructose corn syrup and the lineup of other synthetic ingredients that now comprise and compromise his namesake line were still many years away from being invented in laboratories somewhere.

ConAgra Foods, which purchased the brand in 2000, claims “his legacy of quality ingredients is in every bowl.” But seriously, ConAgra, are we to believe that Hector would have considered ingredients such as mechanically separated chicken, high fructose corn syrup, soy protein concentrate and yeast extract to be “quality” ones? I think not.

Some of the Chef Boyardee products that helped the brand win this dubious distinction are:

JUMBO Spaghetti & Meatballs:
Like all the rest of the Chef Boyardee lineup, the label says there is “good stuff inside.” In label-reading reality, however, you can find four sources of “hidden” MSG, as well as mechanically separated chicken and high fructose corn syrup. Another one of the selling points on the can is about the meatballs, which apparently are twice the size of the ones in the original product.

Of course, when you’re using mechanically separated chicken, which goes for approximately ten cents a pound, yeah, you can make those meatballs a lot bigger. If you missed the blog about this queasy ingredient that we dubbed “chicken ooze,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes mechanically separated poultry (MSP) as “a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.”

Whole Grain Lasagna:
Aimed directly at parents looking for a quick and easy kid meal, this product makes a big point of being “whole grain,” with the “taste kids love!” The can also promises “no preservatives or MSG,” but again you’ll find free glutamic acid in the form of “yeast extract” and “textured vegetable protein.” (For a comprehensive overview of ingredients that contain processed free glutamic acid, the chemical in monosodium glutamate that causes reactions, look here).

Then there’s the HFCS, which seems to be a favorite ingredient of ConAgra. Making a big marketing deal out of removing the laboratory sweetener/preservative from its Hunt’s Ketchup several years ago, it quietly slipped it back in last year. So is the HFCS used as a sweetener? A preservative? Only ConAgra or a food scientist would know for sure.

Mini dinosaurs with meatballs:
Obviously designed with kids in mind, this is another can containing chicken “ooze,” HFCS, and more hidden MSG.

While giant food processing company ConAgra makes numerous other products with questionable ingredients, many which have been called-out in previous Food Identity Theft blogs, it’s the Chef Boyardee line that takes the top prize in the bad food pyramid award.

Any ideas out there for what brand should be chosen runner-up?

Products Using “Carmine” – A Food Coloring Derived from Ground-Up Insects

Below are just a few recently released products that contain the insect-based food coloring known as “carmine.” There are thousands of others already on the market. Please check back here from time to time for updates to the list as we identify more products containing carmine — food coloring made from crushed whole cochineal beetles.

 

quik

Nestle Nesquik: Chocolate Cookie Sandwich (Strawberry)

alive

Nature’s Way: Alive Women’s 50+ Multivitamin/Multimineral

superdieter

Laci Le Beau: Super Dieters Fast Dissolve

mentos

Rainbow Mentos

fruitconcentrate

Healthy America: Triple Strength Natural Cranberry Fruit Concentrate

libidomax

Applied Nutrition: Libido Max for Women

prenatalmulti

CVS Pharmacy: DHA Prenatal Multivitamin

memoraid

Naturade: MemorAid with Omega 3 & Vitamin D

smoothie

Lucerne: Smoothie Dairy Beverage (Strawberry Banana)

twinlab

Twinlab: Ripped Fuel

werthers

Werther’s: Original Sugar Free Caramel Cinnamon Flavored Hard Candies

hotpockets

Hot Pockets: Snackers

parfait

Meijer: Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

candymix

Harry & David: Valentine Candy Mix

yoplait

Yoplait: Original Variety Pack

redvelvetcake

Betty Crocker: Red Velvet Cake Mix

omega3

Jamieson Natural Sources: Omega-3 Age Defence

 

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Lunch Box Wars: Consumer Advocates Want Dannon to More Clearly Label Bug-based Ingredients

CochinealLos Angeles, CA, September 17, 2013—Taken aback by Dannon’s blasé attitude about using an allergenic, bug-based extract and not just berries to color their yogurt, one of the nation’s most powerful natural health watchdog groups is pressuring the yogurt giant—and hundreds of other food companies—to come clean with consumers.
Citizens for Health, the consumer advocacy group best known for keeping dietary supplements legal and for protecting the integrity of organic labeling, wants Dannon and other food companies who use the insect-based dye carmine, also known as cochineal extract, in their products to more clearly label them or switch to plant-based alternatives.
“When consumers asked Starbucks to stop using bugs in their Frappacinos last year, the company responded with sensitivity and complied within 48 hours without any further prompting,” says Jim Turner, president of Citizens for Health and former food policy advisor for Ralph Nader. “It’s mindboggling that Dannon would so off-handedly dismiss the very same consumer request. They’re just crying out to be challenged.”
Citizens for Health has partnered with a national fitness guru to help get their message out. Michelle Dozois, creator of several multi-million-selling fitness DVDs, is using her influence in the health and fitness community to educate consumers further.
“Michelle is a leader in the health and fitness community, but also a mom who believes that her kids deserve better than bugs,” Turner says. “She can talk mom to mom.”
Dozois is asking people to sign a petition posted on the Take Action website:

The petition was organized by the scientist-led advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest that first put Dannon in the spotlight this summer. “Our two groups work closely together,” Turner says, “and truth in labeling is an important shared value.”
“I’m not opposed to people eating insects if that’s what they want to do,” says Dozois, “I just don’t want to be tricked into putting bug-based extracts into my kids’ lunch boxes. I want Dannon and other food companies to clearly label bugs!”
Dozois is available for interview upon request.
# # #
Media Contact: Chris Kelley, 406-333-9999, chris@polestarcom.com

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Read Your Labels: Are Recent Nutritional Snapshots Helping – or Confusing?

Yet Another Company Jumps Into the Business of Helping Consumers Make “Healthy” Food Choices

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

July 11, 2013

“Everybody wants to get into the act,” a catchphrase made famous back in the day by show business legend Jimmy Durante, seems to have found a new meaning.  Apparently, everybody now wants to get into the act of helping the busy food shopper quickly determine what items are the “healthiest” ones to grab off the supermarket shelf.

But isn’t this a good thing? After all, supermarket shopping can be an annoying, tedious chore that isn’t exactly top on most people’s list of fun things to do. But if you plan on eating the food taken home from such an expedition, it helps to know what’s in it. And the only real way to acquire such knowledge is to read the ingredient label — something all of these health-conscious ‘helpful Hannahs’ seem to be steering you away from by calling your attention to superficial and often misleading criteria instead.

The latest player in this  game of mock health marketing appears to be the technology and data company Vestcom out of Little Rock, Ark. Vestcom, which specializes in “shelf-edge solutions,” consisting of messaging and pricing information tags posted on store shelves, has now entered the nutrition advice arena with “healthyAisles,” which it describes as “nutrition info your customers can trust.”

The healthyAisles tag makes the same kinds of nebulous claims as do all those other quick nutrition guides. It’s angle is to choose from a list of  35 “health and wellness” attributes such as “heart healthy” or “low sodium” to describe each product without offering much more in the way of information as to what these processed foods actually contain. The system has already been sold to enough retailers to now appear in over 5,000 stores, according to the trade pub FoodNavigator.com.

Just why another such ersatz health-and-nutrition merchandising system is needed isn’t readily apparent. But Vestcom is holding firm to the concept that healthyAisles is “fact based,”  “effective,” and a “national strategic partner with the Unite States Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate,” although it doesn’t exactly specify what that “strategic” partnership consists of. Perhaps the company’s competitive edge is its appeal to older shoppers seeking a nostalgic connection to a time when buying food was considered strictly a woman’s job, as evidenced by its tag line: “Give her the nutrition advice she seeks, precisely when and where she needs it.”

Other consumer-confusing in-store “information” programs include:

  • Safeway’s “SimpleNutrition” program
    SimpleNutrition is comprised of 22 “benefit messages” under “two groups of messages” that are supposed to meet “lifestyle, dietary” and “specific nutrition or ingredient criteria.” Could anything be simpler than that?
  • Publix Markets’ “Nutrition Facts” tags
    Apparently not bothered that “nutrition facts” is the exact same term the government requires for processed food packaging information panels, Publix, a Southern supermarket institution, now features its own “Nutrition Facts” program that asks, “Who has time to analyze food labels? Luckily, when you shop with us, you don’t have to.”
  • Stop & Shop’s Healthy Ideas
    The creative naming of these programs is pretty much the biggest difference between them. Stop & Shop, for example, wants us to have “a simple way to know it’s healthy”: all you have to do is look for the Healthy Ideas shelf tag! Healthy Ideas tags are also on nearly all the fruits and vegetables in the produce department. Duh.
  • NuVal Scoring System
    This “nutrition made easy” program was purportedly “developed independently by a team of nutrition and medical experts.” NuVal is another shelf-tag system that rates the “nutritiousness” of foods by scoring them from 1 to 100 using a patent-pending algorithm. But despite all the hoopla from NuVal, and its partner company Topco Associates, LLC, the system is a bizarrely flawed idea that rates sugar-free jelly higher than eggs.
  • Guiding Stars
    Described as  “Nutritious choices made simple,” Guiding Stars appears to be another variation on the theme, It uses a rating system featuring one to three big yellow stars — perhaps to appeal to those those who can’t count to the higher NuVal numbers.
  • Supervalu Nutrition iQ
    Called “The better-for-you food finder” (which, by the way, is a pending trademark), nutrition iQ is a “shelf tag navigation program” that uses color coded tags below products to show which ones make the “healthy” grade. As Heidi Diller, Albertsons’ registered dietitian, explains in a Youtube video, “reading labels is important, but that takes time. If only there was an easier way to shop healthy. Let our science guide you..(to) better-for-you shopping.” Unfortunately nutrition iQ omits more facts than it offers.
  • Facts Up Front from the Grocery Manufacturers Association
    Soon to be the focus of a big-bucks advertising campaign, Facts up Front features some tiny blue boxes that will provide data on calories and three nutrients – but nothing, of course, about a product’s ingredients.
  • Walmart’s “Great for You”
    This front-of-package icon is designed to appear on food products that conform to the mega-retailer’s standard of healthiness.

There are also a number of nutrition advice programs that have ‘bit the dust’, including:

  • Smartspot, Pepsico’s self-serving “more nutritious” designations on its own brands, which was launched in 2004 and canned in 2010;
  • Sensible Solutions, a similar idea from the marketing gurus at Kraft, which made its debut in 2005 and was“put on hold” in 2009;
  • Smart Choices, a promotion designed and paid for by the food industry that got bad press when its ‘better-for-you’ icon started appearing on Kellogg’s Froot Loops packages. It came and went in 2009.

So there you have it, eight ways the food industry is helping us to shop.

If only it were that easy.

Organic Consumers Association Supports Crackdown on Radioactive Food

Early last month Citizens for Health, along with the other coalition members of Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN), filed a petition with the FDA to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, from a ridiculous 1200 Bq/kg to 5 Bq/kg (see why here, read why here). The Bq (Becquerel) is a measure of radioactivity. The FDA is now accepting comments on our petition and every person’s voice counts, so leave a comment in support here!

We thought you would appreciate the chance to review comments in support of this petition recently submitted by the Organic Consumers Association:

“The Organic Consumers Association supports the Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network’s petition requesting the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to promulgate regulations to protect U.S. consumers from Cesium 134 and Cesium 137 contamination.

No food should have more than 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134/137. All food should be tested for and labeled with its Cesium 134/137 contamination.

The damaged Fukushima units continue to leak 10 million becquerels of Cesium 134 and 137 per hour into the environment with no sign of stopping. Unfortunately, Cesium bioaccumulates and biomagnifies over time. Since Cesium 134 has a hazardous life of about 10-20 years ad Cesium 137 has a hazardous life of about 300-600 years, the threat of contamination in our food supply is a long-term issue that deserves immediate attention.

We are alarmed at the lack of testing currently in place to meet the present-and-growing threat of Cesium 134 and 137 contamination in our food supply. The time is past-due for a comprehensive response to radiation present in our food supply from the Fukushima disaster.

Various products in the U.S. food supply have Cesium 134 and 137 contamination, including pistachios, oranges from California, grapefruits from Florida, prunes from California, and almonds from California.

The California coastline itself is now in danger of radiation contamination. Scientists at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station found levels of Cesium 134 and 137 from the Fukushima disaster in bluefin tuna caught off the California coast in Feb. 2013.

FDA should promulgate a binding U.S. threshold of 5 Bq/kg of Cesium 134-137 contamination, but there is no safe dose. Consumers should have the information they need to manage their own Cesium 134/137 intake. The FDA should require the testing and labeling of Cesium 134/137 in food.”

HFCS: Excessive Fructose May Be Making “Spoiled Appetites” a Thing of the Past

Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

June 11, 2013

Since this blog was published in January, research done on rats by Dr. Francesco Leri, an associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada (which we talked about two weeks ago) has determined that high fructose corn syrup is indeed an addictive substance. Dr. Leri found that that the more he increased the percentage of HFCS, the more the rats worked to obtain it, which is “exactly what you notice with drug abuse, the same type of pattern.” Nor did satiating the rats on their regular chow make the craving for HFCS go away. When administered saccharine, however, the rats did not continue to crave it as they had with HFCS. To Leri, this indicated that ”HFCS has effects that are beyond the sweetness in the mouth … effects on the brain.”

Illegal Monsanto GMO Wheat Found Growing in Oregon

By Frank Herd
Program Coordinator, Citizens for Health
 

Chances are you’ve heard already, but the news is disturbing enough to make sure.

The exact same variety of GMO (genetically moified) wheat developed by Monsanto in the 1990s (the field trials were supposed to have ended years ago) was discovered to be growing in an Eastern Oregon farmer’s fields, in clear violation of US law. (Important note: The farmers who discovered the alien wheat sprayed repeatedly to kill it, but could not. They sent it to a university lab for analysis, which is how Monsanto’s concoction was discovered).

CFH warned long ago about the dangers of such experimenting. Regardless of how vehemently Monsanto asserted that protections were in place to prevent cross-pollination of farmland neighboring areas in which experiments were conducted, we questioned exactly how Monsanto would control the wind, rain, and agricultural runoff that threatened to spread the Frankenseeds. (Never mind that they would probably love to do exactly that).

Well, now Monsanto and the USDA are scrabbling to reassure consumers concerned about just how deeply into the environment this GMO wheat may have spread. Even though they assure us that the wheat is safe for human consumption, the USDA has launched a formal investigation to determine how this spread of Monsanto’s illegal wheat occurred.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is no more confident about this than consumers are. Bloomberg News reported today that Japan has suspended imports of US-grown wheat, and the price of wheat is falling. Of additional concern according to KGW in Portland: “The discovery also could have implications for organic companies, which by law cannot use genetically engineered ingredients in foods.”

Enough is enough. This past weekend CFH stood with food activists against Monsanto’s machinations at the March Against Monsanto, and we urge you to stand with us now and take action to label GMOs. If we can’t predict when such accidents will occur as a result of genetic tampering, we can at least ensure we’re informed when GMOs are present in what we eat and drink.

Please visit our partners in this fight at JustLabelIt.org and tell Congress we’ve avoided long enough taking the steps necessary to ensure we are informed about what we feed ourselves and our families.

Read Your Labels: Six Healthy Sounding Snack Food Scams

Another reason to “Read Your Labels”, Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 23, 2013

Vegetables, antioxidants, fiber – these are all good things, right? Sure, unless they are actually just your cabbage-variety junk food masquerading as healthful food substances.

With gazillions of products on store shelves vying for your attention, don’t think that food and beverage manufacturers are unaware that consumers look for these buzz words, along with pictures of fruits and veggies on packaging.  And they’re especially tuned into the guilty feeling that comes with snacking on less than stellar foods — guilt they make no bones about taking advantage of. Below are six examples of these fraudulent products, followed by some tips on healthy substitutes you can choose so you won’t fall prey to this snack-food scam.

Sweet Potato Chips from Food Should Taste Good:
I don’t think even the company that makes this product is quite sure what it is. While “Sweet Potato” is presented in a great big font, further down, in much smaller letters it says “tortilla chips (it’s a cracker too!)” and then the fact that it’s really: “made with sweet potato.”

Yes, it is made with some sweet potatoes, but this chip (or cracker, if you choose) is mostly made from corn. It’s essentially a corn chip, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for. But don’t get misled by the sweet potato come-on.

Home-made sweet potato chips are quite easy to make. The hardest part is cutting the sweet potato which you can make much easier by using a mandoline-type cutter. The rest is as easy as opening this bag of corn chips in disguise.

Veggie Crisps Mixed Vegetable Snack from Herr’s:
Instead of the slick photo of veggies taking up a good top half of this bag, here’s what would be depicted if Herr’s accurately represented its contents: a bag of potato flour and potato starch, a bottle of canola oil, some “natural” flavors, more oil, and, finally – some tomato paste and spinach powder.

Considering that one little ounce of ‘real’ spinach will give you 56 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin A, 14 percent of your C and 5 percent of your iron, this bag of corn flour chips contains zero of those nutrients, so whatever amount of paste and powder are in them doesn’t amount to much of anything.

All Natural Veggie Sticks from Nice!:
Nice!, the new-ish Walgreens store brand has put a lot of thought into the package design of these potato-flour thingies they call “veggie sticks.” Front and center is a “pot” labeled “spinach” with the “veggie” sticks in them bearing a sign that says “eat your greens.” Maybe they mean the color green, as the small amount of spinach powder these contain doesn’t amount to a hill of, well, spinach.

Fiber Plus Antioxidants from Kellogg’s:
If you just went by the front of this box you may think this product contains everything you need for health and happiness; fiber, antioxidants, coconut and fudge.

With just one bar providing 35 percent of your daily fiber “value,” it sounds like a heck of a deal. But the fiber in these Kellogg’s chewy bars isn’t from whole grains, but rather from chicory root fiber, an additive that food manufacturers love, since it adds loads of fiber to foods, is slightly sweet and mixes well with other ingredients without adding a strong flavor.

Unfortunately, one big problem with chicory root fiber is that individuals can differ greatly in just how much they can tolerate without suffering from gas, bloating, nausea and flatulence.  Even small amounts can set some folks rumbling. So considering what Kellogg’s is packing these bars with, perhaps you’d be better off not to try them for the first time on your way to that big job interview.

But it’s not the turbulent chicory root fiber that puts these bars in the “fake” category. It’s the rest of the ingredients, which include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial colors and partially hydrogenated oil – making this a healthy snack not.

Green Tea Ginger Ale from Canada Dry:
I don’t care how many antioxidants they pump this with — it’s still soda! And a soda with high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient and two preservatives to boot. If it’s green tea you’re looking for there are numerous high quality ready-made brands (such as Honest Tea with honey) to choose from, or you can make your own with boiling water and some tea! I know it sounds crazy, but folks have been brewing tea like that for centuries, I’ll bet you can probably do it, too.

Garden Veggie Straws from Sensible Portions:
The folks that designed the Garden Veggie Straws package must have had a moment of  truth about this product. A small moment, perhaps, recorded in very small type way down on the bottom of the package, which refers to it as “potato snack.”  But that, of course, is eclipsed by the super-gigantic “veggie” name and basket of vegetables graphic.

Actually, this product is pretty much comprised of potato flour and starch with some rice flour and corn starch thrown in for non-veggie good measure. But then, there’s is the added tomato paste and spinach powder, which in some contorted, regulatory way, allows this product to be out in the marketplace with the term “veggie” in its name. (Oddly, it’s also distributed by no less than the Hain Celestial Group, one of the biggest players in the natural and organic food category.)

Are you really hankering for a healthy snack?

Then here are some simple suggestions for steering clear of scams like the ones mentioned above:

Veggies– the real thing: If it’s vegetables you want to snack on, then make it vegetables, not potato-flour chips! Carrots, peppers, celery – all these veggies travel quite well and can be easily prepped at home for any snack bag.

Organic corn and potato chips:  At those times when only a chip will do, the organic section of your supermarket is a much better place to look, with plenty of varieties to select from.

Nuts: Cashews, pistachios and almonds are now widely regarded as “health foods.” Watch out, however, for ones with flavor-enhancing additives. (Actually, nuts taste great with nothing added other than, perhaps, a bit of sea salt).

Fruits: Apples, bananas and oranges look as if nature designed them just for taking on the road with you.

Homemade goodies: Do you make your own popcorn, cookies, bars or fruit mixes from healthy or organic ingredients? Then make an extra batch to take along with you, and you’ll avoid becoming a hungry ‘hostage of the highway’, buying cheap chips and fake veggie products from convenience stores and rest areas vending machines.

Ten Food Items You Might Be Surprised to Learn Contain HFCS

[NagAds id=5]Courtesy of
FoodIdentityTheft Blogger and CFH Contributor

May 14, 2013

So just how much high fructose corn syrup are you consuming, anyway? If you regularly dine out or eat processed foods, the chances are high you’re taking in more than you might have ever imagined.

Back in the 1980s, when HFCS was a fairly new food ingredient, it was being touted as “better use of an abundant homegrown crop” in a trade publication ad for Cargill headlined “How the newest ingredient in soda pop helps sweeten the pot for corn growers.”  As the ad explained it, a $90 million expansion of the company’s facilities would, when completed, give it “a total capacity of 1.3 billion gallons of fructose a year … enough to fill a trainload that would stretch 154 miles.” Which is an awful lot of fructose – the very component that the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has more recently tried to downplay in advertising claiming that HFCS is not really all that high in fructose after all.

But all that extra capacity has apparently been put to use, judging from the way HFCS has morphed way beyond “soda pop” into every conceivable food product that can be made. An example of just how much HFCS is being produced these days comes directly from the CRA itself, which noted in the most recent “Corn Annual” report  that total shipments for HFCS for 2011 came to more than 19 billion pounds of the stuff.

Back when that ad ran, in 1982, USDA numbers for “deliveries” of HFCS only amounted to 26.6 pounds per person each year. But that number has been insidiously rising year after year as this test-tube sweetener has found its way into every kind of food, hitting the 60-pound-per-person mark in 1997 (interestingly, sugar intake has actually declined over the last century according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures).

 


 

 Sign Our Petition to the FDA to Label HFCS Accurately

Our petition requests that the FDA take action to protect the public from the illegal, mislabeled use of high fructose corn syrup.

Sign the Petition

 

 


 

So exactly how much HFCS do these various foods contain? Unless you’re privy to “proprietary” information, as it’s called in the industry, you really have no way of knowing. That’s also true of the actual fructose amount in whatever HFCS “blend” a manufacturer may be using. These unknown fructose concentrations are the subject of a current petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration by Citizens for Health, asking that the agency take action against food and beverage manufacturers using HFCS with fructose amount above 55 percent, the highest amount the FDA allows (Read more about the issue here).

Finding HFCS in everything from prunes to pickles

What we do know for sure is that HFCS turns up in some very unexpected places, such as the products below.

Progresso Bread Crumbs (Plain): The package says the these bread crumbs will “inspire your passion for the art of cooking…” with “authentic Italian taste,” but you’d be hard pressed to find an “authentic” Italian dish that called for high fructose corn syrup.

Sunsweet Prunes: Referred to on the label as “the American Super Fruit,” there is no doubt that prunes are a healthy as well as a sweet-tasting natural product – and one you would least suspect would harbor an unnatural sweetener like HFCS.

French’s Flavor Infuser 10 Minute Marinade: High fructose corn syrup takes the honor of being the very first ingredient in this concoction, even before water and tomato paste.

Kraft Catalina Anything Dressing: With the claim that it’s “fat free” appearing on four places on the packaging, this product is apparently intended to be used on more than salad, as the name implies. It also has HFCS is listed as its second ingredient, right after tomato paste.

Kraft Miracle Whip: Kraft calls this popular dressing a “secret blend,” but if you read the label you’ll find that it includes HFCS.

Vlasic Bread & Butter Pickles: HFCS is the second ingredient, right after cucumbers – demonstrating how easy it is to make a sandwich with HFCS in every single ingredient and not even realize it!

Mott’s Original Applesauce: Here’s yet another supposedly good-for-you-food bearing a major brand name that’s been adulterated with this cheap and unnatural sweetener. Fortunately, organic unsweetened applesauce is easy to find and just about the same price.

Krusteaz Cranberry Orange Supreme Muffin Mix: How “supreme” could the muffins made from this mix be with HFCS in them?

Heinz 57 Sauce: While the label asserts  it will “add zest to steak, chicken & pork,” a glance at the fine print says it will also add HFCS, which is the second ingredient in this sauce after tomato paste.

Campbell’s Healthy Request Vegetable Soup: Also masquerading as a “healthy” product while containing high fructose corn syrup is this new version of an old standard recipe, whose label claims that’s it’s “M’m! M’m! good…for your heart.” But a study, done at that University of California at Davis, found that adults who consumed HFCS for two weeks as 25 percent of their daily calorie requirement had increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, indicators of increased risk for heart disease. And in 2011, researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University concluded that high fructose consumption by teens can put them at risk for heart disease and diabetes.

The upshot is that despite industry claims that high fructose corn syrup is fine “in moderation,” the fact that so many diverse types of popular food products have been spiked with it makes consuming “moderate” amounts highly unlikely – unless you’re in the habit of carefully scrutinizing the ingredients of every processed food you buy (or of purchasing organic products). Not to mention that there may well be even higher levels of fructose in many of those items than you’ve been led to believe.

You might even say there’s a whole trainload of it just waiting for you in the supermarket.