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Letters to the Editor

Don't fix what isn't broken

Gwinnett County Commissioners will soon meet to vote on revisions to the county smoking ordinance. In late 2003 our county took a progressive stance toward protecting the health of its citizens by implementing a strong smoke-free air ordinance. Rather than take a step back from this responsible and successful accomplishment, Gwinnett should be taking steps forward toward clean air.

Because it is the right of individuals to breathe smoke-free air, it inherently becomes the duty of government to maintain that air. The original intent of the smoke-free ordinance was to protect all Gwinnett County residents. Since the law has taken effect, citizens have come to expect that they will not have to inhale dangerous fumes from secondhand smoke. When we add exemptions to the law, we deviate from that goal. By deviating from the original intent of the law, we create confusion, and that confusion ultimately hurts our citizens.

- Christopher K. Masak

Suwanee

High fructose corn syrup: A safe, natural ingredient

We read with interest the Aug. 9 article "Fake white bread sneaks whole-grain fiber in on picky eaters." As a strong supporter of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, we appreciate the advice offered in this article. However, the article unfortunately mischaracterizes high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a natural, homegrown sweetener from U.S. corn fields by suggesting that parents should be "cautious" about it.

As a natural, nutritive sweetener, HFCS can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. In 1983, the Food and Drug Administration listed HFCS as "Generally Recognized as Safe" (known as GRAS status) for use in food, and the FDA reaffirmed that ruling in 1996. According to the American Dietetic Association, "Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations ... as well as individual health goals."

HFCS contains about equal ratios of fructose and glucose similar to table sugar. The human body cannot discern a difference between HFCS, table sugar (sucrose) and honey because they are all nearly compositionally equivalent.

Your readers should know that HFCS has proven beneficial to consumers through its use in many foods and beverages, including several products that are specifically made for people trying to control their weight. HFCS makes foods such as bread and breakfast cereal "brown" better when baked and gives chewy cookies and snack bars their soft texture. It also protects freshness. HFCS actually inhibits microbial spoilage by reducing water activity and extends shelf life through superior moisture control.

- Audrae Erickson

President of Corn Refiners Association

Washington, D.C.