CHICAGO (Dow Jones) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has rejected a request by corn-refining giants to change the name of the widely used and controversial food ingredient “high-fructose corn syrup” to “corn sugar.”
The Corn Refiners Association, which has been waging an advertising and public-relations campaign to enhance perceptions of the ingredient for several years, sought the name change in a petition to the FDA in 2010.
Critics of the sweetener, which is widely used in snack foods, condiments and other products, contend that it has played a significant role in the national obesity problem.
The FDA said the corn-refining group didn’t provide sufficient grounds for a name change. The agency said it defines sugar as “a solid, dried and crystallized food,” while syrup is a “liquid food.”
The Corn Refiners Association, which includes commodity-processing giants Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Cargill Inc., has run advertisements for several years seeking to explain to consumers that the corn industry’s sweetener has the same nutritional value as sugar and is just as natural.
The Washington, D.C., trade group is embroiled in a public-relations battle with the sugar-processing industry, which argues high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are two distinct products.
Last year, eight leading sugar companies and two trade associations sued six corn processors and the Corn Refiners Association, alleging the corn industry is improperly using “corn sugar” in advertisements and elsewhere to describe high-fructose corn syrup. The case is pending in a federal court in Los Angeles.
The Corn Refiners Association issued a statement Wednesday, saying its petition with the FDA was denied “on narrow, technical grounds.”
The government “did not address or question the overwhelming scientific evidence that high-fructose corn syrup is a form of sugar and is nutritionally the same as other sugars,” the trade group said, adding that many American consumers remain confused about high-fructose corn syrup.
Dan Callister, a lawyer representing sugar processors in the litigation against corn refiners, said in a statement released by the Sugar Association on Wednesday that the FDA’s ruling is a victory for consumers and confirms that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are different products. The ruling “reaffirms” that “sugar is sugar. HFCS is not sugar,” he said.
Some food giants, including Starbucks Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc., have in recent years jettisoned high-fructose corn syrup in favor of cane or beet sugar. The switches have come primarily in response to growing sentiment among some consumers that sugar is more natural than high-fructose corn syrup and therefore is healthier.
Source: Dow Jones
Posted by Haylie Shipp