Sugar — or should I say The Sugar Association — can breathe easy. Consumers who actually bother to look at the ingredients' list on a food package won’t have to worry about high fructose corn syrup masquerading as sugar anytime soon. If the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) had gotten its way, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) would have been called corn sugar on the ingredients' list.
Two years ago, the CRA petitioned the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for the name change. Why? HFCS was responding to a public backlash. HFCS was seen as unnatural as interest in organic and whole foods gained momentum. In an ironic twist of events, sugar — which had been considered unhealthy for a long time — suddenly became desirable (or at least the more desirable option) because it’s considered natural.
It seemed as if the CRA decided that if the group couldn’t convince healthy food advocates that the product was healthy, they would try to confuse them by using the word sugar. In requesting the name change, the CRA claimed on its website it was actually trying to clear up confusion by calling HFCS what it should have been called all along, “corn sugar.” It seemed to me that what was really happening was that the CRA was trying to reclaim lost consumers by making them think the ingredient was no longer in certain foods.
Yesterday, the FDA shot down the name change and rejected the notion that the term high fructose corn syrup confused consumers. The FDA said the name change would confuse consumers because sugar is considered “a solid, dried, and crystallized food; whereas syrup is an aqueous solution or liquid food.” They also said that corn sugar is already the name used for dextrose, and people could be confused by the name change. In addition, those with “hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption” who eat dextrose could be at risk if they mistakenly thought the HFCS corn sugar was the same as dextrose corn sugar.
So for now, high fructose corn syrup will be keeping its name. I’m sure the CRA is already looking for a new way to disassociate itself with the term high fructose corn syrup.
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