Would high fructose corn syrup by any other name be as sweet? American sugar farmers don’t think so.
They have filed a suit to stop corn processors from marketing high-fructose corn syrup as “sugar.” However, the Corn Refiners Associations says “corn sugar” is an accurate name for the sweetener.
The suit, filed late last week in the U.S. District Court in Los Angles by Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Co., charges that the “corn sugar” branding campaign constitutes false advertising under federal and state law.
Companies named as defendants include: Archer Daniels Midland Co.; Cargill, Inc.; Corn Products International, Inc.; Penford Products Co., Roquette America Inc., Tate & Lyle Ingredient Americas, Inc. and the companies’ marketing and lobbying organization, the Corn Refiners Associations, Inc.
“The suit is about false advertising, pure and simple,” explains Inder Mather, president and ceo of Western Sugar Cooperative. “If consumers are concerned about your product, then you should improve it or explain the benefits, not try to deceive people about its name or distort scientific facts.”
Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association counters that “sugar is sugar.”
“High fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent,” she explains. “Experts have supported this claim, including the American Dietetic Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Erickson also says that the name “corn sugar” more accurately describes the sweetener.
“[It] helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike,” she says. “The Corn Refiners Association petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in September 2010 to more succinctly and accurately describe what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from - corn.”
She says the lawsuit is without merit and that her association stands by the message in its ads and the science behind it.
The sugar producers are seeking an injunction to end the advertising campaign and also seek damages, including compensation for corrective advertising.
For more information on the Western Sugar Cooperative, visit www.westernsugar.com and for more information about the Corn Refiners Association, visit www.corn.org.