Corn Syrup Makers Denied Use of Term ‘Corn Sugar’ in Ads

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Cargill Inc. and other makers of high-fructose corn syrup can’t call their product “corn sugar” in advertisements, U.S. regulators said.

“Use of the term ‘sugar’ to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties,” Michael Landa, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a letter denying the industry’s petition. Regulations permit use of the term “sugar” only to describe “solid, dried and crystallized” foods, he said.

The Corn Refiners Association, which represents syrup producers, asked the FDA in September 2010 to approve “corn sugar” as a term for corn syrup. U.S. Sugar Corp. and other sugar processors sued the corn-syrup makers in federal court to stop an ad campaign saying “your body can’t tell the difference” between granular sugar, or sucrose, and corn syrup.

The FDA in its letter yesterday denied the industry’s petition on “narrow, technical grounds,” Audrae Erickson, the president of the Corn Refiners Association, said in a statement. “They did not address or question the overwhelming scientific evidence that high fructose corn syrup is a form of sugar and is nutritionally the same as other sugars.”

Members of the Corn Refiners Association include Decatur, Illinois-based ADM and closely held Cargill, based in Minneapolis.

“The FDA’s ruling represents a victory for American consumers,” Dan Callister, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the syrup makers, said in a statement. “It reaffirms what most consumer advocates, health experts and policy officials have been saying all along: only sugar is sugar.”

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