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SNL Takes Shot At HFCS Commercials

Since it first aired in the 1970’s Saturday Night Live has tackled issues the regular media won’t touch.  From time to time they have also been guilty of trading their ethics in order to advance their personal political agendas (especially the past four or five years).  But they still occasionally take on “the man” on controversial issues.

Recently SNL spoofed those highly unethical Sweet Surprise disinformation commercials the folks at the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) lobby put together in an attempt to confuse the general public about the ever increasing dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (aka HFCS, aka Corn Syrup).  This is not only a big deal because it is the first real attention the national media has given to the issue but also because it seems to buck at SNL’s recent trend of blindly supporting the Obama Administration regardless of its obvious failures in certain areas.

You see, Monsanto and other large agribusiness companies (the ones who profit from HFCS) were among the largest contributors to the Obama candidacy.  In return for their financial backing they were rewarded by getting to put their own people in charge of the government agencies that are charged with regulating them.  The number of agribusiness lobbyists now operating within this administration is staggering with the two most notable moles being USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and FDA Food Czar Michael Taylor.  The result is that neither department can be considered reliable anymore.

I was recently at an event with a number of food writers.  Most worked directly for large publications.  They related tales of how food writers were being harassed by Sweet Surprise anytime they wrote something unflattering about HFCS.  If they wrote an opinion column they were hit with libel suits.  If they dared to publish any of the mountains of scientific research that reveals the truth about HFCS they are getting buried with cease and desist orders and other frivolous ligation.

From a legal standpoint none of these suits have a leg to stand on.  Opinion columns (like this one) are just that, a statement of opinion and are Constitutionally protected.  And it has never been a crime to print scientific results.  That isn’t the point, CRA knows they don’t stand a chance of winning any of these suits.  The point is to harass the parent organizations into telling their food writers to just leave well enough alone.  It is litigious terrorism.

Well, chalk one up for the good guys:

Skippy Peanut Butter Recall

Monsanto does it again.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 4, 2011 – Unilever United States, Inc. Skippy Peanut Butter Recalltoday announced a limited recall of Skippy® Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Skippy® Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread, because it may be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No other Skippy® products are affected by this recall.

The product was distributed to retail outlets in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The affected product, which is packaged in 16.3 oz plastic jars, is as follows:

  • UPCs: 048001006812 and 048001006782 (located on the side of the jar’s label below the bar code.)
  • Best-If-Used-By Dates: MAY1612LR1, MAY1712LR1, MAY1812LR1, MAY1912LR1, MAY2012LR1 and MAY2112LR1(Stamped on the lid of the jar.)

 

To date, no illnesses related to this issue have been reported.

The recall was initiated as the result of a routine sampling program by the company, which revealed that these finished products may contain the bacteria.

Consumers who have purchased Skippy® Reduced Fat Peanut Butter Spread with the above UPCs and Best-If-Used-By-Dates are urged to discard the product immediately and call the company for a replacement coupon. Consumers can contact the company at1-800-453-3432, which is operational 24 hours a day, for information on the recall. In addition, a consumer services representative is available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 AM and 6:00 PM EST.

 

Has the First Lady Crossed the Line?

Though I have some issues with the job the President has done thus far I have continued to have respect for Mrs. Obama.  Her mission to teach people how to grow their own produce is commendable.  More than that it’s admirable.

The White House kitchen garden has inspired thousands of school gardens across the nation.  That is a positive not only because it teaches children to have a relationship with their food but because it has helped ease a little of the burden on the cash strapped tax payers in this country.

But. . .

HypocriteRecently it was revealed that Mrs. Obama has been meeting behind closed doors with the National Restaurant Association (the other NRA) in an attempt to impose her personal views on the menus of tens of thousands of restaurants.  The First Lady has tried everything short of having her husband send in the troops.  She has spent the past year trying to strong arm restaurant owners to reduce the size of portions and to, in essence, replace everything a child likes to eat with everything they hate.

With all due respect, Mrs. Obama, get your nose out of my menu.  Let’s set aside for a moment that this is an egregious infringement on our civil liberties.  Let’s also jump over the fact that a non-employee of the federal government is attempting to make US domestic policy.  Let’s get straight to the burr under my saddle.

When Mrs. Obama went from setting a positive example of proper diet to mandating proper diet she moved into the category of hypocrite.  It’s one thing to wage the war on obesity.  It’s a whole different story when you try to force me to follow your example while your husband is auctioning off the nation’s food system to the very people responsible for causing the obesity epidemic.

In 2007 then Senator Obama spoke at the Iowa Democratic Primary Debate saying, “. . . we can also improve the economic engines in a lot of these rural communities, and that is something that I’m absolutely committed to doing as President, but it’s going to require overcoming the excess influence of agribusiness lobbying.”  He would go on to say “I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am President, they won’t find a job in my White House.”

Well Mr. Obama’s very first hire after his election was to tab Monsanto lobbyist Tom Vilsack to head the USDA.  His very first hire mind you.  Not White House Chief of Staff, not Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense but Secretary of Agriculture.  Campaigns, after all, are not cheap.  He has since gone on to place no less than six lobbyists for the agribusiness giant into policy-making positions in the USDA and FDA that directly regulate Monsanto.

Granted Michelle is not responsible for Barry’s business dealings.  After all we elected him, not her.  However, before Mrs. Obama dare try to force us to reorder our homes she should first take a look at her own.

I believe that in covertly trying to manipulate the populace into changing their eating habits while her own husband continues an unholy alliance with agribusiness is nothing short of hypocrisy.  There is nothing worse than a hypocrite for a hypocrite combines all of the distasteful characteristics of a con artist with the self-righteous edicts of a narcissist.

The respect I once had for the First Lady is now gone.  I cannot trust someone capable of such hypocrisy.  By employing cloak and dagger techniques like this Michelle Obama has done serious damage to her own image.  However, it would be easy for Mrs. Obama to earn our trust back.  She simply need to publicly admonish the President for hiring Vilsack, Michael Taylor and all those other Monsanto lobbyists.  Do that, Mrs. Obama, and you begin to regain our respect; do it not and I must politely ask you to butt out.

HFCS Producers Revamping Disinformation Ads

The Corn Refiners Association, makers of those humorous but scientifically unfounded “Sweet Surprise” commercials are changing their approach.  In their first barrage of commercials meant to confuse the public about the many harmful effects of their product, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), they ran ads featuring two attractive 30-somethings engaging in a conversation that went something like this:

Actor 1: You want a soda?

Actor 2: Are you kidding?  That has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it.  You know what they say about that stuff right?

Actor 1: No what?

Actor 2: Er, uh. [shrugs]

The gist of those first commercials was that if you didn’t know about the dangers that extensive scientific research has uncovered about the effects of HFCS on the human body then it must not exist.  That’s a heck of an argument to make about the safety of your product isn’t?  “Oh, you didn’t know that Duke University research indicates HFCS leads to liver ailments similar to those suffered by long term alcoholics and that a Princeton study has found that subjects that consume HFCS show considerably more weight gain than those who consume an equal amount of table sugar?  Well, then it must not be true since you didn’t know about it.”

Since putting the big bucks into those ads meant to confuse the facts, the Corn Refiners Association has seen some disturbing results – for them anyway.  The public wasn’t fooled and food manufacturers are responding to the cry for foods without HFCS.  Hunt’s Ketchup is now the only major ketchup brand to not contain HFCS.  The Jones Soda Co., makers of premium carbonated soft drinks, does not use HFCS in any of their products.  Jones even has a list of links to the multitude of scientific research that debunks the claims of the HFCS manufactures that their product is safe and natural.

Dr. Pepper with sugarThen the big bomb was dropped this past summer.  Dr. Pepper, one of the most popular soft drinks in the US, announced in a July press release that to celebrate their 125th anniversary that they were replacing HFCS with sugar.  Other factors have lead to soft drink makers to move away from HFCS and back to sugar like proposed changes to SNAP program regulations that would prohibit food stamps from being used to purchase soft drinks.  This is long overdue.

With the failure of their Sweet Surprise campaign they have shifted gears but are still employing the same tactic of subversive disinformation.  Their first move, as reported by AP, is that they are changing the name of High Fructose Corn Syrup to Corn Sugar.  This clever ploy will allow products to claim they have no HFCS when in fact they do.

They have asked for an official name change from the FDA.   They even went and started a new web site www.cornsugar.com.  Too bad because the FDA already has an established definition for corn sugar and it is not the same as HFCS.  No doubt, having an inside man in the FDA (Obama-appointed, Monsanto-lobbyist Michael Taylor) will undoubtedly lead to a redefining of the phrase “corn sugar.”

The new commercials feature actors pretending to be concerned parents who are confused about the effects of HFCS.  They plug the disinformation web site and even pretend that the scientific information listed there is from independent sources rather studies paid for by the the Corn Refiners Association to produce favorable findings.

I would like to post one of those commercials here for you but for some reason the Corn Refiners Association doesn’t want these commercials being embedded on other sites.  That seems odd that you want your message getting out there and here someone is willing to put your commercial on their site for free and you refuse to let them.  Kind of leaves you wondering what they are hiding doesn’t?

If you want to view the new spot you can venture over to the youtube and check the HFCS Disinformation Ad out yourself and do what I did – vote it a thumbs down and then flag it for being a scam. Or don’t, suit yourself.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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