>> Tuesday, January 6, 2009
It's time to cruise the grocery store shelves and discover another surprising HFCS-containing product. This time it's not a food, which might make it even more surprising (or less if you're cynical) - liquid cough syrup! I guess it shouldn't be surprising since the medicine is floating in a thick, sweet, gloppy syrup, but maybe I expected more from my medicine.
I was surprised to find that all of the liquid Robitussin cough and cold products contain HFCS. I rarely use cough suppressant, but I will turn to an expectorant for congestion, and liquid is nice because it will coat your throat and provide a little relief from coughing that way. Take a look at the inactive ingredients for Robitussin Chest Congestion: anhydrous citric acid, artificial flavor, caramel, FD&C red no. 40, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, liquid glucose, menthol, propylene glycol, purified water, saccharin sodium, sodium benzoate. Ugh.
There are alternatives. Not all cough and cold medicines have HFCS in them. Tylenol Chest Congestion, for example, is HFCS free. (It also has acetaminophen in it, though. Always check the active ingredients so you don't accidentally double up!) For kicks, let's just take a gander at Tylenol Chest Congestion Cool Burst Liquid's ingredient list: carboxymethylcellulose sodium, citric acid, FD&C blue #1, flavors, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, sucralose, sucrose.
Now I'm not banning all foods with food coloring or artificial sweeteners in our household (though we are naturally consuming less of both), but I do wonder what business they have in medicine. I would rather have a gross brown medicine free of artificial colors - especially if I'm going to give it to my child - than one loaded with it, especially as it seems that some people can be affected in negative ways by artificial colors. I'm sure that we could argue against some of the other ingredients too, but the artificial colors and sweeteners are the ones that really jump out at me, and both are ubiquitous in over-the-counter medicines.
So the moral of this story? Read those ingredients! All brands are not created equal. If you don't like the inactive ingredients in one brand, you might have better luck with another. Or you might find that you have to consume an ingredient you normally wouldn't in order to get the medicine your body needs.