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Corn Industry Wanted to Rename High-Fructose Corn Syrup; FDA Said "No"

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Corn Industry Wanted to Rename High-Fructose Corn Syrup; FDA Said "No"

The FDA declined the corn industry’s wish to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup to corn sugar.

When you see the term “high-fructose corn syrup” (HFCS) in an ingredient list, it likely triggers some negative thoughts and emotions. You may even put the product back on the shelf and look for something else. Well, this is no surprise to the US corn industry (called the Corn Refiners Association), which petitioned to change the name of the much-vilified HFCS to “corn sugar.”

Why “corn sugar”?
Maybe it sounds nicer to the consumer (a bit like cane sugar or coconut palm sugar perhaps?) or maybe it’s just a less familiar term for consumers, which would lead to more confusion and likely more purchases of products that contain the ingredient. No matter the reason, the corn industry wanted an image makeover. Thankfully, however, the FDA declined their proposition last week.

Why did the FDA say no?
The FDA can agree to change the name of a product if the new name better describes the product. Marketing, on the other hand (such as an ingredient’s “image makeover”) is not the FDA’s role.

  • Sugar describes a solid, dried, and crystallized food product, whereas syrup is a liquid, so the name “syrup” is much more descriptive of HFCS than sugar.
  • Additionally, the term “corn sugar” currently implies a form of sugar called dextrose, and changing the name may confuse people and harm those with allergies.

What are the problems associated with HFCS?
HFCS is ubiquitous in packaged foods and soft drinks, despite its health risks.

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