A recent article in Advertising Age explained that some major food production companies are doing away with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as their main sweetener ingredient and replacing it with good old plain sugar. The switch to sugar is limited to certain products. I am no doctor or dietitian or nutritionist, but I have taken enough health, wellness and work out classes to know that high fructose corn syrup is unhealthy for two reasons – it’s sugar and it’s processed. And worse yet, it comes in virtually everything you buy that is packaged in the grocery store.
I also know that people are fed up with it. Which is why the switch is being made back to sugar. As HFCS became a cheap and easy way to add “flavor” to pre-packaged foods, obesity rates quickly began to climb. The statistics vary, but a variety of research says that the average American annually consumes upwards of 54 pounds of sugar, just in soda. Total annual sugar consumption for Americans is between 100-120 pounds, each. Yikes! You think you are not one of those people? Check out the foods you normally buy in the grocery store, many have HFCS included as a top ingredient – bread, yogurt, pasta, salad dressing, ketchup, pickles… the list goes on and on.
So why would a major food producer like Hunts Ketchup or Wheat Thins NOT do a major marketing splash when they eliminate HFCS from their foods? It’s not because of the lingering recession; it’s because of the unwillingness to take business away from their other brands that still carry the HFCS. (My guess is that non-HFCS products will be more expensive to purchase.)
According to the same article, Pepsi and Mountain Dew are marketing their products that have switched from HFCS to sugar – but these changes are for a limited time only. So they are making and marketing a short-term change to sugar, not a long-term one. See the Mountain Dew Commercial here:
I have issues on so many levels with all of this information (don’t get me started about why sugar is added to my bread or spaghetti sauce.), but my major concern is that the brands don’t want to advertise that they are switching from HFCS to regular sugar because they don’t want to hurt their HFCS brands, or confuse the consumers that don’t understand the issues with HFCS. Wouldn’t we all be better off if they did shout the change from the mountain top? Shouldn’t they be proud of this switch? Or are they just trying to defer the spotlight from how much sugar (sweetener, HFCS, whatever…) are in their products to begin with?
To make matters worse, we still have the Corn Refiners Association running a major advertising campaign stating that there is no difference between HFCS and sugar. The implication being that either are fine for you. You can see one of their commercials here:
OK – I’ll give them that added sweetener is still just that – added sweet. But HFCS is still processed, and our bodies react differently to it than to sugar. And I firmly believe that when a switch is made to a healthier ingredient, we should celebrate this, not hide it.