Tell the FDA what you think about calling HFCS corn sugar!

Posted by
September 20, 2011

If you’ve always wanted to give the FDA a piece of you mind, now is the time.

As I mentioned in my first blog, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar” back in September of last year. With all the buzz on the Internet, to date there are only 127 posted public submissions on the FDA’s web site.

As the last update seems to have been posted in July, I called the FDA to ask how many they’ve received since then, but haven’t yet gotten a clear response on how many more there are and when they will get online.

Numbers aside, if you haven’t sent in a comment yet, get going and let the FDA know your feelings on this (click here to go to the FDA web site to comment). You don’t have to have a degree in chemistry or be an attorney to give your opinion.  The CRA claims that we consumers are “confused” by the name “high fructose corn syrup” and to clear up that confusion, they must be allowed to (legally) call HFCS “corn sugar.” I say “legally” because they’ve already started the switcheroo, spending millions of dollars of advertising to really confuse us.

So what are people saying?

I’ve started reading through the posted comments at the FDA site, regulations.gov. The vast majority of folks are flat out against allowing this name change game to succeed, and one of my favorites is from the CRA itself!

CRA disagrees with the comments by Shape Up America!, the National Consumers League, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and Marion Nestle, Ph.D.

The Consumers Union are the publishers of Consumer Reports ®, and Marion Nestle, Ph.D is frequently quoted BY the Corn Refiners Association most notably on the “Experts” page of their Sweet Surprise site.

It goes on to say the name switch would be “meaningful” to consumers, and would promote, rather than impede, fair competition among sweeteners. This is a “competition?”

Part of Marion Nestle’s comment to the FDA says: “…the name change is not in the public interest. Its only purpose is to further the commercial interests of members of the Corn Refiners, and that is not one the FDA should be concerned about.”

The Consumer Union has this to say: “Consumers Union strongly opposes this petition. Such a change would confuse, if not mislead consumers to believe that ‘corn sugar’ was naturally occurring in corn and simply extracted as a sugar…particularly misleading in products labeled as ‘natural.'”

HFCS, by the way, is a man-made ingredient that is created in a laboratory.

Other consumer comments were a bit less polite, such as “Call it what it is! HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRYP!!!!”  Another respondent noted that: “Contrary to the assertion in the petition, this requested name change is a blatant attempt to confuse and mislead consumers…Please deny this petition and do not allow HFCS to be relabeled as corn sugar. Corn growers and HFCS producers are engaging in a cynical and self-serving attempt to put lipstick on their pig of a product.”

And then there was this: “The Corn Refiners Association, no doubt upset by the consumer backlash against high fructose corn syrup, has a simple solution to their problem. They want to rename HFCS ‘corn sugar.’ That way, all of those silly consumers will read the label, see no HFCS, and they won’t know that they are eating HFCS even though they don’t want to. This is, of course, outrageous…”

A practicing physician commented: “It is outrageous to me that this deception would be allowed in our democratic nation. The American people deserve better!”

This comment is my personal favorite: “Unless there is a better reason to change the name other than to boost HFCS’s image, please do not allow this change. If you do, then let’s allow lactose to be milk sugar, honey to be flower sugar, maple syrup tree sugar”.

Hopefully the FDA will be posting additional comments, and hopefully those will include some from readers of this blog. Here’s the link again to add your voice to this issue.

I’m still waiting to hear back from the FDA, I’ll keep you posted.