High-Fructose Corn Syrup No Longer “Natural”

For the first time, Capri Sun will not be labeled “All Natural.”
From the CL&P Blog:

    This past week two major food companies stopped a deceptive practice — claiming that their drinks were “natural” when they were sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Both companies acted after legal action by the DC-based nutrition and health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)….
    On Monday, January 8, CSPI sued Kraft Foods for claiming that Capri Sun drinks were “natural,” when in fact HFCS was the second ingredient after water. The company immediately announced that it was completely getting rid of the “natural” claim….
    Then, on Friday, January 12, Cadbury Schweppes announced that it, too, would stop calling HFCS-filled 7UP “all natural.” This announcement culminated several months of negotiations between Cadbury and CSPI.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is a complicated substance that takes a lot of processing to produce. —MEGHANN MARCO

CSPI’s Litigation Project Forces Change By Two Major Food Companies [CL&P]

PREVIOUSLY: Kraft Lawsuit: Capri Sun Isn’t “All Natural”

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  1. bluegus32 says:

    It’s about freaking time! I never quite understood how they could possibly label their stuff all natural when it was in fact not all natural.

    Course, not like I ever believed that Capri-Sun was all natural. I mean, you can taste the sugar in it. Ain’t no way it’s natural.

  2. Falconfire says:

    wow reading that Wiki artcle, if even half of its true, its really paints a much different picture of our “poor farmers”

    Makes the airline industry look tame.

  3. DeeJayQueue says:

    well, you can put as much sugar in something as you want, it’s still natural.

    I’m simultaneously happy and pissed. I’m happy that someone has taken them to task over this, but i’m pissed that instead of switching to sugar they just ditched the “all natural.” Not so much because of Capri-Sun, I never drink that stuff, but I was really hoping that when 7-up started advertising as “all natural” not even a few months ago, that it meant they switched to sugar. I was pissed that it wasn’t the case but figured there was some loophole that allowed them to call it “all natural”. Guess not.

  4. kcskater says:

    I was pretty shocked when 7-up decided to aggressively advertise as ‘All Natural.’ I never quite understood how they could claim that label. I think they were trying to ride the coat tails of the organic and all natural movements that seem to be sweeping the country. I’m glad they got called on it!

  5. Falconfire says:

    you know I really wonder. This “epidemic” of obesity really started in the early 80′s around the time sugar was pulled out of foods thanks to the government and farm industry.

    makes you wonder if the reliance on HFCS thanks to sugar having a artificially high price has a lot to do with it.

  6. AcilletaM says:

    Falconfire, what do you mean by your “poor farmers” comment? I’m not sure I’m reading the same thing you are. This article refers to coporate megafarms and not your friendly family farmer whose a member of a co-op.

  7. synergy says:

    I believe if I remember correctly HFCS effects metabolism so if you eat a lot of it your triglycerides go up.

    This page mentions all this and cites some scientific papers:
    http://www.drmirkin.com/nutrition/3021.html

  8. olegna says:

    I’m a advocate of the Fair Trade movement. Here’s a little anecdote: I covered the sugar industry in Mexico for a bit. HFCS is essentially a manufactured product. Processors buy corn (or grow it in Kansas or whatever, buy very little fo the corn locally from around their offshore processing facilites) then send the corn to Third World manufacturing plants because industrialized countries have better agro technologies.

    Basically what happens is that local sugarcane farmers get screwed when ADM opens up a couple of HSFC plants in their countries (ADM has, I believe two in Mexico) because sending corn from the US to these plants is unfortunately cheaper than buying from growers (in much the same way the farmer’s market peaches cost more than the ones at Wal-Mart). This is why Mexico, a major corn producer (they literally invented it from a plant called teozinte through thousands of years of selective growing) imports corn.

    The so-called free trade agreements are heavily in favor of manufacturing over agriculture. Multinationals get lucrative deals to open these plants in foreign countries, and then the sugarcane farmers get shafted because they utilize traditional (and more costly) means of producing sugar from cane. Free trade agreement s have ZERO protections for farmers, for labor rights, etc. But it gives great treatment to the Archer Daniels Midlands of the world. I don’t think that’s “free trade”.

    Anyone who has spent time in Mexico over the years might have heard people say how Coke tasted better in Mexico (the beverage, silly!). This was because until the mid-90′s Coca Cola produced in Mexico used sugar from cane. Now it’s made with HFSC, so it tastes the same.

    Anyway, aside from the fact that our collective asses are getting bigger by consuming huge amounts of dirt-cheap HSFC found in so many processed food products, the HSFC industry, utilizing deferential treatment free-trade agreements give to manufacturing, is putting cane farmers out of work worldwide — but it’s good for ADM stockholders, I suppose.

    This is partly an ideological debate: if everything is about cost effectiveness, we might as well shut down every farmer’s market in the US and just buy everything at Wal-Mart.

    I don’t roll that way.

    Buy less, consume quality, pay for it with the savings in buying less. You’ll live longer, eat healthier, look better and help farmers. I prefer that.

  9. synergy says:

    olegna: I buy 12oz coke bottles down here in Texas bottled in Mexico and are made with real sugar.

  10. infinitysnake says:

    I think it has everything to do with it- if you see the increase in HFCS use overlaid (in graph form) over the increase in obesity in america, they correspond almost perfectly.

  11. Falconfire says:

    Falconfire, what do you mean by your “poor farmers” comment? I’m not sure I’m reading the same thing you are. This article refers to coporate megafarms and not your friendly family farmer whose a member of a co-op.

    Most government subsidies and lobbying is by the megafarms. The family run ones get dicked over routinely by the government.

  12. timmus says:

    This was because until the mid-90′s Coca Cola produced in Mexico used sugar from cane. Now it’s made with HFSC, so it tastes the same.

    Wait a minute — Are you serious? A couple of years ago I was buying Mexican Coca-Cola at H-E-B in Austin (glass bottles, Spanish labelling, the works) and “sugar” is what was in the ingredients. I’m not saying you’re wrong but I’d like to get to the bottom of this, as it said “sugar” but I don’t recall it tasting a whole lot better than American coke.

  13. kerry says:

    Thanks for that, olegna. The Mexican sodas I see for sale up here generally use sucrose (cane sugar) and not HFCS. I don’t buy the Coca-Cola, though, I like the fruity drinks. Of course, since most of them have reusable bottles that look like they’ve been in circulation for about 50 years, maybe the labeling is inaccurate.
    Still, Mexican Crush is better than American Crush (same for Fanta and Squirt).

  14. stephen5 says:

    I hate HFCS, and much prefer sugar as a sweetener, but, I wish you wouldn’t site wikipedia as a resource.
    As soon as you see corn being called “Maize” you know the article has been written by someone with a political bias. (Unless of course the article is written in Arawak.)
    The jargon used in the article pretty much brakes down to “you boil corn to make corn syrup.” The enzymes mentioned all naturally occur in corn, more may be added to speed the breakdown, but they haven’t been created in some Frankenstein Lab.

    The CSPI, sigh, here is a link to an article discussing 91 of their food scares, all have pretty much turned out to be wrong.
    http://www.junkscience.com/falsealarm.pdf

    Even the wiki article points out HFCS is no more fattening than any other sugar. Fructose, glucose, sucrose are all fattening.

    ADM is a monster corporation, but they mostly buy from “family” farms. It’s cheaper and there is no risk involved (although they probably own some farms of their own.)
    Farms of 40 acres and a mule no longer exist. All working “family” farms are megafarms, or they are being kept going by the very subsidies the article derides. In my area of Missouri/Illinois small farms are 1500 acres.

    Anyhow, I suspect the real story is the “all natural” tag is not getting them any increased sales or they would have fought this out for another 20 years.
    Lawyers on retainer are the most frightening 3 words in the English language.

  15. major disaster says:

    If you want Coke made with sugar rather than corn syrup, you can also buy it every year around Passover (though I’m not sure if it’s available everywhere, or just in places with substantial Jewish populations). For some reason, corn syrup is not kosher for Passover, so they make a kosher version with sugar. I think Pepsi might also do this, but I’m not sure. I bought some this past year – the bottles look the same, but the caps had different colors (I think they were yellow), and of course you can tell the difference if you check the ingredients.

  16. Sorenso says:

    Gee-willikers it must be “obvious day” at camp stupid? I think a Preschooler could have told them that.

    Thanks for following up Consumerist, I was wondering what happened to that story :)

  17. TWinter says:

    @stephen5

    I don’t think the use of ‘maize’ on Wikipedia is reflective of political bias. Wikipedia guidelines make a point of insisting that they employ multiple varieties of English and that authors should choose words with the widest international currency. The word “corn” has a different meaning in English speaking countries outside North America (i.e. UK, Ireland, Australia, etc.) (I think it basically means “grain” or perhaps it’s a certain subcategory of grains, I’m not really sure.) In any case, corn doesn’t mean the same thing to all speakers of English worldwide. In the Wikipedia context, maize is clearly the better word because it will be understood more or less the same way in all English speaking countries.

  18. curlyheatherg says:

    @stephen5

    I can’t believe you used junkscience.com like its a reliable source. That site was set up by a Fox News columnist and recieved corporate funding from Exxon and the tobacco companies. It has been totally discredited; even the Cato Institute (once a sponsor) wants nothing to do with it. IMHO and that of many other librarians and educators, its no better than a flog.

  19. AcilletaM says:

    stephen5,
    travel north from the ADM headquarters area and the farms can in fact get smaller. No mules though.

  20. stephen5 says:

    TWinter: Visit http://www.snackspot.org.uk/search.cgi?term=popcorn
    You will notice they are not calling it PoppingMaize. Perhaps they are popping wheat.

    curlyheatherg: An ad hominem attack against the website. Are you saying the facts are wrong, or just that you don’t like the messenger? Wikipedia admits many of their “facts” are wrong…

    AcilletaM: I’m not sure where you mean. North of Decatur, IL (ADM’s HQ) is Chicago, then Wisconsin, which does have smaller farms but many are dairy based not maize growers.
    Corn is selling for about $2.50 a bushel, an average yield per acre is 150 bushels (CBoT report) so if you have 100 acres of corn you can expect to sell it for about $37,500. Not really enough to keep a family farm going, pay the bills, equipment costs, labor costs, transportation costs, taxes etc..
    Googling average acreage will get you a misleading result, due to soak the rich tax laws, most farmers own the small lots that surround their homes and out buildings and “lease” the rest of the land from relatives and neighbors (10 people with 200 acres pay substantionally less taxes than 1 person with 2000 acres.)

    By the way, Decatur is easily the smelliest place I have ever been. It’s mostly the ADM plant pumping out some foul stench 24 hours a day. I think it’s a Soy processing plant. They have big billboards all over town warning expectant mothers and children that the municipal water supply is unsafe for them to drink. They have several Frank Lloyd Wright “Prairie” homes though and they are freakin’ beautiful.

  21. olegna says:

    I’m glad a couple of people pointed out the Coca-Cola thing. I did a little research online and found this story. Apparently Coca-Cola in Mexico (bottled by Coca-Cola/Femsa, Latin America’s largest soft drink maker and distributor) switched BACK to sugar in 2002. My information was old: they had switched to HSFC in the mid or late 90′s. Says here the Mexican gov’t slapped a 20% tax on soft drinks sweetened by HSFC. (I’m sure that freaked out Big Argo, like DeKalb and ADM which supply the HSFC and the corn used to make it. (They also make corn-based feedstock for cows, which is a whole other, awful, disgusting story.) Yes, yes, 20% tax – damn commies? But, I can say that I spent a day with sugarcane farmers in Mexico City, about 100 of whom had been living in tents camped outside of the Commerce Secretariat in a year-long sit-in. I recall one of them saying they were getting about $8 a ton. It takes a man a very long day to cut a ton of cane sugar. All so we can have cheap Twinkies. (And don’t get me started on the US politicians in big, red square states can fight for subsidies for 150,000 families in the US that quixotically grow sugarbeets (??) to compete with these farmers in Mexico.)

    **
    Mexico’s Coca-Cola bottlers to replace fructose with sugar
    1/20/02 – Mexican bottlers of Coca-Cola soft drinks are replacing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are switching to pure sugar. According to industry sources, the new 20% tax on soft drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) prompted the change. Mexico’s 14 Coca-Cola bottlers as a whole used 30% fructose and 70% sugar in their plants before the new tax was imposed, the sources said. Mexico’s Congress passed a tax package on Jan. 1 including the new levy on soft drinks made with non-sugar sweeteners. To protect its sugar industry, ailing due to chronic over-supply and enormous debts, Mexico has put high import duties on U.S. HFCS. Mexico is the world’s biggest per-capita consumer of Coca-Cola products. FROM: http://www.worldfoodscience.org/cms/?pid=1000347 (the story is buried down on the page)

    **


    >> As soon as you see corn being called “Maize” you know the article has been written by someone with a political bias. (Unless of course the article is written in Arawak.)

    Huh? I almost coughed up my morning coffee. Thanks!

    >> ADM is a monster corporation, but they mostly buy from “family” farms. It’s cheaper and there is no risk involved (although they probably own some farms of their own.)
    Farms of 40 acres and a mule no longer exist. All working “family” farms are megafarms, or they are being kept going by the very subsidies the article derides. In my area of Missouri/Illinois small farms are 1500 acres.

    On the other hand, I agree with this to some degree. I think America has a solid agro industry (except for growing things we don’t need to grow, like sugarbeets) and it does indeed feed much of the world. (We may not be doing enough in Darfur, but, to be fair, a lot of those refugees are eating American grains provided by the US taxpayer through the UN.) The average family farm in America is high tech operation compared to the average family farm in Mexico. What bothers me is the tendency of FTAs (free trade agreements) to favor manufacturing (the processing of HSFC is a manufacturing process within the ago industry) and consolidation (not just of companies, but of the agro products themselves – the average Mexican village grows like a dozen varieties of maize (which is what corn is called in Spanish, America’s second language). Another problem with the way FTA’s are pushed through is that it becomes a “race to the bottom”: small American farmers get hurt as do small Mexican farmers. American farmers can’t and will not in our lifetimes compete with what the Third World produces the cheapest (such as sugar). The problem is this: the FTA’s we are pushing through are good for when Americans when they need to buy cheap lawn furniture on your credit card at Wal-Mart, but you pay one of the world’s highest prices for sugar, avocados, mangos and bananas (and pharmaceuticals, by the way). Why? (The short answer: we subsidize agro, so does Europe, so do many corrupt Third World countries.) Why does America have import quotas on agro products that America shouldn’t be producing in the first place if you consider basic capitalist economic theory? These FTAs favor big business. They need to pay more attention to workers rights and environmental concerns. This is a huge issue, and the HFCS debate is a good one to illustrate the fundamental problems with agricultural “free” trade. I disagree that the hand that guide the “free” market is invisible. It’s highly visible.

  22. olegna says:

    PS – I guess considering this Coca Cola thing, I suppose if you purchase these Coke products made with sugar you’re creating a demand for sugar products, like cane sugar and sugarbeets (which is basically the same thing). Not sure how that “trickles down” to those $8-a-ton farmers in Veracruz (who don’t get much subsidy), or the small-time sugarbeet farmers in Nebraska (who get more of a subsidy), but if you’re gonna drink Coke . . .

    I urge everyone to direct their shopping toward products that reduce the middlemen (the basis of the “Fair Trade” movement) and buy directly from the producers when you can. If you do that, you can pretty much eliminate HSFC from your diet — that is unless you eat beef from cows that get gastrointestinal infections and are fed antibiotics to fight the bloating that occurs when grass eating animals are force fed grain-based feedstock because it’s cheaper — antibiotics and hormones and sugars that scientists have shown show up on the dinner plate . . . god, this is a digression, but has anyone ever tried comparing how a steak make from corn-fed cows caramelizes in the pan compared to steak from a cow that eats grass? — I might be imagining things, but the corn-cows seem to produce meat that seems to have more of a glaze to it after being cooked on a hot skillet — and it has a smell that’s distinct from “natural” beef — this would make sense because sugars break down into glaze, and then burn with a sweet-burnt smell when placed on a hot skillet).

  23. stephen5 says:

    We have wandered pretty far afield here.
    Is “fountain” Coke made with HFCS? I seem to remember that it is touted as being the original recipe (without the coke of course.)

    From
    Amber Waves (it’s a .gov so it’s automatically suspect but…)
    (www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/February05/Findings/Sugarbeets.htm)

    U.S. sugar beet producers incurred operating costs (inputs, hired labor, etc.) averaging $18.37 per ton of sugar beets in 2000; and total costs (including depreciation in farm machinery, value of land and operator labor) averaged $37.30 per ton. But costs vary widely among farmers due to differences in yields, input use, irrigation, farm size, and location.

    At the 2000 average market price of $34.20 per ton of sugar beets, 88 percent of U.S. sugar beet producers were able to cover their operating costs and 35 percent were able to cover their total (economic) costs. In 2000, producers had the opportunity to participate in the payment-in-kind (PIK) diversion program to destroy sugar beets on a specified number of acres in return for a like amount of government-owned sugar. With the 2000 diversion program providing nearly three-quarters of producers an average of $44 worth of sugar per planted acre, 89 percent of producers were able to cover their operating costs and 43 percent were able to cover their total (economic) costs of sugar beet production.

    I lost the site for this quote:

    In a House vote to keep the sugar price subsidy, the 217 voting for the subsidy received an average of nearly $6,000 each. The ones voting against only averaged $853. Senators voting for the subsidy received an average of $13,473, and those voting against only $1,461. That vote ended up costing consumers about fifty cents more for a five pound bag of sugar.

    The real problem is farming is just a lousy business to be in. If you are in Mexico getting $8 a ton or in western Minnesota getting $34 a ton, it’s still about volume which is why the “big-box farm” is replacing the “mom & pop farm”, and has been since the 1930′s.

    Back to the maize thing, I don’t see any other Spanish nouns in the article (actually maiz in American Spanish not maize, callo in Spain.)

    Wikipedia guidelines make a point of insisting that they employ multiple varieties of English and that authors should choose words with the widest international currency.

    Pure PC, much like the French language laws. The fact is American English and usage has become dominate, other countries English have become dialects. I’m not saying it’s good, just a fact. There are more of us and we produce a greater amount of written and spoken media/products.

  24. Smoking Pope says:

    For anyone interested, Fast Food Nation (the excellent book, not the horribly slanted movie) discussed the “All Natural” tag. There are substances that you can directly extract from a plant that are not considered “all natural”, while some substances that are entirely created in a beaker are “all natural”.

    One suspects this counter-intuitive situation is due to lobbyists, but I forget if that was discussed.

  25. synergy says:

    I guess everyone uses the word “wrap” instead of “taco.”

  26. olegna says:

    >> maiz in American Spanish not maize, callo in Spain.

    This is way off topic now, but there are 120 million Mexicans and 35 million Spaniards. By your own logic we should be saying maize not callo, which actually means “scallops” not “corn” in what you might call claddical Spanish. KLeep in mind: Spaniard (or Brits, for that matter) wouldn’t have had a word for “corn” until after Columbus.

    As far as the other stuff: I assume you’re “pro-big-box” don;t like France and I’m “anti-big-box” and I like France. That pretty much says it all. I’d rather eat at my house :)

  27. stephen5 says:


    I assume you’re “pro-big-box” don;t like France and I’m “anti-big-box” and I like France. That pretty much says it all. I’d rather eat at my house :)

    Not at all. I am actually very anti-big box. I am also anti big-box medicine, but if I need brain surgery (and I might ’cause my brain hurts) I would rather go to a big-box hospital than a mom & pop barber/apothecary, or the Mayo Clinic rather than the 23rd Street Clinic. Sometimes bigger is better.

    France is a nice place, but they spent so many years resisting the “Americanization” of their society that they completely missed the “North Africanization”… (Google France + Riots.)

    The growth, import and export of food is a very political issue, especially in Europe, and has been since well before the British Corn Laws (the wiki article, that I think the corn is wheat comment stems from, is excellent) so I stand by my original comment, that calling corn maize, in an article written in English, is a conscious political decision by the author.

    As for wrap vs taco, occasionally words from other languages do make it into English. I can think of three or four right off the top of my head. The oh so reliable wiki says “Care should be taken when using the word taco outside of Mexico, as the RAE lists 27 possible meanings for the word.”

    I thought that callo thing sounded wrong, but I trusted a Spanish dictionary site. Darn internet.

    The Royal Spanish Academy (or Real Academia Española) in Spain is fighting the “Latin Americanization” of the Castillian language and has been since 1713 (see France above.)

  28. czechm8 says:

    I am a big Wikipedia fan and I flinch a little bit everytime someone bashes the wiki of my life. A number of people are too quick to dismiss WP as inaccurate, but fail to critcize the historical inaccuracy of school textbooks. If only because it made it to press, individuals associate authority to it.

    Following quote is from http://ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1094678265.php

    Not long after Fasoldt’s column was passed around online with derision from most bloggers, Techdirt’s Mike Masnick called for a test case: Insert a few errors into Wikipedia and find out how long they would last without being edited. Alex Halavais, assistant professor at SUNY Buffalo’s School of Informatics, inserted 13 provably incorrect entries into Wikipedia, and within a few hours, they were caught and fixed.

    Also read http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4530930.stm

  29. notallcompaniesarebad says:

    “Then, on Friday, January 12, Cadbury Schweppes announced that it, too, would stop calling HFCS-filled 7UP “all natural.” “

    Interestingly this doesn’t apply to another Cadbury Schweppes product, Snapple.