Hide and Sweet: Surprising Places You'll Find High Fructose Corn Syrup

PHOTO: The FDA has issued new recommendations on honey labels.
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In some not-so-sweet news, the honey you spoon into your tea may contain high fructose corn syrup, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue new recommendations this week.

If adopted, the new rules would prevent food companies from labeling anything "honey" that doesn’t come directly from the hive. Gooey sweet stuff padded with added sugars would be labeled "blend of sugar and honey" or "blend of honey and corn syrup," under the new rules.

Of the more than 400 million pounds of honey Americans consume each year, according to the National Honey Board, more than half is imported from other countries with less stringent food labeling and safety guidelines. These products are often "adulterated" with added sugars to make them more affordable, a process the American Beekeeping Federation has said gives the cheaper substitutes an unfair advantage. Meanwhile, consumers are none the wiser.

Though the idea of fake honey may set you abuzz, Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, offered up this observation: "Nutritionally, honey isn't much different from sugar.”

But Jacobson said consumers who want honey deserve to get exactly that, and not something diluted with cheaper sugar or corn syrup.

High fructose corn syrup is just one of the many names sugar goes by. Anything on the ingredient list that is a syrup, juice concentrate or that ends in “-ose” is likely sugar in disguise. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar daily according to the American Heart Association. The World Health Organization recommends taking in no more than six teaspoons per day of the sweet stuff in any form.

Honey is just the latest surprising place where high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners lurk. You probably already know you’ll find these sugars in foods including ketchup, salad dressings and applesauce but did you realize you’ll also find them in these five foods?

Related: The 6 Best Rules of Toddler Nutrition

Hide and Sweet

PHOTO: Many popular American beers contain high fructose corn syrup.
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Beer

Alcohol is regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not the FDA. Hence, you won’t find a list of ingredients on the label of your favorite brews.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that the list of acceptable ingredients in beer ranges from fish bladder to beaver’s anal gland to high fructose corn syrup. When the website Foodbabe.com investigated the ingredients list of individual beers, it found that many American beers do contain high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars, including some derived from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Hide and Sweet

PHOTO: Despite their health halo many protein bars are packed with added sugars.
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Protein Bars

Despite the "health halo" surrounding protein bars, a quick scan of the ingredients labels reveals that some contain more high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars than a regular candy bar. And no one needs 20 to 30 grams of sugar to power them through a 45-minute workout, nutritionists note. Many bars and gels are loaded with artificial coloring and fats, too.

Hide and Sweet

PHOTO: Many packaged bread products list high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
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Bread

Switching from squishy white breads to whole grain breads may not do much for your health. Many whole wheat breads and even some whole grain breads conceal several grams of high fructose corn syrup per serving. Some flavors of frozen bagels, for example, contain up to 5 grams of added sugars. Check the label before you buy.

Hide and Sweet

PHOTO: Tonic Water may be bitter but it can contain more than 20 grams of sugar in an 8 ounce serving.
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Tonic Water

You might think you’re in the clear by sipping this bitter beverage instead of a soda but you’d be wrong. Tonic water contains a belt-popping 22 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving and lists high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient after water. That’s only four fewer grams of sugar than the same size serving of cola.

Hide and Sweet

PHOTO: Packaged mac and cheese is high in high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars.
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Mac and Cheese

Here’s another savory food that may contain an alarming amount of high fructose corn syrup and other added sweeteners. Sometimes the sugar is hiding in plain sight in the ingredients list and sometimes it’s disguised as "corn syrup solids" or maltodextrin. Microwavable mac and cheese products tend to have the highest amount of added sugars.

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