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Sugar companies sue over "high fructose corn syrup" rebranding

Sugar companies in Michigan make their products from sugar beets.
Rodney Burton
creative commons
Sugar companies in Michigan make their products from sugar beets.

There's long been a tug of war between corn growers and sugar refiners over who can get their sweetener into more products. Reuters reports that high fructose corn syrup has been gaining on sugar lately because of higher sugar prices.

Now, sugar growers are suing over a ad campaign that is trying to change the image of high fructose corn syrup.

Michigan Sugar Company has joined a lawsuit against corn processors who are trying to rebrand high-fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar."

From the Associated Press:

A group of sugar farmers and refiners has filed a lawsuit against several corn processors and their lobbying group for their effort to rebrand high-fructose corn syrup as "corn sugar". The Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Company Inc. are asking the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to end the corn industry campaign that markets high-fructose corn syrup as a natural product that is equivalent to sugar. They say the campaign constitutes false advertising, and are seeking compensation for lost profits and corrective advertising. The corn industry says the case has no merit. High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener used in products including soda, cereal, bread and ketchup. Americans' consumption of corn syrup fell to a 20-year low last year as concerns grow about its health and environmental impact. Most health experts say sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same.

The Corn Refiners Association put together a website dedicated to changing the image of high fructose corn syrup.

Reuters reports how the lawsuit started quoting Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association:

The Corn Refiners Association has asked federal regulators to allow HFCS to be called "corn sugar." But the lawsuit says the defendants "jumped the gun" and started using the term before receiving approval. Erickson said the Corn Refiners Association will "vigorously" defend its right to petition for the name change with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "We stand by the message in our ads and the science behind it," Erickson said. The case in U.S. District Court, Central District of California is Western Sugar Cooperative et al. v. Archer Daniels Midland Co et al, 11-3473.

The CEO of Western Sugar Cooperative, Inder Mathur said the lawsuit "is about false advertising, pure and simple."

Mark Brush was the station's Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.