high fructose corn syrup

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.

Sara Lee’s (Not-so) Heart Healthy Bread

As America continues it’s struggles with obesity more and more people are looking for healthy alternatives in their diets.  Folks are monitoring their caloric intake, their carbs and fats too.  One of the places that many are trying to “health out” is in the bakery.  As a nation we are finally learning the benefits of whole grains.

According to the good folks at the Mayo Clinic:

All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates, various vitamins and minerals, and are naturally low in fat. But grains that haven’t been refined — called whole grains — are even better for you. Whole grains are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium. So whenever you can, choose whole grains over refined grains.

The nation’s major bakers have responded with a plethora of healthy bread alternatives including whole grains, fewer chemicals and more organic ingredients.  Nature’s Own, Arnold’s and Nature’s Pride all are companies specializing in bread that is better for you.  Some of the larger baking companies like Wonder, Bunny and Sunbeam have tried to provide healthier if not actually healthy alternatives to their established products.

Then there’s Sara Lee.  Most have grown up thinking of Sara Lee as high quality, wholesome foods but that may not be the case.  First off, Sara Lee is not a bakery or a food service company.  To quote their own website, “At Sara Lee Corporation, our business is brands.”  Brands?  It isn’t food?  Hmm.

If memory serves, isn’t Sara Lee the only bread company, sorry brand company, to ever have to recall it’s bread because of metal shavings?  But that was just an accident and accidents happen right?  It wasn’t an accident.  Accidents are unpreventable.  Mistakes, however, are born from ineptitude and that was one doozy of a mistake.

(Not so) Heart Healthy by Sara LeeLet’s take a look at Sara Lee Heart Healthy Plus 100% Whole Wheat Bread and compare it to another popular healthy bread the 100% Whole Wheat from Nature’s Own.  According to the nutritional label on Sara Lee’s Whole Wheat each slice contains 80 calories (10 from fat), 1 gram of fat (0 grams of saturated fat but there is no listing of trans fat), 135 mg of sodium, 14 grams of total carbs (4 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar) and 4 grams of protein.

That’s not bad but compare it to the Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat bread which contains 50 calories (10 from fat), 1 gram of fat (0 saturated fats, 0 trans fats), 115 mg of sodium, 10 grams of total carbs (2 grams dietary fiber and 1 gram of sugar) and 4 grams of protein. That’s even better.

Still compared to normal bread the Sara Lee is pretty good right?  Maybe not.  You see for years Sara Lee bread has been made with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and hydrogenated oils.  It seems everyday there are new findings about the ill effects of HFCS which has proven to be far worse for your body than even table sugar including increased occurrence of pancreatic cancer which leads to diabetes and heart disease.  It also wreaks havoc on the liver.

Hydrogenated oils are the very trans fats that you keep hearing about.  Trans fats, studies have shown, greatly increase your chances of heart disease and stroke by elevating the LDL (bad cholesterol) while lowering HDL (good cholesterol) .  But wait, the name of the Sara Lee bread is “Heart Healthy.”

You see nothing is healthy if it contains HFCS or hydrogenated oils.  The body simply cannot process them.  It doesn’t matter how little of each is in the food because no amount is tolerable.  Despite what the hucksters at Sweet Surprise fraudulently assert in their clever commercials, high fructose corn syrup has been proven to be more harmful to you than standard sugar.

Even Sara Lee knows this and that is why on August 16th they sent out a press release announcing their transition from HFCS to safer ingredients in their Sara Lee Soft & Smooth line.  The release said nothing about eliminating it from the Heart Healthy products.  So when you are out shopping and you see those loaves of Sara Lee grab one and check to see if it’s one of the new formula breads.

However, Sara Lee has yet to say anything about eliminating hydrogenated oils from their allegedly healthy breads saying in another document that they admit that hydrogenated oils are trans fats and that trans fats are unhealthy.  The most they have committed to is trying to decrease the amount of hydrogenated oils they use.

The moral of this story is don’t trust the label on the front; scrutinize the one on the back.

High-fructose corn syrup kills

Review: Burger King Ribs

I was, to put it mildly, apprehensive when I saw a commercial for Burger King’s new “Fire Grilled Ribs.”  I have survived the McRib, Hardee’s Fried Chicken, Popeye’s Chicken Pita, KFC’s Double Down, Taco Bell’s BLT Taco and the results of the “King’s” other atrocities from the Kitchen of Dr. Moreau, Chicken Fries and those infamous BK Tacos (a kid burger inside a half-cooked taco shell).

Burger King Ribs on WannabeTVchef.comLast week, whilst in the throws of moving from my apartment to my new house, I decided I would give the BK Ribs a try.  I was hungry so I opted for the 8 piece combo over the 6 piece.  With tax I dropped $10 and with the service I also lost 30 minutes of my life waiting for the only other person in the drive-thru to get their Whopper Jr. combo meal.

Now clearly I was not expecting pork ribs to be healthy.  It’s called a splurge.  So once I was able to track down the carefully hidden nutritional information I was not surprised by the 12g of saturated fat (6 piece portion) nor the 66% of calories from fat.

Jack Links Steak Bites on WannabeTVchef.comHowever, I was surprised to find that though they looked a good deal like pork ribs they did not taste like pork ribs.  The texture was quite off-putting.  It was somewhere between a dry rib and those beef jerky steak bites.  They were gnaw off the bone tender.  They certainly were not smoked but rather roasted with a touch of liquid smoke and brown sugar but no detectable spices or rub.  They come dry (which has two different meanings in the case) with BBQ sauce dipping cups on the side.  Use as much sauce as possible as it is the only thing that makes these palatable.

It isn’t bad enough that these fast food ribs taste like, well fast food ribs, but they cost as much a REAL ribs.  I live in Alabama, there is no shortage of great barbecue and if I am going to plop down $10 for ribs I want great ribs.  But what should I expect from a company that professes to let you “have it your way” but that has never been the case.

I once walked into a Burger King and ordered a Whopper made my way, “Fresh ground grass-fed beef, a whole wheat bun free of High Fructose Corn Syrup and hydrogenated oil, vegetables that were allowed to fully ripen on the vine at a farm within 150 miles and REAL cheddar cheese.”  They looked at me like I had asked them to fix me something that wasn’t poisonous.

Have your tried BK Ribs?  Culinary revolution or porcine abomination?  Use the comments below to tell the world what you thought of them.

Burger King Ribs

Stop the Light Mayo Lie!

Light Mayo vs. Real.

For years people have tried to convince us that light mayonnaise tastes as good as regular mayo and it’s healthier to boot.  Stop it.  Just stop it.  Not only does it not taste like regular mayo, but it doesn’t really taste good at all.  Light mayo is bad and fat free mayo is disastrously nasty.  No amount of advertising and brainwashing will ever change that.

I think everyone knows this.  Sure some people may say they can’t tell the difference but they are lying to us and themselves.  Light mayo is palatable at best.  Fat free mayo tastes like really old sneakers that have been dipped in Sasquatch sweat then slathered with crude oil from the Gulf.  I’d like to tell you how I know this but some of the details from that weekend are still a little fuzzy.

Dukes Light MayoBut the healthy claim, where does that stand?  As it turns out light mayo tastes better than it is healthy.  Common ingredients in the average light mayonnaise include xanthan gum (a sugar-like compound), yellow #5 (increases levels of hyperactivity in children), modified corn/food starch (can cause constipation) and one of the most dangerous chemicals on earth High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

Kraft Light MayoThe body cannot metabolize HFCS so it stores it as fat cells in the liver.  As a result, people with a steady intake of HFCS have liver ailments most often associated with alcoholics and there is also evidence that HFCS plays havoc with the pancreas leading to Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer.  HFCS, despite what those cute but scientifically unfounded commercials tell us, is the major contributor to our obesity epidemic as HFCS causes significantly more fatty tissue growth as an equal amount of calories from table sugar.

The Corn Refiners Association sponsors those misleading TV commercials.  They also maintain a website that is chock full of contrived scientific studies.  I have even been flamed by packs of paid lobbyists on Twitter for expressing my distaste for their lethal product.  That’s right, they actually pay people to go on Twitter and promote their product, not unlike a drug dealer on a play ground.

Winn Dixie light mayoWhat I struggle with is why people think that mayo, real mayo, is so unhealthy.  Sure a 1 tablespoon serving has 10 grams of fat but only saturated fat is bad for you and it only has 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  Unsaturated fat is good for you especially when it contains Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in olive oil and canola oil.  And here’s another secret, most people use less than that on a sandwich.

I know all 90 calories in that tablespoon serving are from fats.  Though percent-calories-from-fat is a very logical theory it is still just a theory.  And when applying it to practice you should really only concern yourself with the percent-calories-from-fat of the meal as a whole.  Regardless of fat and caloric content nothing containing HFCS can ever be considered healthy.

Hellmann's Canola Mayo from amazon.comBut if you are still concerned about the fat, Hellmann’s makes a real mayonnaise with canola oil that has half the fat and half the calories of regular mayo and no cholesterol.  That’s comparable to those HFCS tainted light mayos but the canola mayo tastes just like the real thing because it is the real thing.  They just use a healthier oil.  It’s the best of both worlds.

Not healthy enough for you?  Consider using plain Greek yogurt instead.  It’s very healthy and tastes a lot better than light or fat free mayo.  And don’t even get me started on Miracle Whip.  Not only is that crap not an acceptable substitute for mayonnaise but it isn’t really even food.


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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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