August 25, 2015
Big Food Spreads Lies on Their Food Labels – Part 2
In the last blog, 3,000 were the number of ingredients food companies have added by themselves. About 2,000 if these are flavors that were deemed safe by an industry association. The FDA monitors these decisions, but does not extensively review them. Another 1,000 additives have been called safe by food companies and used without any notice to the FDA at all.
Today, the regulations are so loose that companies put what they want in foods and ignore the FDA. Michael Jacobson, PhD, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says, “That is what happened with an ingredient called high-fructose corn syrup-90.”
Dave Busken is a technical baker for a company called Oak State Products in Wenona, IL. His company bakes goods like cookies for big food manufacturers.
Companies come to him when they want to clean up their food labels. He says there’s one switch that’s become pretty common in processed cereals and baked goods. “You take out high-fructose corn syrup,” he says, “and replace it with fructose.”
High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that is combination of two simple sugars, glucose and fructose, and it has those sugars in about the same ratio that’s found in ordinary table sugar.
Fructose is also found in fruit, but not in such a concentrated and simplified form as found in high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener ran into trouble when researchers began to question whether it was a good idea to be eating so much of it in processed foods and drinks. Experts disagree, though, on whether high-fructose corn syrup is any unhealthier than regular sugar.
Some scientific evidence suggests that calories from fructose are more easily stored as fat than glucose. Fructose may also raise levels of harmful blood fats more than glucose does. The fear is that eating too much fructose may set the body on a path to obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
The “cleaner” sounding ingredient “fructose” actually has far more of that sugar than the unpopular sweetener it’s replacing: It is 90% fructose compared to the 43% to 55% that’s legally allowed in high-fructose corn syrup, according to the Corn Refiners Association.
“Boy, is that misleading,” says Kimber Stanhope, PhD, who has done some of the studies on fructose. She’s an associate researcher of molecular bioscience as the University of California at Davis. It is in foods today even though the FDA in 1996 specifically declined to recognize the higher formulation, HCFS-90, as safe. That was in part because it contains so much more fructose than glucose.
“Additional data on the effects of fructose consumption that is not balanced with glucose consumption would be needed to ensure that this product is safe,” says the FDA action, which is signed by William K. Hubbard, who was then the associate commissioner for policy coordination.
Part 2 of 5 parts.