The battle over sweeteners just got a whole lot more bitter.
As the Associated Press reports, a group of sugar farmers and refiners, including big names like C&H Sugar, have filed suit against the makers of high-fructose corn syrup. Their beef? They want the corn industry to stop trying to hawk their souped-up sweetener as "corn sugar."
As the country has watched its collective waistline get bigger and a generation of kids turn into outsized roly-polys, perhaps no product has come to be as maligned as high-fructose corn syrup. Indeed, among certain members of the Bugaboo-stroller set, feeding your kids anything that contains the super sweetener might as well be the equivalent of letting them snack on crack.
Faced with an image crisis (American consumption of high-fructose corn syrup fell to a 20-year low last year), the corn industry went on the offense, running golden-hued ads of bucolic American farmscapes that essentially touted high-fructose corn syrup as nutritionally the same as sugar and asking the federal government for permission to market the stuff accordingly as "corn sugar."
The Food and Drug Administration has yet to rule on the request, but the sugar industry isn't waiting around. It charges that corn processors are engaging in deceptive advertising that has unfairly damaged big sugar's bottom line.
"This suit is about false advertising, pure and simple," one sugar industry exec told the AP. "If consumers are concerned about your product, then you should improve it or explain its benefits, not try to deceive people about its name or distort scientific facts."
To which the president of the Corn Refiners Association essentially responded: "Sugar is sugar. High-fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent; experts have supported this claim. The name 'corn sugar' more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling."