Why it’s so important to let food companies know we oppose HFCS

Posted by
October 5, 2012

Some readers of this blog may be wondering why it’s important to sign a petition such as the one we’ve posted to let the food industry know that consumers do care about whether their food contains high fructose corn syrup. Isn’t it enough for them to simply avoid it?

My answer to that would be: Do you want the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) speaking on your behalf? Because that in essence is what they’re doing by telling food manufacturers that 96 percent of consumers don’t care whether or not there’s HFCS in the products they make.

If you’re OK with that, then I’d say you don’t need to bother signing this petition. But I know I don’t want a bunch of lobbyists misrepresenting my views in this manner – and by so doing, encouraging the continuation of a practice that so many of us strongly oppose. Because should such a tactic succeed, it not only limits your freedom of choice as a consumer by making it necessary for you to cross many products off your list, but helps make the society you live in a less healthy one.

The Corn Refiners Association is a “trade association” whose job it is to promote, defend, and do “damage control” whenever the media publishes anything critical of its product. The CRA, based in Washington, D.C. Represents the ‘wet milling’ corn refining industry in the U.S. that makes corn products such as animal feed, starch, and of course, high fructose corn syrup.

The CRA worked hard trying to rebrand HFCS and have it officially called “corn sugar.” There were the corn field and punch party commercials on TV, newspaper and magazine ads, a multimillion dollar media spend. None of that worked. The Food & Drug Administration rejected its “corn sugar” petition at the end of May, telling CRA president Audrae Erickson that sugar is “a solid, dried, and crystallized food,” which is not exactly how one would describe HFCS.

If at first you don’t succeed, try another strategy

When all did not go well with both consumers, who sent in comments by the thousands to the FDA against the name switch, and the agency itself, the CRA switched gears and started courting food and beverage manufacturers as well as restaurants with the message that only four percent of customers give a hoot whether or not a product contains HFCS.

We know that’s not true. More and more consumers are checking labels, and HFCS is right at the top of the list of ingredients folks are eliminating from their diet. Food manufacturers have responded by removing this test-tube sweetener from many of their products as well, which is why it’s so important to not let the CRA misrepresent what we want (and don’t want).

Here are some of the comments left by individuals who have signed our petition. Please add your voice by clicking here.

I look for foods without high fructose corn syrup due to an allergy to corn and any of its products. Please remove it from our foods. Protect our children and us.

I avoid HFCS whenever I can and I resent that I have to protect myself from a substance that is unnecessary and harmful and that my tax dollars support this through corn subsidies. We are not allowing our citizens healthy lifestyle choices when we support something as unhealthy as this.

Every soft drink I look at contains HFCS. I don’t want this!

Guess what? I’m a consumer who READS LABELS…I’m glad they’re on the products I buy because I want to know what I’m feeding myself and people I serve. One thing I DO NOT want to eat NOR serve is HFCS or “corn sugar/syrup” unless there is no other substitute available *and usually there is!

I EXPECT that accurate information is on the labels so I can make good decisions about the food I purchase. Otherwise, I’m going to buy only local, eco- consumer friendly fresh foods and STOP buying packaged foods from companies I don’t trust: like Tyson, Campbells, Kraft, ConAgra Foods to name a few AND help others know that healthier foods and food makers are are available. These companies put HFCS/corn syrup in so many of their foods that I often ignore their products as soon as I see the name.

We the People speak: We value our health. NO to high fructose corn syrup!