Non-profit consumer group Citizens for Health is the latest organization to oppose the Corn Refiners Association’s petition to allow ‘corn sugar’ as an alternative label declaration for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2010 asking it to allow corn sugar as an alternative label declaration for the sweetener. It claims that the petition was made in an effort to be clear with consumers about what HFCS is: A sugar made from corn, with similar proportions of glucose and fructose to sugar (sucrose).
But Citizens for Health (CFH) claims the move is an attempt to deceive consumers, and is calling for the public to contact the FDA and put forward opinions via its new website, called Food Identity Theft .
Vice president and senior policy advisor of Citizens for Health James Gormley said: "Millions of Americans are choosing to avoid products that contain HFCS. But many don't know that the corporations that make it want to change the name high fructose corn syrup to 'corn sugar’. If the FDA were to allow this, we'd never know if it's in the foods we're feeding our families.”
The organization is also opposed to the corn refining industry’s corn sugar branding campaign for high fructose corn syrup.
Gormley added: “The high fructose corn syrup industry is spending millions trying to deceive consumers.”
However, president of the Corn Refiners Association Audrae Erickson rejected the organization’s claims.
She told FoodNavigator-USA : “CFH suggests that allowing ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS would mislead consumers as to the presence of this ingredient in the food supply. The opposite is true. In fact, CRA has widely publicized its request for an alternate name, conducting a nationwide high-profile educational campaign in connection with the petition.”
Erickson also said that the CRA is proposing corn sugar as an alternative term to HFCS, not a replacement, and it acknowledges that the FDA could require both terms to appear on labels for a reasonable period, to help educate consumers about their equivalency.
“There is strong precedent for FDA approval of alternate names under comparable circumstances, where – as here – the goal does not relate to concealing the presence of the ingredients, but to correcting consumer misunderstanding,” she said.
It is expected to take up to two years for the FDA to reach a decision on whether to allow corn sugar as an alternative to HFCS on labels.
The United States is the world’s biggest user of high fructose corn syrup, but manufacturers have been increasingly switching it out of their products in recent years in preference for beet or cane sugar, on the back of a spate of bad publicity.