HFCS Makers Countersue Sugar Association

Four of the country’s biggest refiners of high-fructose corn syrup filed a lawsuit Sept. 4 against the Sugar Association claiming the group "deceiv[ed] consumers into believing that processed sugar is safer and more healthful than high-fructose corn syrup, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the two forms of sugar are nutritionally equivalent."

It’s actually a countersuit to a Sugar Association lawsuit from April 2011, filed at a time that the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) was petitioning FDA to change the name high-fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar.” The Sept. 4 suit was filed by Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Ingredion Inc. (formerly named Corn Products Intl.) and Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas Inc., all members of CRA.

"The Sugar Association has made numerous 'false and misleading representations that processed sugar is different from high fructose corn syrup in ways that are beneficial to consumers' health,' the counterclaim states. The Sugar Association preys on consumers' fears by falsely representing that high-fructose corn syrup causes a number of health issues, including obesity, ‘while at the same time creating a health halo for processed sugar,'" a CRA statement said.

“The Sugar Association has worked to perpetuate the myth that high-fructose corn syrup uniquely contributes to obesity and other health problems, preying on consumers' food fears and diverting attention away from the real issue – that Americans should reduce their consumption of all added sugars and calories in general.”

The counterclaim is part of the corn refining industry’s response to an April 2011 lawsuit brought by the Sugar Association and processed sugar manufacturers “that is intended to prevent the CRA from educating consumers on the widely accepted fact that high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar are nutritionally equivalent,” CRA said. “The counterclaim states that the Sugar Association is hoping its false statements cause food and beverage manufacturers to replace high fructose corn syrup with processed sugar.”

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