Proposed 'High Fructose Corn Syrup' Name Change Misleading: Group

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Women who drank sodas regularly had an 83 percent increased risk for an ischemic stroke. Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

The Sugar Association said it sent a request to the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to reject the Corn Refiners Association’s petition to change the name "high-fructose corn syrup" to “corn sugar,” citing a recent study on human metabolism. 

The Sugar Association, which represents major U.S. sugar companies, sent findings to the FDA that suggested that “the proposed name change would mislead consumers.” The association says the report refutes the CRA claim that “there are no metabolic differences between HFCS and sugar.”

The statement was based on a study published on Dec. 5, and was conducted by departments at both the University of Florida and the University of Colorado. The association said the study had shown “significant differences in human absorption and metabolism of HFCS compared with sugar.”

"The Metabolism study confirms that the human body experiences significantly different acute metabolic effects from the consumption of HFCS when compared to sugar," said Andy Briscoe, president and CEO of the Sugar Association, according to the statement.

"This research builds on earlier animal studies suggesting that HFCS and sucrose can have different effects on body weight and obesigenic measures," Briscoe said.

The fight between the corn and sugar industries began last year when CRA, a trade association for corn, proposed a name change of high-fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar.” 

The argument was that the new name “more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike,” according to the CRA statement. 

The Sugar Association argued that the corn industry desperately wanted to fight the public perception that corn syrup causes obesity, and because of the bad associations HFCS had on obesity and other diseases, decided to change the name.

The sugar industry has been losing profits ever since the cheaper corn-based sweetener came on to the market in the 1970s, and has since been rapidly losing market share as more companies move to cheaper corn sweetener options.

The Sugar Association said sales of HFCS have fallen and the corn industry has waged a “multi-million dollar campaign” to call HFCS “corn sugar” on websites and television ads.

In a statement on Monday, Sugar Association said “[m]any consumers read food labels to identify and avoid foods that contain HFCS and, as a result, sales of the sweetener have fallen.”

The Sugar Association said the corn association “began a multi-million dollar campaign to promote HFCS as ‘corn sugar’ - which is the name of an entirely different sweetener (dextrose) - on its websites and in TV advertisements. “

The Sugar Association said allowing companies to change the HFCS name to “corn sugar” could pose serious consumer confusion, and in the end could be life-threatening to those with “heredity fructose intolerance.”

“It would be wrong for the CRA to place this burden on vulnerable consumers in order to stop declining sales of HFCS for the benefit of the agribusiness giants that are the CRA's members, like Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill and others,” the Sugar Association added. 

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