Sugarcane farmers and processors in south Louisiana are celebrating Thursday after the Food and Drug Administration denied a request by the Corn Refiners Association to rename high-fructose corn syrup “corn sugar,” a designation the sugar folks say was merely a transparent bid to confuse consumers. The FDA ruling came following a 20-month review of the request, which was presented in September 2010. The request was met with a lawsuit filed by U.S. sugar farmers against the CRA — a case that is still pending in federal district court in California.
An attorney for the sugar farmers is commending the FDA on its ruling: “The FDA’s ruling represents a victory for American consumers,” says Dan Callister. “It reaffirms what most consumer advocates, health experts and policy officials have been saying all along: only sugar is sugar. HFCS is not sugar. The next step is for the federal court to end the CRA’s misleading propaganda campaign.”
The federal food-safety agency’s ruling against the corn lobby noted that not only is “corn sugar” a misleading name for HFCS, the proposed designation could also have posed a public-health risk: “Corn sugar has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption, who have been advised to avoid ingredients that contain fructose,” writes Michael M. Landa, Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in the letter to the CRA announcing the denial. “Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.”