Sugar Association Commends FDA Commitment to Consumer Right to Know; Regulators Affirm Changing HFCS Name Would Confuse Public
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had denied a Corn Refiners Association (CRA) petition to rename high-fructose corn syrup “corn sugar,” saying the action would only serve to confuse U.S. consumers and could even pose a health risk to those suffering from fructose intolerance.
The FDA ruling, issued in a letter to Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson following 20 months of review, rejected all three arguments made in the CRA’s petition, which was filed on September 14, 2010. The CRA had asked the FDA to implement a name change after launching a multi-million dollar advertising and marketing campaign that argued that sugar and HFCS were identical.
Those actions set off more than a year of litigation initiated by U.S. sugar farmers and refiners, who are trying to stop the CRA’s campaign. That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
“The FDA’s ruling represents a victory for American consumers,” said Dan Callister, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation. “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.”
According to the FDA letter announcing its denial of the petition, “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.”
Second, the FDA stated, “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 FDA decision went on to say that granting the CRA petition could endanger consumer health. “Corn sugar has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption, who have been advised to avoid ingredients that contain fructose,” Michael M. Landa, Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in the letter to Erickson. “Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.”
To read the full FDA letter click here.