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From the Townsend Letter
May 2009

Agave Nectar, the High-Fructose Health Food Fraud
by Rami Nagel

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Here is an incredible article by Ramiel Nagel. Remi has done an enormous service to us all via his deep research in the field of nutrition. Much of his work is revealed in a great book, Cure Tooth Decay, which, contrary to the prevailing self-serving dogma, teaches you how to heal and prevent cavities with organic foods. Following on the heels of this book is Healing Our Children. His websites are a veritable gold mine of info. One can even read a chapter from his books there.

This post not only discusses high-fructose sugar but touches on all sweeteners and is a must-read by all. Exposed, yet again, are the smoke and mirrors shenanigans of food marketing, especially organic foods.

 As I always stress knowing the source of one's food is paramount. Regarding his comment on honey, try to buy from a local beekeeper whom you know. This goes for produce, etc., where and when possible. – Chris Gupta, Share the Wealth news blog

Agave nectar is advertised as a "diabetic-friendly," raw, and a "100% natural sweetener." Yet it is none of these.

The purpose of this article is to show you that agave nectar is in reality not a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated than the high-fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a 'natural' sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product, but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined sweetener.

Agave nectar is found on the shelves of health food stores primarily under the labels "Agave Nectar 100% Natural Sweetener" and "Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar."1,2 In addition, it can be found in foods labeled as organic or raw, including: ketchup, ice-cream, chocolate, and health food bars.

The implication of its name, the pictures and descriptions on the product labels, is that agave is an unrefined sweetener that has been used for thousands of years by native people in central Mexico. Botanically, agave plants are in the lily order Liliales and the order Asparagales (depending on which botanical taxonomic system you use), both of which define agave as a flowering plant. For "thousands of years natives to central Mexico used different species of agave plants for medicine, as well as for building shelter," so claims the fanciful pedigree of this plant. Natives would also allow the sweet sap/liquid of the agave to ferment naturally, which created a mildly alcoholic beverage with a very pungent flavor known as pulque. They also made a traditional sweetener from the agave sap/juice (miel de agave) by simply boiling it for several hours. But, as one agave seller explains, the agave nectar purchased in stores is neither of these traditional foods: "Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990s."3

What is Agave Nectar?
The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice. The process in which the agave starch is converted into refined fructose and then sold as the sweetener agave nectar is through an enzymatic and chemical conversion that refines, clarifies, heats, chemically alters, centrifuges, and filters the nonsweet starch into a highly refined sweetener, fructose. Here, a distinction must be made. Fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as "levulose." There are some chemical similarities between fructose (man-made) and levulose (made by nature), and so the synthetically refined sugar fructose was labeled in a way to make one believe it comes from fruit. Levulose is not fructose, even though people will claim it is. Russ Bianchi is managing director and CEO of Adept Solutions Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company. He explains:

"If fructose were natural, I would be able to go out to corn field and get a bucket of sweetener. I can go to a beehive and get honey that I can eat without processing it. I can go to an apple tree and pick an apple and eat it. I cannot go out into a cornfield, squeeze corn, and get fructose syrup, and I cannot go into an agave field, and get the product sold on retail shelves, as agave nectar. Falsely labeled agave fructose and high-fructose corn syrup are both products of advanced chemistry and extensive food processing technology."4 Mr. Bianchi has an insider's view of the health-food industry and the food-creation industry, having worked in both for decades.

Take water for example. We all know that the chemical formula for water is H2O: two hydrogens and one oxygen. The opposite would be O2H, which is nothing close to water. Likewise, man-made fructose would have to have the chemical formula changed for it to be levulose, so it is not levulose. Saying fructose is levulose is like saying that margarine is butter. Refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn't recognize refined fructose. Levulose, on the other hand, is naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine.5 Levulose is digested in the intestine. Refined fructose robs the body of many micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring fruit sugars contain levulose bound to other sugars, high-fructose corn syrup contains "free" (unbound), chemically refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart's use of key minerals like magnesium, copper, and chromium.6

The reason why refined fructose is used so commonly as a sweetener is simple: it's extremely cheap in cost.

Agave nectar, as a final product, is mostly chemically refined fructose, anywhere from 70% and higher, according to the chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. The refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup. For comparison, the high-fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55% refined fructose. High-fructose corn syrup is made with genetically modified enzymes. Is agave syrup (refined fructose) made the same way?

"They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high-fructose corn syrup", says Mr. Bianchi. Inulin is a chain of chemically refined fibers and sugars linked together, and, this bears repeating, high-fructose inulin has more concentrated sugar than high-fructose corn syrup!

In a confidential FDA letter, Dr. Martin Stutsman (from the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Labeling Enforcement) explains the FDA's food labeling laws related to agave nectar: "Corn syrup treated with enzymes to enhance the fructose levels is to be labeled 'High Fructose Corn Syrup.'" According to Dr. Stutsman, agave, whose main carbohydrate is starch, requires the label "hydrolyzed inulin syrup." Even though, like corn, agave is a starch processed with enzymes, it does not require the label "high-fructose agave syrup" because the resulting refined fructose sweetener is so sweet that it is chemically closer to inulin.

From this point forward, agave nectar will be referred to by a more accurate name: agave syrup. This name is also legally uncomplicated and nondeceptive, per US Federal labeling laws, even though the true name would be hydrolyzed high-fructose inulin syrup. "The product called 'agave nectar' is really chemically refined hydrolyzed high fructose, which is intentionally mislabeled to deceive consumers," states Mr. Bianchi.

In a stunning report released in October 2008, the US government's own accountability office reported that of the thousands of food products imported into the US each year from 150 countries, just 96 total food items were inspected by the FDA to insure label accuracy and food safety.7 The FDA doesn't usually protect consumers regarding food safety or food labeling, nor does it usually take action against many misleading labels. This was seen with the processed infant formula scandal from China, where infant milk powder was tainted with toxic melamine.

High-Fructose Agave's Dubious History
In 2000, with warrants in hand, federal agents from the Office of Criminal Investigations of the FDA came banging on the door of North America's largest agave nectar distributor, Western Commerce Corporation in California. In an extremely rare case of the FDA's protecting consumer interests (rather than supporting big business, while shutting down legitimate and health-consciousness competition), they discovered that Western Commerce Corporation was adulterating their agave syrup with high-fructose corn syrup (to lower the cost even more and increase profit margins). While the federal agents confiscated the material in the warehouse, the owners of Western Commerce Corporation were nowhere to be found. Those who ran the company fled the country with millions of dollars in assets to avoid criminal prosecution.

This adulterated agave syrup (refined fructose) was also labeled "certified organic" to fool consumers into thinking they were getting a pure product.8 This shows you how unverified organic labels were used in the USA, and continue being used even now.

Today, high-fructose agave syrup is made primarily by two companies, Nekulti, and IIDEA. Yet a third agave marketer, by the name of Volcanic, has a suspicious claim on their website. "If your agave comes from one of the other two companies in Mexico, something has been added."9  They are referring to Nekulti and IIDEA. Their claim is based upon an analysis, which claims that their agave nectar has a lower refined fructose level.

Blue Agave Nectar is Not a Safe Sweetener
When the Spaniards came to the New World, around 1535, they brought with them a desire for brandy. When their supplies ran out, they had to find a new alcoholic beverage to replace their lost brandy. The Spaniards found that by distilling the juice of the plant now known as the blue agave plant, they could produce a potent alcoholic beverage, which over time has evolved into what we now call tequila. In order to produce a sweetener from the blue agave plant, the entire pineapplelike, giant root bulb of the plant is removed from the earth. It is then dried and juiced, making an agave starch juice. This in no way resembles any form of traditional use of the blue agave plant. While great for distilling tequila, the blue agave plant, when transformed through a chemical process into refined fructose, may contain many properties that make it dangerous and toxic for regular human consumption.

"Yucca species, together with other agaves, are known to contain large quantities of saponins," according to Tyler's Honest Herbal. Saponins in many varieties of agave plants are toxic steroid derivatives, as well as purgatives, and are to be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding because they might cause or contribute to miscarriage. These toxins have adverse effects on nonpregnant people and many health-compromised consumer categories as well. They are known to contribute to internal hemorrhaging by destroying red blood cells, and they may gravely negatively harm people taking statin and high blood pressure drugs. Agave may also stimulate blood flow in the uterus.10 Other first hand reports indicate agave may promote sterility in women. Since the agaves used for agave syrup are not being used in their traditional way, there should be a warning label on the sweetener packages that the product may promote miscarriage, through weakening the uterine lining.

What's Wrong With Fructose?
Once eaten, refined fructose appears as triglycerides in the blood stream, or as stored body fat. Elevated triglyceride levels, caused by consumption of refined fructose, are building blocks for hardening human arteries. Metabolic studies have proven the relationship between refined fructose and obesity.11 Because fructose is not converted to blood glucose, refined fructose doesn't raise nor crash human blood glucose levels — hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics. Supposedly, refined fructose has a low glycemic index and won't affect your blood sugar negatively. But the food labels are deceptive. Refined fructose is not really safe for diabetics. "High fructose from agave or corn will kill a diabetic or hypoglycemic much faster than refined white sugar," says Mr. Bianchi. "By eating high-fructose syrups, you are clogging the veins, creating inflammation, and increasing body fat, while stressing your heart. This is in part because refined fructose is foreign to the body, and is not recognized by it."

The average person consumes about 98 pounds of highly refined corn fructose per year in the USA; that roughly translates into half a cup of refined fructose per day. In an average supermarket, at least 2/3 of all items contain some form of highly refined fructose, because it is one of the cheapest ingredients and fillers for foods, next to water, air, and salt. In health-food stores, some foods contain a sweetener called crystalline fructose or other sweeteners labeled as fructose. Essentially, these are all refined corn fructose, labeled in a way to trick people that it is something more natural.

Mr. Bianchi concludes: "The simple answer tends to be the correct one. There is no land of milk and agave. Milk comes from goats, cows, humans, etc., and honey comes from bees. What I want people to understand is that mislabeling a sweetener like agave syrup is about money and profit, to the real determent of your health. The unethical factor is that the natural health food business has gone to great lengths in the case of agave to defraud consumers, by deceiving and lying to those who are trying to seek better health. There is something ethically worse about a company pretending to sell something all natural to people seeking health, than a mainstream company not pretending that their food is healthier. For example, nobody selling fast and junk foods is advocating it is health food. When you are in a natural health food store, you expect to pay extra money for something that is good for you. We have con artists here, pretending to deliver better health at a higher cost, when in reality it is equal to, or much worse than the many other sweeteners or harmful junk food. People are expecting to receive health, and are intentionally being defrauded for profit."

Amber Agave Syrup (Refined Fructose)
Agave syrup (refined fructose) comes in two colors: clear, or light, and amber. What is this difference? Mr. Bianchi explains, "Due to poor quality control in the agave processing plants in Mexico, sometimes the fructose gets burned after being heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it creates a darker, or amber color."

Chain Food Stores and Health-Food Stores
When Western Commerce Corporation was shut down due to their agave syrup alteration scheme in 2000, the big guys in the food industry stayed away from any agave syrups. They knew better than to risk lawsuits, and health consumer fraud. "They were clear that agave was criminally mislabeled per US Code Of Federal Regulation labeling laws, with an untried sweetener, new to the market, that contained saponins, and was not clearly approved as safe for use." explains Mr. Bianchi. For many years following this bust agave syrup was not used.

But recently, some sellers in the agave syrup field, once quiet, have begun sneaking back into the food and beverage chain. And retail food giants like Whole Foods, Wegman's, Trader Joes, and Kroger, who should know better, and who should know the food labeling laws and requirements, still have no hesitation in selling the toxic, unapproved, and mislabeled refined fructose agave syrup, as well as products containing it.12 Mr. Bianchi explains the legality of this practice. "The simple answer here, again, tends to be the correct one. The stores carry agave products knowing that if they are caught, the legal responsibility will be on the agave sellers and producers, and not the stores. They will just pull it off the shelves. They may also be victims themselves and lied to by the purveyors and sellers of agave products. So long as agave products are profitable, the stores will carry them, regardless of fraudulent labeling or health concerns. Stores will continue to carry agave until consumer fraud complaints to local district attorneys, consumer unions, class action litigation or severe reactions like death ensue."

Conclusions on Agave Syrup
Without the FDA making efforts to enforce food-labeling laws, consumers cannot be certain that what they are eating is even what the label says it is. New sweeteners like agave syrup (refined fructose) were made to coin a profit, and not to help or assist vital health. Due to the lies from many companies who sell agave syrup (refined fructose), you have been led to believe that it is a safe and a natural sweetener. The retail refined agave syrup label does not explain that it goes through a complicated chemical refining process of enzymatic digestion, which converts the starch into the free, man-made chemical fructose that has a direct link to serious the degenerative disease conditions so prevalent in our culture. While high-fructose agave syrup won't spike your blood sugar levels, the fructose in it will cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity, and may be toxic for use during pregnancy.

If you want to buy something sweet, get a piece of fruit, not a candy bar labeled as a "health food." If you want to create something sweet, use sweeteners that are known to be safer. For uncooked dishes, unheated raw honey or dates work well. For cooked dishes or sweet drinks, a good organic maple syrup, or even freshly juiced apple or orange juice can provide delicious and relatively safe sweetness. In general, to be healthy, we cannot eat sugar all day, no matter how natural the form of sugar is, or is claimed to be. One should limit total sweetener consumption to approximately 10% of daily calories. Or one sweet side dish per day (like a bowl of fruit with yogurt).

While it may be depressing news to hear about the lack of standards in the health-food world, let this news help encourage you to seek access to more pure and unrefined foods and sweetener sources, so that you can be healthier.

Relevant Reading
Published books that talk about the dangers of refined fructose and problems with food labeling and deceptive health practices:
Sweet Deception, by Dr. Joseph Mercola
The Truth About the Drug Companies, by Marcia Angell
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan
Sugar Shock! by Connie Bennett
Super Size Me, by Morgan Spurlock
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser
Welcome to Food Politics, by Marion Nestle
Generation Rx, by Greg Crister
Bad Foods, by Michael Oakes
Food Fight, by Dan Imhof
The Sugar Fix, Timothy Gower and Richard Johnson
Please Don't Eat the Wallpaper, by Dr. Nancy Irven
Understanding R Epidemic, by Sylvia Ledoux
Fat Politics, by J. Eric Oliver
Obesity Epidemiology, by Frank Hu

Reference Links

Bibliography for Further Research
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Bates FJ et al. Polarimetry, Saccharimetry and the Sugars. (US National Bureau Of Standards. Circular C440). US Government Printing Office; 1942.
Bennett E, ed. Diabetes prevention: historical analysis. Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing. Fall 2001;25(3).
Bizzari S, Jansheker H, Kishi A. High-intensity sweeteners [report abstract]. May 2007.
Brignole E. Just a spoonful of sugar? Mod Drug Discov. May 2001
Brooks JJ. Sugar and cancer [web page]. Available at:
Challem J. Is fructose more natural than sugar? Natural Health Magazine. June 1994:40–44.
Chapleur Y, ed. Carbohydrate Mimics: Concepts and Methods. Wiley-VCH; 1998.
Considine G, ed. Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia. Wiley-Interscience.
Critser G. Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World. Penguin Books; 2003.
Currier WD, Zack M, Ross HM. Sugar Isn't Always Sweet: Living with, Understanding and Managing Hypoglycemia. Uplift Books: 1983.
Food and Nutrition Board. Food Chemicals Codex. 3rd ed. National Academy Press; 1981.
Food: The Next Tobacco? Wall Street Journal. November 10, 2001:1.
Gapstur SM, Gann P, Love W, Liu K, Coloanglo L, Dyer A. Abnormal glucose metabolism and pancreatic cancer mortality. JAMA. May 17 2000;283:2552–2558. This landmark 25-year study, with 40 000 subjects, conclusively proved that lifestyle, exercise, and dietary intake (particularly refined-sweetener consumption and fat intake) have a direct medical correlation to the prevention of this form of cancer. The authors are members of Northwestern University Medical School.
Glinsmann WH, Irausquin H, Park YK. Evaluation of health aspects of sugars contained in carbohydrate sweeteners: report of sugars task force, 1986. J Nutr. 1986;116(118):S1-S216. Available at:
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Hausman P, Hurley JB. The Healing Foods: The Ultimate Authority on the Creative Power of Nutrition. Rodale Press; 1989.
Hendler S, ed. Physicians' Desk Reference. Medical Economics Company Inc.; 2001.
Hoekstra H. Intestinal Fructose Absorption & Toddler's Diarrhea: A Study of Clinical Aspects and Pathophysiology. 1997. ISBN 90-900-97-14-7.
Kretchmer N, Hollenbeck CB. Sugars and  Sweeteners. CRC Press; 1991.
Margen S, ed. The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food & Nutrition. University of California, Berkeley.
Mercola J, Pearsall KD. Sweet Deception. Nelson Books; 2006.
Mercola J. PowerBar founder dies of heart attack [web page].  March 22, 2004.
Mercola J. The potential dangers of sucralose. Available at:
Nestle M. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. University of California Press; 2007.
Perseghin G, Price BP, Petersen KF, et al. Increased glucose transport-phosphorylation and muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise training in insulin-resistant subjects. N Eng J Med. October 31 1996. Available at:
Poplawski S, Pezzuto M, Popielarski S. Isomerization of glucose and fructose [web page]. 1997/1998.
Reiser S, ed. Metabolic Effects Of Utilizable Dietary Carbohydrates. Marcel Dekker;1982:261–284.
Refined fructose and glucose are not true energy sources. Food Technology Magazine, January 1996;48.
Robbins J. The Food Revolution, with foreword by Dean Ornish, MD. Conari Press; 2001.
Rolph GM. Something About Sugar. San Francisco: John J. Newbegin Publishers; 1917.
Rugg-Gunn AJ, ed. Sugarless: Towards the Year 2000; Springer-Verlag Telos; 1994.        
Saltus R. Measuring blood fat vital to heart examination. March 24, 1998. Boston Globe. Triglyceride levels are a precursor to the formation of low density lipoproteins (LDL or "bad" cholesterol) conducted by Antonio M. Gotto Jr., MD, dean of Cornell University Medical College in New York and Jorge Jeppesen, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. Key to the medically published study: the direct causal connection of high levels of triglycerides from refined fructose intake. Ronal Krauss, head of Molecular Medicine at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California said of the study: "A bunch of us who have been absolutely convinced that triglycerides are a part of the missing equation that we have to deal with above and beyond cholesterol (are vindicated) in the predicting the risk of heart disease." The original study was published in Circulation, the medical periodical of the American Heart Association, also in March 1998.
Schrope M. An insulin replacement? Mod Drug Discov. Nov/Dec 2000.
Segala M, ed. Disease Prevention And Treatment. 3rd ed. Life Extension Media; 2000.
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Additional Notes

  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in 2003 that the average consumption of refined sweeteners (not including high-intensity sweeteners) per capita in the US population of approximately 300 million was 161.90 pounds per year. Contrast this consumption number with the first US official statistics in 1905, at just under 6 pounds of total refined sweetener consumption per year, with a population that was less urbanized and less prone to consuming processed food or refined sweeteners. One might argue that mortality rates have actually improved in comparison to the correlation of higher sweetener consumption rates in this 100-year period. In point of fact, diabetes, hyperinsulinism or hypoglycemia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer, and correlated diseases have also rapidly and epidemiologically paralleled the rise of diseases medically and actuarially linked with increased refined-sweetener consumption.
  • In 2001, the US National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy F. Thompson announced a new emphasis on treating obesity, diabetes through managing blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key to this landmark study was the medically based recommendation for regular exercise, a limit to total calories consumed per day – with the specific emphasis on the wholesale reduction of refined carbohydrates, including but not limited to refined sweeteners.
  • Steve Hartose of the Associated Press on March 25, 2004, reported: "Refined Fructose Sweeteners Linked to Obesity Rise," which incorporated USDA data on sweetener consumption rate from 1967 to 2000, contributed by Dr. George A Bray, a longtime obesity scientist at the Louisiana State University system's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. His study's conclusive results where published in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, linking high-fructose corn syrup consumption and obesity in the American population. Food and beverage industry spokespersons tried to deflect the findings, much as the tobacco industry denied any linkage between tobacco products and disease, but the evidence is clear and irrefutable.
  • Reuters Limited, April 26, 1998: "Harvard Medical School in Boston concluded two studies presented at an international conference of the American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society, involving 100,000 American nurses for obesity linkage to asthma. Over 14.6 million in the US suffer from asthma. Triglycerides, caused primarily from refined fructose consumption, are a leading cause of obesity."
  • Meira Fields, PhD, at USDA in Beltsville, Maryland, has conducted several studies directly linking laboratory animals (rats and pigs) with rapid copper depletion, leading to rapid and advanced heart disease, as a result of "moderate" high-fructose corn syrup ingestion. Richard Anderson, PhD, lead scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, notes: "Many people think that adult-onset diabetes and cardiovascular disease are natural diseases of aging; we believe they are natural diseases of poor nutrition." This was published in Men's Confidential magazine, confirming earlier tests results were reported in Science News (June 8, 1985) by Norman Steele, PhD, of the USDA, delivered to the Federation of American Societies For Experimental Biology in St. Louis, MO, in 1985.
  • EU Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners intended for use in foodstuffs, cleared November 2003, states that cyclamates in water, milk, and fruit-juice based drinks, as well as energy-reduced and no-added-sugar drinks and a range of confectionery products, including chewing gum and breath-freshening sweets, are to be reduced. Cyclamates are banned in the US. The EU banned stevia in all categories in late 2002.
  • Approximately 24.9 billion pounds is the current production (2004) per annum in the US of high-fructose corn syrup. Divide this number by the estimate population of 300 million, and this gives you an average consumption per capita per annum of 82.67 pounds of HFCS consumed per year for each man, woman, and child in the US.
  • Approximately 420 million pounds per year of "honey" is produced in North America, for human consumption, per USDA numbers. Most people believe that honey is produced exclusively by the natural enzymatic and digestive conversion of pollen, nectar, or other organic plant materials by bees to the digestible multisaccharide known and defined as "honey." In point of fact, true natural honey, whether USDA certified or not, in various grades, is only produced in the mid-spring to late-summer months of each year, when the biological materials are readily available for bees to digest, convert, and regurgitate. Then how is honey production in many regions continuous into the fall, winter, and early spring when the raw material sources for conversion do not exist? Apiarist would argue that higher latitudes produce more daylight hours during the summer for honey production, or conversely the importation of Southern Hemisphere honey, during the winter months of North America. In point of fact, there is a very widespread and significant volume practice of feeding bees refined sucrose and/or refined crystallized or liquid high-fructose corn syrup to merely flavor, partially convert, and call "honey," because it past through the bee's digestive tract. The resulting product (essentially bee barf) is labeled as "honey" but is closer in saccharide breakdown to the refined-sweetener sources used. These additional months of stress on the hives, keeping them under light 24 hours per day, eventually cause mite infestation in the hives and large bee kill-offs. These cyclical kills, approximately every fourth or fifth year, cause a shortage in production, and honey prices spike. In addition to this growing production practice of feeding synthetic refined sweeteners to bees, honey is allergenic; should not be consumed by infants, pregnant women, or other health-sensitive populations; and is unstandardized in water activity (aw), as well as microbially and bacteriologically active and unstandardized. Higher levels of refined fructose in honey cause accelerated Maillard browning reactions when heat above 140 °F. Assertions by promoters honey that it is beneficial for extended kinesiological, sports, or diet energy have no independent scientific basis. Claims that honey can extend shelf life in processed food products or is a better humectant than other products, like inverted sugar, are false.
  • In late 1994, the US FDA denied a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) petition submitted by Towa Chemical of Japan for maltitol (sometimes falsely labeled as HSH, hydrolyzed maltose syrup, or other brand names to obscure what is being used), on the basis of laboratory animals' producing a very high percentage of carcinogenic tumors. Human testing was not approved based on these ingestion tests. Producers were quick to respond by citing findings by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in 1997 and 1998 that there was nothing wrong with maltitol or other polyols. Such assertions do not reflect or refute the carcinogenic evidence that caused the GRAS petition for maltitol to be denied, nor are these organizations the governing regulatory bodies for the US or any other government food organizations in the world. Assertions that polyols are safe for human ingestion are neither legally nor scientifically based and primarily marketing in conjecture. The JEFCA is also quoted as saying that 70 to 100 grams per day of polyols is an acceptable and safe level of consumption in humans is dubious. This ingestion rate is laughable, and we welcome this joint committee, any polyol producers' sales staff, or any other individuals or organizations to try to consume this "recommended" safe gram level per day and maintain digestive normalcy.
  • In a related matter, polyols do not comply with CFR standards for GRAS status for the legal definition and ingredient descriptor or "standard of identity" for real "chocolate," because they are nonnutritive and the US chocolate manufacturers do not want their value-added product category associated with a laxative and cancer-causing sweetening system. There have been several attempts to characterize imported compounds coating products using polyols, even cocoa–butter based, as "chocolate-flavored" or associating an identifiable chocolate brand name with the product. All have eventually failed, because consumers at the very least "get the runs" by eating these products and do not repurchase.
  • In 2000, the Center For Science in the Public Interest submitted a citizens' petition to the FDA, requesting the mandatory front-panel product warning label for the use of any polyol (lactitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt, HSH, polydextrose, glycerin/glycerol, sorbitol, erythritol, etc.). This petition's intent was to protect consumers from ingesting more than 1 gram of these ingredients, due to the high propensity of children, pregnant women, seniors, diabetics, and other health-compromised populations of consumers who could experience adverse digestive side effects. Additionally, the CPSI maintained, based on a large body of evidence, that the total grams of refined sugars must be further emphasized in the Nutrition Facts Panel requirements under US Nutrition Labelling and Education Act legislation. Assertions by marketers in the EU, Canada, the US, and elsewhere that maltitol (or other polyols) are naturally based or derived from natural sourcing are false – unless, of course, refined gasoline can also be considered and labeled "dinosaur juice. …"
  • Polyols are extensively used in mouthwashes, toothpastes, sugarless gums, mints, breath fresheners, throat lozenges, and cough syrups – categories that are not under beverage or food CFR law in the US, but rather cosmetic, flavor, or pharmaceutical law, and are not considered sources for full ingestion by humans. The rational by promoters of polyols that because they are OK to use in these oral categories fails in medical evidence of the harmful effects of polyols in total human ingestion.
  • Maltodextrin, typically corn based, as a byproduct of the corn wet milling and refining process in the manufacturer of HFCS or corn syrup is not technically considered a sweetener below 20 DE (dextrose equivalent) in sweetness value. These ingredients are touted to be "complex carbohydrates," natural, and sometimes falsely labeled by the nonlegal descriptor of "glucose polymers." There is no credible medical or kinesiological evidence to suggest that refined maltodextrin provides any sustained blood glucose or "energy" benefit to consumers. In point of fact, refined maltodextrins are typically converted to blood glucose through the Krebs cycle even faster than refined sucrose.
  • One example of this fundamental and permanent shift in consumer awareness in the current food marketplace is the category of snack, diet, functional, and energy bars. In 1989, in the US and Canada, the total granola, breakfast, snack, and energy bar market among the top 12 brands was less than US$60 million per annum. In 2004 (per several industry sources and cross-referenced periodical databases), the estimate market share is approximately US$3.2 billion among the top 25 brands, with major multinationals having acquired the smaller brands.
    This is clear economic evidence that consumers are reading ingredient labels and avoiding refined-sweetener intake, because this bar sector has taken almost 100% of its market share from refined-sweetener- and fat-laden categories or brands. The successful bar brands are avoiding polyols, glycerin, HFCS, maltodextrin, refined sucrose, and so on. Acquiring multinationals that failed to heed the lesson on why these brands were bought and consumer loyalty gained, based on cleaner and safer ingredients, have lost market share to those who do understand this fact. The days of confusing (or tricking) the consumer are long gone.
    A similar economic shift has occurred in the EU over genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and to a lesser extent organic ingredient sourcing. American suppliers lost hundreds of millions of dollars in market share, virtually overnight, to suppliers who had foreseen that authentic GMO-free raw material sources would be demanded by consumers. The refined-sweetener category is equally problematic in the EU as elsewhere because consumers do now also read ingredient labels in ever-increasing numbers. Major brands on American supermarket shelves in the early 1990s have been acquired, or are completely gone, because their existing ingredient declarations looked like chemistry catalogs. Phony and illegal avoidance labeling, often found in the American natural health food sector, with such fanciful labels like "evaporated cane juice" to avoid the term sugar (although it is equivalent to and metabolized exactly as sugar), or the successfully criminally prosecuted "agave syrup" for hydrolyzed high-fructose inulin syrup (recently showing up under the avoidance descriptor of noncompliant "chicory syrup" and failing to reveal the highly refined high-fructose nature of the ingredient), have been exposed as "false and misleading" by the FDA and not in CFR compliance. 

You are the hero the world has been waiting for!


Ramiel Nagel is an alternative-medicine author of two books, Healing Our Children and Cure Tooth Decay. He offers free health information on his websites: and


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