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Skepticism over NY proposal to ban HFCS

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 14-Apr-2010

A bill introduced by New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark proposing an outright ban on the use or sale of high fructose corn syrup in the state has raised eyebrows today, as it followed in the footsteps of a proposed salt ban.

If it were to become law, the bill would immediately place a ban on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the state of New York, but the likelihood of it passing into law is questionable – it is estimated that fewer than five percent of bills that are introduced actually become law.

 

The bill states: “By prohibiting the sale, storage, distribution, or use of food products made with HFCS, this bill will help to decrease the incidence of diseases related to HFCS consumption and will promote public health.”

 

The Center for Consumer Freedom has slammed the bill as a “marketing gimmick” and a result of the “New York nanny state”.

 

Senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom Justin Wilson told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “These things tend to come in threes: Banning salt, zoning restaurants out of existence and now banning high fructose corn syrup…I think they’re playing one-upmanship…Why are we wasting our time with legislators’ grandstanding? They have much more pressing issues.”

 

Wilson said that this bill is similar to the one introduced by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz in January that proposed a ban on salt.

 

He said: “When it comes to high fructose corn syrup or salt the idea of outright banning them is just so out of line with what New Yorkers want.”

 

In addition, he added that Clark’s bill includes errors about the health problems caused by high fructose corn syrup.

 

It says that HFCS has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance and liver disease. However, much of the research to which it refers examined the effects of fructose, rather than HFCS.

 

There are three different types of HFCS – one that is 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose (most commonly found in soft drinks), one that is 42 percent fructose and 58 percent glucose (usually used in food products), and one used for specialty applications that is 90 percent fructose and 10 percent glucose.

 

Industry members have repeatedly pointed out that the HFCS used in foods and beverages is not dissimilar in its makeup to sugar (sucrose), which contains 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.

 

Responding to the introduction of Clark’s bill, president of the Corn Refiners Association Audrae Erickson said: “There’s no reason to ban a form of sugar in the American diet that makes healthy foods like high fiber breads, yogurts, milks palatable.

 

“To take such an action would unnecessarily cause New York consumers’ food prices to skyrocket at a time when they can least afford it – and all for no nutritional benefit.”

 

No one from Assemblywoman Clark’s office returned a call requesting comment prior to publication.

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