Corn refiners hit airwaves in last ditch attempt to save HFCS

Posted by
May 29, 2012

In a last-ditch attempt to keep the high fructose corn syrup flowing, despite another recent flood of bad press, Corn Refiners Association (CRA) president Audrae Erickson has gone on a broadcast media tour dispensing diet advice, discussing the many “attributes” of HFCS, and dropping the “corn sugar” name as many times as possible.

Erickson, introduced to “shed some light on what to look for when it comes to food labels” on the NBC Cleveland affiliate’s Good Company show, surrounded herself with toast and jam, cereal and chocolate milk, and proceeded to rattle off  CRA propaganda, as well as slipping in some big-time misinformation under of the guise of cheery mom-to-mom advice.

According to Erickson, all is good in the land of HFCS, and what really counts is “calories in,  calories out.”

Despite the rosy picture Erickson paints of HFCS, studies and recent headlines tell a different story. And when the corn refiners don’t like what they see from the press, they resort to other tactics.

As I reported last week, a UCLA-generated press release about a new study on fructose was the subject of a harassment campaign to change its wording by CRA director of communications David Knowles. The aggressive corn-PR representative called “multiple people on campus and made such a pest of himself that we made the changes (in the release),” a contact at the UCLA press office revealed.

FDA request ignored in “corn sugar” namedropping

The PR effort continued with Erickson’s media appearances (which included no “opposition” viewpoint), starting with her evasive response to a  Fox News New York interviewer’s question,“first, let’s talk about your relationship with the product…”  Rather than answering that, she went directly into her scripted routine that “high fructose corn syrup is truly just a sugar made from corn,” referring to what we here at Food Identity Theft call the “corn sugar hoax,” a rebranding effort by the CRA to have high fructose corn syrup referred to as “corn sugar” on food labels.

This attempt to conceal HFCS in foods and beverages was “officially” presented in 2010 in the form of a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has yet to be ruled on. And despite consumer opposition running at 100 to 1 against the “corn sugar” name change scam, the CRA is going full steam and dollars ahead with its ad campaign. Along with consumer outrage, last fall, a letter from the FDA to the CRA  released by the Associated Press asked the corn refiners to stop using “corn sugar” as a synonym for HFCS and to “re-examine your websites and modify statement that use the term.”

Erickson, nevertheless, managed to slip in “corn sugar” three times during the Fox interview and use the still unauthorized term all of seven times in the course of her routine in Cleveland.

The CRA ad campaign is also the subject of a pending lawsuit filed by sugar growers and refiners alleging that the CRA and its member companies conspired to “deceive the public” about HFCS.

While it’s somewhat amusing to watch Big Corn’s most engaging spokesperson attempt to rally whatever consumer support for HFCS might still be salvageable, such opportunities to score media points without any “counterpoint” from an expert to refute them amounts to nothing more than free airtime for industry propaganda.

Despite Erickson’s statement that HFCS is just “a natural sugar,” the facts are that:

  • HFCS is not sugar. Real sugar can only come from sugar cane or sugar beets.
  • HFCS is not “natural.” Regardless of how many times the CRA claims it is, HFCS is decidedly not a “natural” ingredient, but rather a man-made, highly processed, laboratory-created concoction.
  • HFCS contains varying amounts of fructose, despite the CRA’s claim that it’s actually low in  fructose. Tests have shown fructose levels in HFCS-sweetened beverages to be as high as 65 percent, and as high as 90 percent in another variety that may be used in diet items.
  • HFCS is not “corn sugar.” Corn sugar is already a recognized ingredient that contains NO fructose!

If there’s one thing we agree with Erickson on, it’s her comment that “today consumers want to know what’s in their foods.” If that sounds like you, then click here and take two minutes to tell the FDA that you don’t want high fructose corn syrup concealed on food labels as “corn sugar.” You can copy and paste some sample messages from this page, or compose one of your own.

Yes, we sure do want to know what it is we’re eating – and not be confused by having an ingredient like high fructose corn syrup listed as something that it’s not.