Lobbyists Want to Re-Brand High-Fructose Corn Syrup as Corn Sugar

Image: Andrew Butko

The Corn Refiners Association is petitioning the FDA to rename the much-maligned high-fructose corn syrup to corn sugar. HFCS has come under scrutiny recently because of studies showing that the body metabolizes it into fat more easily than other sweeteners. From the LA Times:

When trying to decide on a new name, the refiners group surveyed more than 1,200 consumers to see which they liked better. The other options were “corn sweetener” and “corn nectar.”

Corn sugar “best communicates that consumers understand it has the same calories as sugar, the same sweetness as sugar and about the same fructose level,” said trade group president Audrae Erickson. The decision to offer manufacturers an alternative name to use was prompted by consumers, not consumer product makers, but she acknowledged approval from the FDA would have a “spillover benefit” for food companies.

The FDA doesn’t make such changes lightly, and Erickson said it could take up to two years for a decision.

There has been one name change approved by the FDA that made it a lot easier for consumers who inspect the side of a box for ingredients. Canola oil used to be called “low erucic acid rapeseed oil.”

I bet the FDA will accommodate the name-change request. To some extent, the effort will also work, the same way pushing antioxidants in cereal and whole grains in bread inflate their healthfulness. When consumers perceive that a product has health benefits (or at least isn’t a health detriment), sales will stay up. Corn growers can keep producing without fear of their demonized ingredient slowing demand.

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Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.