The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) denied a petition made by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to rename high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) “corn sugar.” The association requested the change because of the negative impression and confusion the public has of the term “high fructose corn syrup.”
The FDA, which decides what can go on food labels, said changing the name would only confuse U.S. consumers and may even pose a health risk to people who suffer from fructose intolerance.
The CRA petitioned the FDA for the name change in September 2010. After 20 months of review, the FDA sent a letter to CRA President Audrae Erickson yesterday, explaining its ruling.
“Your petition does not provide sufficient grounds for the agency to authorize ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS,” said Michael M. Landa, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in the letter. “The use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties. … We are not persuaded by the arguments in the petition that consumers do not associate ‘corn sugar’ with dextrose. The term ‘corn sugar’ has been used to describe dextrose for over 30 years.”
The CRA’s request came only after the association launched a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, which argued that sugar and HFCS were identical—claims that sparked false advertising suits filed by Big Sugar against the corn industry.
“The FDA’s ruling represents a victory for American consumers,” Dan Callister, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation, said in a statement. “It reaffirms what most consumer advocates, health experts and policy officials have been saying all along: only sugar is sugar. HFCS is not sugar. The next step is for the federal court to end the CRA’s misleading propaganda campaign.”