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Consumer group calls HFCS corn sugar campaign ‘food identity theft’

4 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 28-Oct-2011

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.

4 comments (Comments are now closed)

Stupidity Strikes Again

Another group lacking the scientific evidence to support their claims continues to perpetuate a state of fear to advance their agenda. CFH produce peer reviewed scientific evidence of your claims. HFCS is a sugar plain and simple. HFCS is not a synthetic molecule like sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin but it is considered unnatural. Peer reviewed scientific data must be used to determine policy by FDA not Special Intrest Groups perpetuating fear by "popular science" ignorance.

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Posted by Neil Guidry
14 November 2011 | 16h46

Not Fraud

HFCS is indeed corn sugar and therefore both names should be able to be used. Those of you who disagree that HFCS is not corn sugar need to understand that HFCS is the natural sugars that are extracted from the corn kernal. Corn is mostly starch and water, and starch is mostly sugars, therefore corn sugar is also a proper name for HFCS

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Posted by Meaty
02 November 2011 | 16h28

CFH also guilty

Unless the CFH can cite GOOD research to support their claim that HFCS is a problem they are also guilty of food identity theft. If they are basing their fears and the information they are giving to the public from the research on just fructose as an independent nutrient that is false logic. They have created a sense of fear around HFCS that is not based on facts and their statement that millions of people are trying to avoid HFCS is the verification of that. There are other examples over the years of these same issues - poor research creates panic and a substance that has not been demonstrated to be dangerous has a fear attached to it and the public is misinformed. Saccharine comes to mind. Consumers are often not experienced in judging the research and will instead pay attention to who "yells" the loudest. Fear of competition should not be a valid reason to prevent the name change, nor should irrational fear based on non-science.

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Posted by Wendy Repovich
28 October 2011 | 20h23

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