Posts Tagged ‘high fructose corn syrup’

News Snippets

October 25, 2011

This time around: burger restaurants show great growth during the recession, while other restaurants are cutting down on the use of high fructose corn syrup.


Limited-Service Burger Restaurants Show Growth


Fast-casual is the way to go – at least, that’s the belief of many limited-service burger operators. The belief is firmly grounded in reality, too: The top 75 limited-service burger changes boasted a 1.6 sales growth last year that reached $65 billion.


The top 10 fastest-growing restaurants showed amazing growth, from Fatburger’s “low” 13.9% unit change, to Shake Shack’s 133.3%(!) unit change.


The burger segment is showing great growth, even though its rate of expansion has been slowing. The study was put together by industry research firm Technomic, and is available at the following link:


Restaurants Bucking High Fructose Corn Syrup


There has been controversy in health-conscious circles for years over high fructose corn syrup. Found in everything from candy to soda to common food items, the syrup has been blamed from everything from the United States’ obesity epidemic, to diabetes, to just about any weight-based health concern you can name!


Big-name companies like Pepsi, Sara Lee, Kraft, Heinz, Hunt’s, and even Gatorade have opted for sugar over high fructose corn syrup in many of their product lines. Many restaurant operators are beginning to follow suit.


Take for example Fairmont Hotel’s Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson in Seattle. He decided to remove both regular and high fructose corn syrup from his menus shortly after getting rid of trans fats.  He feels responsible for each of the 400,000 yearly meals he oversees, stating: “I can’t change what people eat every day, but I can make a difference to those people who eat here.”


He makes a good argument about how to fight obesity. Since our eating habits haven’t changed, he says, maybe we should do something about what’s in the food we eat instead. He claims that more natural sweeteners are best, stating that “Our great grandparents had no problem” with staples such as sugar, honey, and butter. He recently installed beehives on the Fairmont’s roof so that he would have an endless supply of “clean” sweetener. If that’s not walking the walk, we don’t know what is!

Is Sugar a Toxin?

May 19, 2011

Bad news has come out for anyone running a sweets shop. A lecture which has been made available on YouTube and which was recently written in the New York Times makes the shocking claim that sugar isn’t just something that will make you fat, but it could also very well be a toxic substance.

Robert Lustig, a specialist in pediatric disorders and a researcher at the University of California – San Francisco gave the lecture and it has, as of this writing, attracted nearly a million views. He refers to sugar as a toxic substance and as a poison throughout the lecture. Interestingly, Lustig doesn’t just take aim at standard table sugar either. He also places things like high fructose corn syrup, which is often used as a replacement for standard table sugar since it’s cheaper and sweeter, in the same boat as standard sugar. He refers to both substances as “the most demonized additive known to man.”

Lustin asserts that the prevalence of sugar in our general diets is the primary reason that childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States today. He asserts however that the problem isn’t just the empty calories that sugar offers, but the substance itself, which he says is actually a form of poison.

The debate is certainly not a new one – high fructose corn syrup was considered a modern day miracle to replace standard sugar when the original substance was vilified as being a noxious substance back in the 1970s. Today of course, things have come full circle and sugar is considered to be the safe substance while high fructose corn syrup is “processed junk food.” The reality by the way is that white table sugar is actually also heavily processed, though no one ever said the American consumer was concerned with facts. Sound bites, which this speech, vilifying sugar and high fructose corn syrup, offers in abundance, will do just fine, thank-you-very-much. For now, it’s a mild protest movement; however, those running restaurants devoted to sweet foods may want to consider offering healthier alternatives just in case the public begins to turn against both of their favorite sweet substances.

High Fructose Corn Syrups’ Bad Rap

October 22, 2010

High fructose corn syrup has gotten a really bad rap as of late. More and more companies are busily switching their recipes and offering customers “real cane sugar” instead of the high fructose corn syrup.

However, a movement is now afoot to try to reverse this trend and to explain to customers that all kinds of sugars, regardless of source can be bad for them in quantity.

Corn Sugar Instead of Corn Syrup

For the time being though, the whole backlash against high fructose corn syrup has gotten so bad that some producers of the stuff have been calling for a relabeling of their products. They want to refer to it as “corn sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup.

This reminds us of Passover Sweet and Low packets. The next time you’re in a Jewish neighborhood in the spring, see if you can spot some Passover Sweet and Low and take a glance at the ingredients. They are: nutritive sucrose, sodium saccharin. In other words, plain, ordinary table sugar together with the usual artificial sweetner.

Why is it labeled this way you ask? Because maltodextrin, which is ordinarily used to provide bulk to sodium saccharin, is not kosher for Passover. The plan by some producers of corn syrup to re-label their product strikes us as being much the same.

Why it Matters to You

Now you may be wondering what a discussion of the woes of the high fructose corn syrup industry is doing in a blog about the restaurant industry. The answer is quite simple.

As restaurateurs, we need to keep a constant “ear to the ground” to try and find out what it is our customers will want to eat so that we can make sure that our menus reflect this appropriately. You may find more and more customers asking you if you use high fructose corn syrup in your food, on the theory that it’s somehow less healthy for them.

Plain Sugar or Honey

For now, you can easily counter by using plain table sugar for any dishes that call for sugar instead. However, if those who are pushing to get the idea of all kinds of sugars labeled as “bad” (which, let’s face it, they are), you may be able to substitute things like honey or molasses in some recipe in order to stay ahead of the “hip” curve. However, this effort can keep your high value customers coming in and enjoying fine dining in your establishment.