High fructose corn syrup turns up in the oddest of places

Posted by
July 5, 2012

Responding to my blog last week on pet food and advertising, several readers wrote to let me know about one of the most ridiculous places ever to find high fructose corn syrup. That’s right — pet food. Dog food, to be precise– and no less than a Purina product called Moist and Meaty and the Walmart favorite, Ol’ Roy Soft & Moist brand.

Calling Purina to ask why in the world a dog food would contain HFCS, I was told that was a “very good question.” My representative looked up the Moist and Meaty ingredients and then told me that the HFCS is used to maintain the product “texture,” and she was unsure if HFCS was in any other Purina products, but thought that it would only be found in “moist” ones (which are more like soft and squishy and made to resemble fake ground meat).

Walmart’s Ol’ Roy lists HFCS as the second ingredient – right after beef-by-products. Walmart didn’t respond to my email question, but it’s probably safe to assume that they supposedly use it for the same texture-preservation purpose.

It should be noted that both these dog food products contain the highly controversial preservative ethoxyquin, which aside from its use as a preservative is also registered as a pesticide. Ethoxyquin, originally developed by Monsanto, is implicated by many veterinarians, dog breeders and others to be a cause of numerous degenerative diseases in dogs, including cancer, liver problems and birth deformities in puppies. In 1997 the FDA asked pet-food manufactures to voluntarily lower the maximum level of this preservative/pesticide from 150 to 75 parts per million after tests conducted by Monsanto showed that the higher amount “may not provide an adequate margin of safety…”

But a recent notice at the FDA website shows that sometime between 1997 and 2012, things changed. The maximum amount allowed, it seems, has now gone back to 150 parts per million. However, labeling of the additive is mandatory, whether it is added directly to the food or as a component of another ingredient. So if you don’t like the  idea of feeding your dog a registered pesticide, you might want to check the ingredient listings on the pet food you buy for that as well as for high fructose corn syrup.

A few of the other unlikely places in which HFCS turns up  

While it may not be unusual to see HFCS in all varieties of sodas, condiments and even bread, there are other food items — so-called “healthy” ones and even toddler foods –where you’ll find it listed as an ingredient. These days, HFCS seems to turn up practically everywhere you look, even in places you least expect it. To name just a few:

  • Yoplait ® yogurts – advertised as having “all the health and goodness of yogurt with the delicious blended creaminess of Yoplait®”
  • Gerber Graduates ® toddler animal crackers. This product is marketed as being “perfect for a toddler practicing motor skills by picking up food,” but we think it’s also perfect for toddlers to practice eating junk food. High fructose corn syrup can also be found in Gerber arrowroot cookies and toddler cereal bars.
  • AMP energy drinks by Pepsico,  “You’ve evolved, has your energy drink?” asks the website for this product. But if you want to “evolve” beyond consuming HFCS, this isn’t the drink for you.

On the positive side, an increasing number of products make a point of saying they “contain no high fructose corn syrup.” But there are still far too many that have become repositories for this unnatural additive – including some you’d  never suspect.