Here's the letter I received via email at 5:35 pm on June 11th, the day the paper came out.
June 11, 2009
Hod Palmer, III
Dear Mr. Palmer:
We read the June 11 article “Boldo's Thoughts on Food,” with interest. Unfortunately, the suggestion that is an “industrial additive” is misleading. We would like to provide you with science-based information on this safe sweetener and be a reference for you for future articles.
High fructose corn syrup, sugar, and several fruit juices are all nutritionally the same. High fructose corn syrup is essentially a corn sugar.
All sweeteners require processing to produce a food-grade product. Many of the same processes are used to make both high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
The process for making high fructose corn syrup involves separating the corn kernels into four basic components that are fairly common – starch, germ, fiber and protein. The starch is further refined to make high fructose corn syrup.
The sugar refining process consists of numerous steps and process aids including: multiple clarifying steps with heat and lime, polymer flocculent and phosphoric acid; multiple evaporation steps; centrifugation; washing with pressure filtration or chemical treatment; and decolorization with carbon or bone char. Hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide, or enzymes are added to liquid sucrose to break the bond between glucose and fructose to make invert sugar. Sucrose from sugar beets is processed by similar methods.
High fructose corn syrup is used in the food supply because of its many functional benefits. For example, it keeps food fresh, retains moisture in bran cereals, helps keep breakfast and energy bars moist, maintains consistent flavors in beverages and keeps ingredients evenly dispersed in condiments. High fructose corn syrup enhances spice and fruit flavors in yogurts and marinades. In salad dressings and spaghetti sauce, it improves flavor by reducing tartness. In addition to its excellent browning characteristics for breads and baked goods, it is a highly fermentable nutritive sweetener and prolongs product freshness.
To read the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup, please visit www.SweetSurprise.com. Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information about the products made from corn.
Thank you for your consideration,
In 2008 the CRA launched a multi-million dollar public relations campaign called “Changing the Conversation About High Fructose Corn Syrup.” According to the CRA’s website “Articles in the publication discuss the elements of the campaign and the science-based messages it employs to dispel the myths about high fructose corn syrup and highlight the nutritional equivalence between high fructose corn syrup and sugar.”
HFCS has been the derided as a primary or contributing cause of increased health problems like obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, and heart disease. It is used in a wide variety of products like soft drinks, cookies and cakes, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, yoghurt and salad dressings. It’s benefits to the processed food industry include it’s cost, which is less than sugar, it’s moisture retaining and fermentable properties, it’s browning ability, and it’s flavor maintaining elements, amongst others. Estimates are that HFCS is found in 25% or more of products in an average supermarket.
The industry asserts that HFCS is the same as sugar, and that it’s consumption by the public is safe, with no impact on obesity and the other health problems it has been accused of causing.
However, a quick check of respected sources such as WebMD, the Mayo Clinic and the American Diabetes Association suggest caution about over consumption of HFCS, that some refining processes leave mercury residues in HFCS, and concern that it may suppress the hormone leptin which makes one feel satiated, thus leading to over eating.
My concern with HFCS lies in it’s origin: the industrial agribusiness of GMO hybridized corn utilizing large amounts of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to produce a monoculture crop, and the resulting destruction of the land including massive amounts of run-off pollution that degrades water qualities way down stream, and has resulted in dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. The corn industry touts it’s increasing corn yields as more bushels are produced per acre, so less land needs to be planted, and it’s decreasing reliance on fertilizers and herbicides. Sugar tariffs keep out inexpensive foreign sources, protecting our domestic industries, and allowing HFCS to enter the sweeteners’ business, where, because of its relative pricing power it fast became the sweetener of choice.
I don’t have space to go into the subsidized giant agribusinesses in our country, and the abuses to the food chain the Farm Bill, the FDA and USDA support or fail to regulate. The good news is that there is a food revolution occurring in our country as more and more people become involved in localvore groups, Slow Food conviviums, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offerings from nearby farms. Our agricultural base is diversifying and more people are purchasing their foods from area growers, including many grocery stores, which are carrying local products, as well as farmer’s markets and farm stands.