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Published April 25, 2014, 10:28 AM

First lady causes stir over high fructose corn syrup

The White House Easter Egg Roll used to be one of the simplest, crowd-pleasing occasions at the White House, but this year’s event was marked by First Lady Michelle Obama’s decision to wade into the controversy over high fructose corn syrup.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek

WASHINGTON — The White House Easter Egg Roll used to be one of the simplest, crowd-pleasing occasions at the White House, but this year’s event was marked by First Lady Michelle Obama’s decision to wade into the controversy over high fructose corn syrup.

As part of her Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity the first lady participated in a 14 minute cooking demonstration of healthy recipes with Marc Murphy, a judge on Food Network’s hit show “Chopped.”

When the first lady arrived at a raised platform labeled the Kids’ Kitchen, she joined Murphy and the cast of the Disney tween comedy “Jessie,” which chronicles the life of an affluent New York City family.

As “Jessie” actors Karan Brar, 15, and Skai Jackson, 12, stepped to the stage to help Murphy make a fruit salad of blueberries, mango, raspberries and blackberries, the chef noted that Jackson had said she likes honey mixed with the fruit.

“You told me the best part is the honey,” Murphy said. “Let’s drizzle a little honey in there … Honey is a great way to sweeten things, it is sort of a natural sweetener.”

“Why is honey better than sugar?” the first lady asked.

“Our bodies can deal with honey,” Murphy said. “The high-fructose corn syrup is a little harder to … I don’t think our bodies know what do with that yet.”

“Did you hear that?” the first lady replied. “Our bodies don’t know what to do with high-fructose corn syrup. So we don’t need it.”

The next day, the Corn Refiners Association, which represents the makers of high-fructose corn syrup, said today that the first lady was misinformed.

“We applaud First Lady Michelle Obama’s commendable work to educate the public about nutrition and healthy diets,” said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “It is most unfortunate that she was misinformed about how the body processes caloric sweeteners, including high-fructose corn syrup.

“Years of scientific research have shown that the body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup similarly to table sugar and honey,” said Bode. “Moderation and the right caloric balance are key to a healthy lifestyle.”

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