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Iowa corn growers upset with Hy-Vee’s “Clean Honest Ingredient” list

ELDRIDGE, Iowa -- Hy-Vee has a new label to mark foods made with 'clean' and 'honest' ingredients, and products made with high fructose corn syrup won't make the cut.

Over the next year, the grocery chain plans to roll out its new 'Clean Honest Ingredients' logo. It identifies Hy-Vee brand products that do not contain artificial ingredients, synthetic chemicals, or high fructose corn syrup.

"I think consumers are becoming more aware, really with the Internet and the ability to get information on demand. They're demanding transparency. They want to know what's in their products, so we're trying to make that easy for them," said Eric Long, Group Vice President, Private Brands at Hy-Vee.

Many Iowa corn growers, though, are frustrated by high fructose corn syrup's inclusion on that list.

"I guess I find that a little bit offensive, because it's not that I would say high fructose corn syrup is necessarily healthy, but I wouldn't say that it's any worse than cane sugar, beet sugar, even honey and maple syrup," said Hans Schnekloth, a sixth-generation farmer in Eldridge, Iowa.

Schnekloth says people should limit their sugar intake, regardless of where it comes from. However, he argues high fructose corn syrup is as honest and natural as other sweeteners.

"People love sweets, right? So, you might as well use a sweetener that's provided by people working in your community. I guess that's the frustration for me," said Schnekloth.

Iowa Corn issued this statement on the controversy:

"As two well-known Iowa organizations and brands, Iowa Corn and Hy-Vee are in a dialogue about how we can work together to provide accurate information to and meet the needs of Iowa consumers."

Hy-Vee says some of its store brand products still contain high fructose corn syrup, and there is no plan to eliminate the ingredient. However, those items will not get the 'Clean Honest' label.