Consumer Groups Urge FDA to Deny 'Corn Sugar' Petition

In an April 17 letter sent to the FDA, the National Consumers League, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and Shape Up America! called on the agency to “promptly deny” the Corn Refiners Association's (CRA) petition to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to “corn sugar.”

The groups told the FDA that nearly 5,000 comments submitted to the agency oppose the name change on a ratio of 100:1. The consumer organizations’ letter also states that FDA’s failure to promptly deny the CRA petition allows the trade association to continue to run what they claim are “deceptive” marketing campaigns calling HFCS “corn sugar,” and confuses consumers who wish to avoid the ingredient.

“The FDA has a statutory responsibility to ensure that consumers have the opportunity to exercise free choice in the marketplace without being misled by confusing name changes designed to hide the identity of a controversial ingredient,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.

The groups claim FDA warned CRA last year not to encourage its members to use the term “corn sugar” to refer to HFCS while the association’s petition is pending, but did not formally deny the petition.

“The FDA’s warning letter to the CRA is a step in the right direction, but the term ‘corn sugar’ continues to appear in national advertising within the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission. The FDA should ensure that it and the FTC can stop such deceptive advertising by formally denying the CRA petition,” said Urvashi Rangan, director of consumer safety and sustainability at Consumers Union.

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