Those of you who have been following more newsy food happenings have probably heard about the Corn Refiners Association‘s bid to change the term “high fructose corn syrup,” which is found on many food labels, to “corn sugar.”
They petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow them to make the change on nutritional labels, but the FDA has rejected that petition. The FDA defines sugar as a “solid, dried and crystallized food,” according to multiple news sources* reporting this decision.
High fructose corn syrup has become increasingly unpopular amid reports and opinions that it is a creepy, chemically processed Frankenfood that is unhealthy for human consumption. And a lot of folks got even more upset when they realized it’s in … well, just about *everything* we eat.
The corn refiners’ group wanted the FDA to let them change the term to “corn sugar” in order to get across the message that high fructose corn syrup is a sweetener derived from natural products and has the same nutritional value as granulated sugar. They started an advertising campaign featuring commercials such as this one, in which one mom judges another mom for feeding her kids HFCS.
Consumer groups, including Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, jumped in and urged the FDA to deny the petition.
Here’s an excerpt from a press release Consumers Union sent me:
Urvashi Rangan, PhD., the director of the Consumer Safety Group at Consumer Reports, said, “The FDA did the right thing. High fructose corn syrup is not ‘corn sugar.’ If the name had been changed, it would have given consumers the wrong impression that this product is ‘natural.’ This is a corn starch that has to be chemically processed. The term ‘corn sugar’ simply doesn’t reflect the chemical changes that take place in production. Consumers know the term high fructose corn syrup, and they should be able to easily differentiate among products that use it.”
The Corn Refiners’ Association has issued a statement saying the FDA denied their petition on “narrow, technical grounds,” – that is, by saying it’s a syrup, not a solid crystallized substance. The statement went on to say, “The fact remains–which FDA did not challenge–that the vast majority of American consumers are confused about HFCS. Consumers have the right to know what is in their foods and beverages in simple, clear language that enables them to make well-informed dietary decisions.”
Hmmmm … well, now, you could interpret that assertion in more ways than one.
Anybody got thoughts about this development?
* CBS News, USA Today, Fox, Huffington Post, yada yada.