The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a petition by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to rename high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) “corn sugar.”
The FDA said it defines sugar as a “solid, dried and crystallized food,” not a solution or liquid food, and that the name corn sugar could confuse consumers or even pose a potential health danger, for those who are fructose-intolerant.
In a response statement, CRA president Audrae Erickson said that the FDA had rejected the petition on “narrow, technical grounds,” and asserted that the agency “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.”
CRA contends that most Americans wrongly assume that HFCS has more calories or is processed/metabolized differently by the human body than regular table sugar, although its chemical makeup is nearly identical to table sugar’s.
Research on the issue of the two substances’ effects on the body has been conflicting. The American Medical Association has stated that more research is needed. The nonprofit consumer nutrition advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest has said that the evidence thus far indicates that HFCS is no worse for bodily health than sugar, but has also stressed that Americans consume far too much of both sweeteners.
While it was waiting for the FDA to make a decision on its name petition, CRA launched a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign addressing what it terms “myths” about HFCS; that campaign uses the term “corn sugar,” as well as high fructose corn syrup.
A federal lawsuit by The Sugar Association against CRA, maintaining that CRA’s marketing campaign is misleading, is still pending in a Los Angeles court. The Sugar Association asserted that the FDA’s rejection of the “corn sugar” name supports its contention that sugar and HFCS are distinct products.