Three Recent Victories for High Fructose Corn Syrup

A federal judge in New Jersey in June threw out a lawsuit against Snapple that claimed the use of the phrase “all natural” on the iced tea’s label was deceptive because the drink contains high fructose corn syrup. A month later, an FDA agency confirmed it would not object to the use of the term natural for HFCS.

While not endorsing HFCS, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Cooper said in her opinion it is up to the FDA, not her, to define what is considered “natural.” A Morganville, N.J., resident filed the lawsuit last year, originally in state Superior Court, on behalf of herself and all other New Jersey residents who drank Snapple in the past six years.

The complaint was that HFCS is not all-natural because of the multiple steps it takes to create it. One of the attorneys for the plaintiff said they are considering an appeal, while the Corn Refiners Assn. applauded the ruling. Read the court document here.

The Corn Refiners also publicized a letter from Geraldine June in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition that said that as long as “natural” processes, as defined by the FDA, are used to make the corn syrup, the agency would not object to a natural claim on foods using such HFCS. The letter did acknowledge it’s possible to make HFCS with processes that are not considered natural.

Read the full Corn Refiners' release here and the FDA letter here

At its annual policy-making meeting in Chicago in June, the American Medical Assn. concluded that current research does not support the belief that high fructose syrup contributes more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners.

"At this time there is insufficient evidence to restrict the use of high fructose syrup or label products that contain it with a warning," said AMA Board Member William Dolan, MD. "We do recommend consumers limit the amount of all added caloric sweeteners to no more than 32 grams of sugar daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

But the medical association did call for further independent research to be done on the health effects of high fructose syrup and other sweeteners.

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