Twizzler Manufacturer Campaigning For American Nutrition?

Companies across the globe are beginning to address their sustainability principles and criteria.  By making tangible positive changes, greenwashing may finally be fading away.  Enter Hershey’s.  The Hershey Company is the most recognized chocolate brand throughout the world and produces very well-known sugar-laden snacks such as Milk Duds and Jolly Ranchers.  Recently, this chocolate confectioner became a sponsor with the American Dietetic Association, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.  The press release regarding the partnership states:

The Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition develops and supports cutting-edge scientific research for products and technologies to provide consumers with a range of snacking choices, and will collaborate with ADA on consumer and health professional initiatives including an innovative, national consumer-focused nutrition education campaign.  The campaign will spotlight the expertise and experience of registered dietitians, the nation’s front-line food and nutrition professionals, in helping people achieve a healthy, personalized, balanced eating plan.”

The Bad

The first issue that needs to be addressed is the validity of the ADA.  With nearly 67,000 members, 75 % of ADA’s members are registered dieticians.  Their website states that their mission is to empower members to be the nation’s food and nutrition leaders and optimize the nation’s health through food and nutrition.  Additional sponsors of the ADA include PepsiCo, Coke, and Mars.  Correct me if I am wrong, but having companies such as Coke and Hershey acting as your key sponsors could lead to a potential conflict of interests.  Right?

The Ugly

Hershey’s top selling items include Twizzlers and Jolly Ranchers, both with top ingredients including corn syrup and sugar.  In fact, most Hershey products contain high fructose corn syrup along with hydrogenated oils, ingredients that do not encompass healthy living.  According to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy‘s recent report, mercury was found in 9 of 20 samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup.  This list includes Hershey’s top selling Chocolate Syrup.  Several years ago, the FDA forced Hershey’s to re-label some of their products from saying “milk chocolate” and “made with chocolate” to “chocolate candy” and “chocolaty” because of their substitution of cocoa butter with vegetable oil to reduce material costs.  How does a company like this become a sponsor of the ADA?  As Heimi Weingarten of the Huffington Post puts it,

“And that folks, is the endgame for all the snack companies — to sell us more of their products, not less. If they have to spend millions to set up a scientific research center and contribute to doctors and dietitians as well, so be it. Marketing expenses.”

The Good

Alternatives to these options do exist though.  Fair Trade Certified organic chocolate can be purchased via various companies including  TransFair USA, Equal Exchange, Alter Eco, Global Exchange and Sweet Earth Organics.  As stated by Triple Pundit’s Bill Debenedetto in Mars Enters the World of Sustainability, companies involved in the food sector are aligning with NGOs such as the Rainforest Alliance to bring sustainable practices into their products.

Dale Wannen

Dale Wannen is President of Sustainvest Asset Management, an investment advisory firm focused on sustainable and responsible investing (SRI). Prior to Sustainvest, Dale was a portfolio manager at Harrington Investments and specialized in ESG investment strategies, securities analysis, and shareholder advocacy. Prior to this position, Dale was a financial advisor with UBS Wealth Management Services in San Francisco. He is often a guest speaker on the topic of ESG investing and shareholder advocacy.Dale has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Rowan University and currently is a volunteer with Mentor Me Petaluma, Rebuilding Together Petaluma, and the founder of Green Drinks Petaluma.He also currently sits as Board of Director and Treasurer of San Francisco human rights organization, Global Exchange, teaches Economics for the Oakland non-profit Game Theory Academy and is a committee member for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco. Previous volunteer work has included Treasurer and Board Member for bird conservation organization, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO), committee member of the Petaluma Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC), and President of the Social Venture Finance Club at Presidio Graduate School.Dale currently holds the Series 65 FINRA license and has previously held the Series 6, 7, 63, 66 and California Life and Health Insurance Certification. He is a member of National Association of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).Dale lives in Petaluma, CA with his wife Lauri and their Malamute Shadow.

11 responses

  1. Pingback: Twizzler Manufacturer Campaigning For American Nutrition? | Triple … : DynamicSystems
  2. No mercury or mercury-based technology is used in the production of high fructose corn syrup in North America.

    The American public can rest assured that high fructose corn syrup is safe. Safety is the highest priority for our industry, which is why we immediately commissioned external testing as well as independent expert review of claims concerning mercury and our corn sweetener.

    Woodhall Stopford, MD, MSPH, of Duke University Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading experts in mercury contamination, reviewed the results of total mercury testing of samples of high fructose corn syrup conducted by Eurofins Central Analytical Laboratory (Metairie, LA) in February and March 2009. Dr. Stopford concluded:

    • No quantifiable mercury was detected in any of the samples analyzed.
    • High fructose corn syrup does not appear to be a measureable contributor to mercury in foods.

    Consumers can see read Dr. Stopford’s findings at

    Audrae Erickson
    Corn Refiners Association

    1. Audrae Erickson, high fructose corn syrup is not safe. Please read Dr. Hyman’s article about the reasons HFCS will kill you:

      And Audrae, please stop insulting the American public because we want to eat healthier. We are not confused–we just don’t want to eat HFCS or highly processed, genetically altered foods.
      You do not have the right to force it down our throats, or indicate that we are stupid because we don’t want it.

  3. You said “In fact, most Hershey products contain high fructose corn syrup along with hydrogenated oils, ingredients that do not encompass healthy living.”

    I think you’re confusing HFCS and straight corn syrup. And that kind of ruins the rest of your arguments. HFCS are rare in candy – but corn syrup is common in “sugar candy” but not allowed in chocolate.

    Also, the FDA didn’t FORCE Hershey’s to relabel their candies. They reformulated them so they were not ALLOWED to be called chocolate any longer. Hershey was intimately involved in the formation of the Standards of Identity for chocolate. The FDA standards were a formality and were pretty well followed even before the standards were set up.

    While you state that it’s a conflict of interest to have Hershey’s, Mars and Coca-Cola to have their hand in the ADA, these companies make more than just what you’re mentioning with candy and soda. Hershey’s owns Dagoba (organic), Mars owns Seeds of Change (fair trade) and Coca-Cola is in the juice business as well.

  4. Coca-Cola sells juice to grab a share of the juice market, not because they care about our health; if public health (and quality) was Coca-Cola’s concern they’d put the cane-sugar back into their beverages. Some Hispanic bodegas sell Squirt® in the thick spiral bottles, bottled in Mexico with cane-sugar; want to “taste the past”? Try one; you’ll find yourself going back to that bodega. Coca-Cola sells water too, because they want part of THAT market. They’d sell snake-oil if you’d buy it (you do). Hershey’s & Mars’ dabbling in organic and “fair trade” products can’t begin to justify their disregard for public health in the bulk of their product line. Hershey’s, Mars and Coca-Cola contributing to the ADA, is like a coal-mining conglomerate contributing to the Federal Black Lung Benefits Program (after first banning respirators in their mines). HFCS is not metabolized the same as sugar; saying HFCS is safe because no mercury is present is like saying “Our arsenic contains NO cyanide!” Nestlé just put a “Contains no HFCS” label on Nesquik chocolate syrup and when I shop the shelf is nearly empty – though there’s plenty of Hershey’s syrup left for those who don’t mind diabetic children. Hooray for Hunt’s Ketchup! I hope the exclude HFCS from their entire product line – no more “’57” for me! Perhaps those companies which continue to add HFCS to food products could take a more responsible role by developing a “HFCS patch” to help ween kids off the byproduct/sludge? Hey! If there’s profit to be made, why not?

    Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association says “The American public can rest assured that high fructose corn syrup is safe.” Well let her add some to her grandchild’s feeding bottle as a show of confidence and good faith! Corn Refiners Association? Can’t Corn be Refined in Association with Moonshine? Someone might be drinking their own Kool-Aid. “Erickson”: a Scandinavian surname, even if you descend from the hordes which invaded England. I’d be interested to know how many Scandinavians add HFCS to  their world-famous chocolate.

    The industrial production process for HFCS was refined by Japanese government scientists circa 1970, yet the Japanese government has made the use of artificial sweeteners in soft drinks illegal. Methamphetamine was first synthesized from ephedrine by a Japanese chemist in 1893. In 1919, another Japanese chemist synthesized crystallized meth by reducing ephedrine using red phosphorous and iodine (Yummy!). Both forms pf methamphetamine are illegal in Japan. All three products are consumed to excess in the USA; quite a contrast, no?

  5. I’m so glad you are drawing attention to this, Dale. I worked with nutritionists on a community project last year, and I have a lot of respect for the role they play, (especially these specific strong, intelligent women).

    But reading Audrae Erickson’s cold reply to just one of your critiques makes me feel very nervous about the role industry plays in the very private realm of personal nutrition. It is a conflict of interest to have candy companies fund our health advisers.

    Fortunately, I would add to your “good” section that we are seeing a surge in local, organic foods availability. I love Sweet Earth and Equal Exchange chocolates, but it’s also important to remember corn syrup is an additive in many processed foods that might seem “healthy” at first glance. We need to work to make fresh foods accessible to all!

  6. JustSayNo2HFCS – You said “if public health (and quality) was Coca-Cola’s concern they’d put the cane-sugar back into their beverages”

    Um, no. If anyone is concerned about their health they wouldn’t drink sodas. There’s really no nutritional value and they leach calcium from bones & teeth. They’re full of empty, empty calories. Would sugar really improve that? No. Sodas should be an occasional treat, not a regular hydration source.

    Let’s make no mistake, consumers have the ultimate say in this. Just stop drinking sodas. Stop drinking sweetened drinks.

  7. Well CYBELE, I sense a “scold” from a person whom if you click on their screen-name, you’re led to that person’s latest review of Mentos candy on “”, a review soured by laments that Mentos doesn’t make enough of their flavors available “stateside”. A person with with 54 pages of reviews totaling 2686 reviews! A person who’s profile lists their Occupation as “Candy Taster”; and admits to being a “a candy lover by birth” with a “Top Ten” list as follows:

    1. Malted Milk Balls
    2. Gummi Bears
    3. Chocolate Covered Almonds
    4. Licorice (preferably a molasses/wheat base)
    5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
    6. SweeTarts
    7. Grapefruit Mentos
    8. Nougat de Montelimar
    9. Barley Sugar Candy
    10. Peppermint Patties

    A list of confections most of which no doubt get “all up in” your molars while you gnaw them, yet CYBELE stresses “dental health” as a reason to shun all carbonated beverages. This sounds like an issue of “pick your poison”. No matter which poison you pick to consume, cane-sugar is hands-down healthier than beet-sugar and HFCS comes in at a sludgy third place.

    The most cogent quote from CYBELE was “Let’s make no mistake, consumers have the ultimate say in this.” CYBELE is right: vote with your wallet; we’re already seeing great results on labels of common-consumer products.

    To CYBELE’s: “Just stop drinking sodas.” Some people LIKE “tiny bubbles”, while others like candy.

    To CYBELE’s: “Stop drinking sweetened drinks.” Well CYBELE, why don’t YOU stop eating candy? IT rots your teeth!

    Myself? I hardly ever imbibe of sodas. I drink locally reverse-osmosis filtered water which is then distilled, and essential minerals are added back in. They have their water independently tested weekly and post the results in plain sight. On the road I prefer Fiji Water and don’t mind paying for it, though if I see it discounted I’ll always spring (pun intended) for a case. Arrowhead Spring water is my first choice in the “common” category.

    I “thought” I was commenting ion an article about HFCS, but it’s turned into a virtual food-fight laced with gender based cheerleading and accolades. Example: “I have a lot of respect for the role they play, (especially these specific strong, intelligent women).” The polar opposite of THAT statement would be: “I have very little respect for the roles males feign, (especially those generally weak, dullards known as men).” It occurs to me that women and men should be on the same team when it comes to nutrition and health. It APPEARS to me that some would find a “green”, “fair trade” chocolate bar more appetizing were it made or marketed by a female.  “Brave Aria, you will let me know when those lambs stop screaming won’t you?”

    Regretfully the hordes are at our gates; this will be the final transmission on this pirate frequency from within The United States of Chicago, DC. Over and Out.

  8. To Audrae Erickson: How much of that red artificial drink (from the corn refiners’ commercials) do you give to your children each day? How much high fructose corn syrup would you consider “in moderation?” How many grams or ounces or gallons would be considered “in moderation.” I’ve asked you over and over–please reply on some of these blogs, or email me so that I can let my students know.
    I can’t believe that red artificial HFCS drink (from the CRA ads) has a place in any healthy diet. Do you abuse the health of your children with that “red” poison, or do you just expect to make money from other mothers buying it for their children. Do you drink your talk, Audrae? Please reply.

Leave a Reply