You can find out if high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is in a food or beverage by checking the ingredients on the label. But sometimes there is no label, as with restaurant foods, and sometimes HCFS is present in a product that you would never have thought to check.
The actual amount of high fructose corn syrup in a food can vary widely. Foods that are not particularly sweet contain less of it than desserts and candy. Manufacturers list ingredients in descending order according to the relative amount of the ingredient. If HFCS is at the beginning of a short list, you can be sure that the food is chock-full of it. If it’s farther back on the list, the amount may be small.
This list is far from comprehensive. It is meant to give the reader an idea of which foods to mentally flag as possible sources of high fructose corn syrup.
- Candy bars
- Ice cream
- Frozen treats (although Popsicle brand makes varieties that are naturally sweetened)
- Pastries and cakes
- Granola bars, cereal bars, etc.
- All types of flavored syrup
- Jams, jellies, and preserves
- Virtually all sodas, including some “specialty” and “gourmet” sodas
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
- Children’s single serve juice drinks, unless labeled 100% juice
- Many varieties of concentrated frozen “juice”
- Fruit punch
- Most bottled iced tea
- Chocolate milk
- Breakfast cereals, including some “non-sweet” flavors, and even some marketed as “healthy”
- Frozen waffles
- Toaster pastries
- Maple-flavored syrup
- Yogurt (certain varieties)
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Whole wheat bread (certain brands; also most white bread)
Surprise! Unexpected Sources
High fructose corn syrup in salad dressing? In medication? If you read labels carefully, you will find that — and more. Here are a few unexpected sources of HFCS:
- Most salad dressings
- Liquid cough syrup, cold medicine, etc.
- Baked beans
- Pickles (certain varieties)
- Barbecue sauce
- Many other types of savory bottled sauces
- Tomato paste, tomato sauce, and canned tomatoes (certain brands)
- Canned soup (certain varieties)
- Ketchup and some other condiments
Many fast food restaurants put high fructose corn syrup into ingredients where consumers might not expect to find it. Consumers will usually need to check the company website to find ingredients lists. Besides the usual suspects (soda, desserts, etc.), here are a few of the stranger fast food ingredients with high fructose corn syrup:
- Arby’s Honey Wheat Bread (no, it’s not sweetened with just honey)
- Blimpie Mustard Potato Salad
- Burger King Croissan’which croissant
- Chick-Fil-A Southwest Chargrilled Salad
- Jack in the Box Sourdough Bread
- McDonald’s buns
- Pizza Hut Breadsticks (and some of their crusts)
- Subway Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Strips
- “Foods and Products Containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)” from Accidental Hedonist
- Fast Foods with HCFS from Fast Food Facts
This post is part of the series: High Fructose Corn Syrup - The Dangers of HFCS & Foods that Contain It
High fructose corn syrup (aka HFCS, glucose-fructose and isoglucose) has been replacing sugar in several processed foods across the nation. Unfortunately, there are dangers of high fructose corn syrup. Learn what some of these dangers are and which foods contain HFCS in this article series.