Monday, April 26, 2010

Would you feed your kids ice cream that does not melt?

Last Sunday, there was an article in Sunday Times which talked about an unmeltable ice cream from Ya Kun.  I don't know about you, but I am very concerned about this.  As you can see, the ice cream retains it shape for an hour instead of melting into a liquid like most ice cream should. In the article, it is explained that this is because the manufacturers added emulsifiers and stabilisers to the ice cream to prevent it from melting.  According to them, the amount of stabilisers used is in compliance with the US FDA requirements so it is safe for human consumption. Remember that they also told us that Trans Fats were safe!

I don't know about you, but as a concerned parent, I have told my kids that we will avoid eating the Ya Kun ice cream toast until I can be convinced that it is safe.  In other countries, such "ice cream" would not be called "ice cream" but "ice confectionery" to differentiate it from real ice cream.  I think we as consumers need to be better informed so that we can make a decision whether to eat it or not.

We as consumers need to demand safer and better food or else we will be given whatever is cheaper and easier to handle.  I spoke with a friend of mine who runs a Cafe and he tells me that even with butter, there are cheaper ones with plenty of stabilizers or more expensive ones which have natural ingredients.  We need to reward those places who serve healthy food and voice our concerns to those who compromise on food quality. 

Ya Kun "ice cream" toast does not behave like ice cream!

What do you think?  Are you concerned  about this?  If you are, please write in to voice your concern!  You can write directly to Straits Times Life! at and directly to Ya Kun at  The people selling food must be made to feel responsible for the food they feed us and it is up to us to make sure they know we care.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Parents beware of High Fructose Corn Syrup!

Article by Dr Suren Baskaran

High Fructose corn syrup(HFCS) is a combination of fructose(in high quantity) and glucose, that is manufactured from corn.  The controversy is that critics say that HFCS unlike table sugar (sucrose) is more damaging to our health. However others oppose this opinion saying that there is no evidence that HFCS is worse than sugar.

HFCS was only produced in the 70s. The fact is, since 1970 we are eating much more HFCS than ever before in human history.  This is because it is cheaper to produce and very versatile.  HFCS is so ubiquitous, it is virtually impossible to avoid.  It is found in soft drinks, packaged biscuits, condiments, jams, fast foods, low fat packaged food, cereals etc.

Critics of HFCS point out that there is an increase in diabetes and obesity which correlates with the rise of HFCS use.  There are several studies in rats and humans that suggest that HFCS increases obesity and have worse blood tests outcomes compared to sucrose.  Some suggest that HFCS when taken does not give a sensation of fullness and so we can consume more of it.  However the studies are not conclusive and many studies also come up with different conclusions.  The American Medical Association says that the evidence of HFCS being worse than sucrose is not confirmatory and more research is required. 

Whether or not it is worse than table sugar is not that important.  There is no dispute that HFCS is bad news.  We take so much of it daily that it causes a major shift of our lipid levels to the dangerous form which includes high triglycerides.  Such a lipid profile increases the risk of heart attacks and stroke.  HFCS can cause liver abnormality, called `fatty liver' or NAFLD (non alcoholic fatty liver disease).  We now know that NAFLD can be a serious disease than can causes scarring of the liver and liver dysfunction.  HFCS also causes insulin to be less effective (insulin resistance) and a condition called metabolic syndrome.  Even gout is an effect of HFCS.

Too much of HFCS and even glucose has caused so much preventable health problems.  I urge you to look after yourself and your family by avoiding foods with HFCS such as sugared drinks, fast food, processed biscuits and sweets.  Read food labels. 

For more info on HFCS, please click here.