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Researchers:Traces Of Corn Found In Nearly All Fast Foods

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Sunday, November 16, 2008 8:05 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Food Safety, Diet & Nutrition, Fast Food, Corn Syrup, Obesity

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IMAGE SOURCE:© Wikimedia Commons / McDonalds french fries / Kic

Researchers have found traces of corn in food items from Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s fast food.

“More than just a grain used in the production of fast foods, corn is the very foundation of all fast foods,” says A. Hope Jahren, a professor of geography and geophysics at the University of Hawaii.

A team of researchers examined 500 fast food samples of chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and French fries from fast-food restaurants in six cities including Boston and San Francisco to establish the connection of corn with fast food.

The food samples were collected over two years, freeze dried and sent to a lab for analysis.

“Out of the hundreds of samples collected, there were only 12 servings that were not linked straight back to a corn source, Jahren said.

A technique that identifies carbon and nitrogen isotopes in meat was used by researchers to try and determine the animals’ diets and conditions in which they were raised. Based on high levels of carbon and nitrogen found in the meat, researchers suggest the cows were predominantly fed a diet of corn, which makes them very fat in a very short span of time.

Carbon in corn has a specific isotopic signature. When livestock consumes a corn-based diet, that signature is left behind in the animals' tissue. Similarly, the nitrogen-based fertilizer used to grow that corn also leaves a telltale trail in nitrogen's isotopic ratio.

For some, the study findings may not be all that surprising considering corn and its byproducts – including high-fructose corn syrup, which has been the center of much controversy – are basic staples of the American diet. Still though, “the heavy usage of corn in the United States food supply has been linked with obesity related to availability of cheap, low-nutrient foods,” said Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist in New York City.

Wendy’s uses only corn oil to make its French fries, although the company claims its fries contain a number of different oils, including soy and cottonseed. And Burger King and McDonald’s fries depend on other kinds of vegetable oils.

The study provides insight about the origins of the food that people eat, said Sass.

“More and more consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it is grown. Consumers are beginning to think about the traceability of food and see the big picture of food production, specifically the impact it has on our health, the health of our kids and our environment.”

The authors of the study are planning to start a new one as to analyze the fast food and discover how corn is used in its production.

Americans spend an estimated $100 billion or more a year on fast food.

The study findings are published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. #


1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Audrae Erickson
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:12 AM EST

High fructose corn syrup, sugar, and several fruit juices are all nutritionally the same.

High fructose corn syrup has the same number of calories as sugar and is handled similarly by the body.

The American Medical Association in June 2008 helped put to rest misunderstandings about this sweetener and obesity, stating that “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”

Consumers can see the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup at LINK and LINK

Audrae Erickson
President
Corn Refiners Association

Comments for this article are closed.

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