Corn Refiners Association hired “trusted moms” to promote high-fructose corn syrup as “natural”
High-fructose corn syrup has been under siege lately and the Corn Refiners Association is desperate to do something about it. Companies have been advertising their products with the statement “high fructose corn syrup-free” and the CRA recently lobbied the FDA to allow a name change. In a desperate move that will only reflect badly on all parties involved, the Corn Refiners Association hired Mom Central and a few dozen mom bloggers to assist in rebuilding the tarnished name.
The campaign involved an article posted on the Mom Central website in defense of high fructose corn syrup in which it stated, “High fructose corn syrup, like sugar and honey, is natural and should be enjoyed in moderation.” The bloggers were paid in gift certificates to participate in a one-hour CRA webinar and post the information on their respective blogs. When the information was posted and the comments ensued, truth came out about the campaign. The “trusted moms” were really just talking heads for the CRA.
One mom blogger stated:
The professional speakers used a lot of technical scientific terms and words that rather confused me, but ultimately the important message I learned from them is that there is no significant difference between HFCS and table sugar.
Going through the various blog posts, it is apparent the focus of the webinar was merely on the glucose/fructose composition of HFCS without addressing the way in which it is made. HFCS is made from GMO corn refined with sodium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid, yet the CRA is having moms believe it is just as natural as honey.
This disinformation is clear when one of the moms who blogged in defense if HFCS, stated in her comments:
I agree there is too much sugar in our foods. That is why I do my best to eat organic and have my own organic garden. When I can/freeze I know exactly what is in my food Good idea!
Contrary to what the CRA wants us to believe, high-fructose corn syrup is on the opposite end of the organic spectrum. They may call it natural, but natural means nothing anymore. This is not to point fingers, but to expose the disinformation around health issues in this country. This is about education and integrity.
How have corporations duped moms who eat organic and have organic gardens into defending the most chemically-processed sweetener out there? A few gift certificates, is it really that easy?
When I originally saw this last week and did my post I had no idea the attention it would bring, however I’m so glad to see that it’s not just me. There’s other moms out there who have the same problem with it that I do. And thankful to MOm 101 for using her voice, a voice of real reason and tact.
And yeah it’s that easy. But Mom Central has done this all before getting i trouble with the FTC for the Mirena blog tours. Yeah as in the IUD. It’s great that Mom Central is only out to make money, great, wonderful, but it’s good to know. Hopefully the moms who jump on her bandwagon realize this too.
Interest groups should not be within mom blogs. Period!
Kristin, thanks for your comment. High-fructose corn syrup is a hot topic and I’m sure this is going to get bigger.
I could tell what Mom Central was all about when I went to their sponsor page. Just the fact that they have a separate group called Mom Central Consulting will tell you what they are about.
It was an interesting foray into the world of mom blogs as I had minimal exposure to them before. I can see why corporations want to exploit this sector.
Kudos to Mom-101 for bringing this to light.
Thanks Matt. You articulated a lot of my issues way better than I could. Aside from the nutritional problems, I also believe HFCS and the corn lobby overall present major environmental and ecological challenges for us.
Maybe if we’re lucky, a lot of people will come out of this better informed. Me included.
I find the CRA’s strategy to use mombloggers to sell HFCS deplorable and desperate.
Here are moms at home with teething and toilet training who have joined the website
club to garner support, advice, and humor from other moms. And then the CRA
invites them to a webinar with a star studded corporate cast telling them HFCS is
“just sugar”. They receive their small gift, faithfully they go home and blog as they have been asked. Unfortunately, many of these moms have been pounced on by other bloggers. These moms are angry and rightfully so. I have a google alert for every variation of HFCS, and already have hit some of these blogs, where the mom has been scorned by some anti-HFCS activist. Now, I am working hard to get HFCS out of our food supply, but I would never try and attack a mom, whose blog features the CRA’s logo, personally. I would urge other anti-HFCS activists to be sympathetic.
Cynthia Papierniak, M.S.
I agree with you that CRA’s strategy is deplorable and desperate. This was not to attack the moms who participated, but to expose how easy it is to have our minds manipulated by money and marketing. These moms were not victims of the CRA, it was their choice to participate and disseminate this information. Being a blogger comes with responsibility, especially when dealing with health topics.
Agreed. I have fallen victim to slick marketing, too.
Now, here’s my take on HFCS.
It’s not HFCS but HFCSs.
ADM’s website claims they make three grades of HFCS for direct human consumption.
Cornsweet 55, used for soda
Cornsweet 90, intensely sweet used for low-cal foods.
The numbers reflect the % fructose.
42%–>90% fructose. That’s quite a range. Sucrose can only be 50% fructose. Audrae Erickson, president of the CRA, has madethe claim that HFCS has about the same amount of fructose as other sweeteners. I find this patently deceptive.
HFCS is a black box. Is it HFCS-42, 55, 90, or something in betsween?
The CRA can monkey with the fructose:glucose ratio anyway they or their food
manufacturers desire. Why? Because the sweetener will always ring in at 4 cal/g, and the
fru:glu will never affect the nutrional breakdown on the back of the package.
Not only should the name HFCS remain, but the FDA should require the food manufacturers to list the grade, e.g. HFCS-F90.
“Natural” is such a loaded term. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more mention of the studies done last year that showed traces of mercury in products with high fructose corn syrup. More here: http://food.whistleblower.org/blog/102
Sarah, thanks for bringing up that point. I thought of including references to the mercury in this article, but figured the HFCS industry had probably rectified this problem. Mercury is the most toxic substance in existence, and there is no excuse for it being in a our food in any amount. It would be good for a follow up study to be done to see if mercury can still be found in HFCS.