New York Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens) has introduced legislation, bill No. A10574, that would ban the sale of products containing high fructose corn syrup in restaurants and retail stores and forbid its use in the preparation of any food product sold or served in restaurants. If passed, the law would take effect immediately throughout the state. Violators could face a $2,000 fine or even a misdemeanor criminal charge.
Looks like someone bit too hard into a marketing gimmick and took it way, way off the deep end. It’s hard to tell which proposal is crazier—this, or the statewide salt ban proposed by another Assemblyman.
Why is this proposal so full of gooey thinking? Because high fructose corn syrup is simply a kind of sugar made from corn instead of beet or cane, like table sugar is. Corn sugar shares a nearly identical composition with table sugar. And both have the same number of calories.
It’s not rocket science. Sugar is sugar.
Even demonization maestro Michael Jacobson called out the high-fructose hype, telling USA Today last month that “there isn't a shred of evidence that high-fructose corn syrup is nutritionally any different from sugar.” No less than the originator of the theory that high fructose corn syrup was linked to obesity, University of North Carolina professor Barry Popkin, has done an about-face. Another food cop, noted New York University professor Marion Nestle, also agrees that high fructose corn syrup is “basically no different from table sugar.”
It’s hard to see what this ban would accomplish, besides creating an unnecessary stigma in the minds of New Yorkers. But it does show what’s wrong with the New York nanny state. “Public health” now means a paternalistic invasion of personal food choices. It comes in the form of bake sale bans, taxes on soft drinks, salt bans in restaurants, restaurant zoning bans, and now a ban on one kind of sugar.
What next? Maybe New York food dictators should just hurry up and get to the point by banning anything with sugar, salt, or fat. It’s a rather unpalatable idea.