Consumers groups (again) petition FDA to refuse ‘corn sugar’ moniker for HFCS

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Consumers groups (again) petition FDA to refuse ‘corn sugar’ moniker for HFCS

Related tags: ‘corn sugar, High-fructose corn syrup, Corn refiners association

A coalition of consumer groups has written to the FDA urging it to “act decisively” and refuse the Corn Refiners Association’s petition to allow ‘corn sugar’ as an alternative name for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on ingredient lists.

The organizations joined together last year to submit comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opposing the Corn Refiners’ petition, claiming that allowing ‘corn sugar’ as an alternative name for the sweetener could mislead consumers. Signatories of this latest letter, addressed to FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, are the National Consumers League, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, and Shape Up America!.

The groups said that nearly 5,000 comments sent to the FDA oppose the name change at a ratio of 100:1. The FDA has yet to make a decision about the use of the term ‘corn sugar’.

Executive director of the National Consumers League Sally Greenberg said: “The FDA has a statutory responsibility to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to exercise free choice in the marketplace without being misled by confusing name changes designed to hide the identity of a controversial ingredient.”

The CRA responded in an emailed statement: “It is a myth that the “corn sugar” petition is designed to conceal the presence of HFCS in foods.   In addition to the CRA’s extensive public educational efforts, if FDA grants the petition, there would potentially be a period of co-labeling of the two terms on ingredient labels to further educate consumers.”

The CRA, which represents the interests of the corn refining industry, repeatedly has said that the term ‘high fructose’ is confusing to consumers, because the most commonly used varieties of HFCS are not high in fructose.

 “’Corn sugar’ provides more clarity to consumers about the ingredient and would help people watch their overall intake of added sugars, from whatever source,”​ the CRA said.

However, the consumer groups argue the agency should deny the petition because of the number of comments it has received opposing the alternative name.

“Given the thousands of comments opposing the CRA petition and the continued misleading use of the term ‘corn sugar’ in marketing, FDA should act decisively and deny the CRA petition,”​ said director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America Chris Waldrop.

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6 comments

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Democratic Rulemaking

Posted by J. Schindler,

I think all FDA decisions ought to be made "American Idol" style - we can vote by phone, text etc. After all, the general public has far more knowledge about these matters than those PhD's at FDA.

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New name for HFCS

Posted by DJ,

I think the name should be changed to HPCC (highly processed corn crap). That would alert people who are allergic to corn, and the people who want to avoid HFCS, because they believe it's not healthy.

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Sugar by Any Other Name....

Posted by William L. Wilson, M.D.,

It is now clear that all combinations of fructose and glucose including sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are chronic toxins. It doesn't matter what you call them because they all lead to the same adverse metabolic effects.

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