Corn Refiners respond to lawsuit

The sugar industry has filed a lawsuit against several corn processors and their lobbying group for their effort to rebrand high-fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar”.

In an attempt to end the campaign that markets high-fructose corn syrup as a natural product that is equivalent to sugar, the Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Company and C&H Sugar Company are taking the case to the District Court in Los Angeles. The corn industry says the campaign is about education, not marketing.

Companies named as defendants include Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cargill, Inc., Corn Products International, Inc., Penford Products Co., Roquette America, Inc., Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas, Inc. and the companies’ marketing and lobbying organization, The Corn Refiners Assn. (CRA). The sugar producers seek an injunction to end the advertising campaign and also seek damages, including compensation for corrective advertising.

Audrae Erickson, president of CRA made comments concerning the case. Here are some of her comments:

“Sugar is sugar. High fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent; experts have supported this claim, including the American Dietetic Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.*

“The name ‘corn sugar’ more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike. The Corn Refiners Association petitioned the Food & Drug Administration in September 2010 to more succinctly and accurately describe what this natural ingredient is and where it comes from—corn.

“High fructose corn syrup makes many healthy foods palatable and affordable for American consumers. It is disappointing that another sweetener would sue the competition for its own gain – and stand in the way of consumer clarity about added sugars in the diet.

“Simply, this lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend our right to petition the FDA to clear up consumer confusion about the name.

“We stand by the message in our ads and the science behind it.”

* Sources:
The American Dietetic Association: “High fructose corn syrup … is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories (4 per gram) and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.” Hot Topics paper on High Fructose Corn Syrup, December 2008