(NaturalNews) Seattle-area food cooperative PCC Natural Markets has removed all products containing high-fructose corn syrup from its shelves, and has announced that it will no longer carry any product sweetened with the controversial ingredient.
"I'm completely happy about that," said PCC shopper Karen Hunt. "I try hard not to add that to my family's diet; I just don't think we need to do that. I'm sure there's a lot of arguments on both sides, but I just sort of feel intuitively that it's better not to."
High-fructose corn syrup has drawn criticism both as a sweetener in general and also due to its specific biochemical properties. Studies have indicated that high-fructose corn syrup may be worse for the body than similar sweeteners, and that it may interfere with the brain's ability to tell when it is full. Environmentalists have also criticized the techniques used to produce the sweetener.
Because it is so cheap to produce, critics also say that high-fructose corn syrup has encouraged food manufacturers to add empty calories to staples such as breads and cereals, simply to add a bit of sweetness and make the food taste more appealing.
Among the products no longer carried at PCC are Wheat Thins, Kellogg's Raising Bran and Sara Lee whole-grain bagels.
PCC is the first major retailer to ban high-fructose corn syrup since Earth Fare, a 13-store natural foods market in North Carolina, did so in 2004.
"You look at how pervasive [high-fructose corn syrup] is, then you start asking yourself, 'How is this stuff produced, anyway?'" said Troy DeGroff, Earth Fare's sales and marketing director. "It's not in keeping with natural processes or the tenets of a healthy store. It's our obligation to remove this. We need more retailers who are willing to take a stand"
PCC has also banned trans fats and milk produced from cows treated with growth hormones, and does not provide plastic bags for shoppers.