The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the Corn Refiners Association can’t start using the term “corn sugar” instead of “high fructose corn syrup” on food labels and ingredient lists. With HFCS—a liquid sweetener derived from corn that’s added to processed food ranging from cereal and bread to yogurt and lunch meat—often blamed as one of the drivers of America’s weight problems, the CRA ostensibly thought “corn sugar” sounded a little bit better; the group petitioned the FDA about the name change in September 2010. In an official letter this week, the FDA ruled against the petition.
The first problem with the petition, according to FDA, is that the term “sugar” is intended for substances that are solid, dried or crystallized; HFCS is none of these. Rather, it is an aqueous substance.
Secondly, another substance, dextrose monohydrate, is already known on labels as “corn sugar,” and has been for 30 years, the FDA said.
Don’t think this is the end of the corn sugar meme, however. Separately, the CRA has been running an ad campaign featuring “real America” types (farmers, moms) who talk about how sugar and corn syrup are the same thing, nutritionally, and how corn sugar is “just fine in moderation.” [The commercials have spawned quite a few parodies, including the one below.]
The Sugar Association is also putting up a fight against this one, claiming that the CRA’s ad campaign is misleading because sugar and high-fructose corn syrup really are distinct things. ”What’s going on here is basically a con game to suggest otherwise,” Dan Callister, a lawyer for the Sugar Association, told USA Today. “What do con men do? They normally try to change their name. The FDA has thankfully stopped that.”