The U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears to be expanding its authority again, and it isa bit of a sticky situation. This time FDA scrutiny is focused on the legal label of what used to be called “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. For more than a year now, the Corn Refiners Association, in an effort to (we think) make consumers feel safer about consuming food products containing high fructose corn syrup, has launched a public relations program to christen high fructose corn syrup with a new name. But it appears dubbing the substance “Corn Sugar” isn’t as easy as printing new labels.
With growing concerns in many quarters, such as the American medical, health and insurance communities, over the state of obesity and diabetes in children and adults today—and the belief that the consumption of high fructose corn syrup is certainly a contributing factor to obesity–the FDA is treating the proposed name change more like subterfuge than P.R. Indeed, it has inferred that the change smacks of false advertising. According to the Associated Press in an article appearing in syndicated papers September 19, 2011, “The Food and Drug Administration has cautioned the corn industry over its ongoing use of the term “corn sugar” to describe high fructose corn syrup, asking them to stop using the proposed new name before it has received regulatory approval.” (“Jumping the Gun?”, The Daily News Record, September 19, 2011, p. B6.)
The Corn Refiners Association has been using “corn sugar” on TV in commercials and on several websites, including cornsugar.com and sweetsurprise.com. To further cloud the issue, the Corn Refiners have been using the two terms interchangeably, it seems, and now the FDA wants the last word, maintaining that food labeling must consist of clearly understood nutritional information. But will it be syrup or sugar?
The scientific community is divided on whether corn syrup is more detrimental to human health than regular sugar. The American Medical Association says, “there’s not enough evidence to restrict the use of high fructose corn syrup” and more research is needed. For years, diet gurus and diet books have espoused eating less sugar is healthier. Meanwhile, the FDA will continue its review and deliberation over whether the name change from high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar is permissible. In a landmark, possibly bipartisan, move by seven