Senator says proposed name change is designed to confuse consumers
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is sending the Food and Drug Administration a clear message: high fructose corn syrup isn’t sugar – and don’t try to pretend that it is.
High fructose corn syrup is chemically processed corn starch used to sweeten beverages and foods like soft drinks and cereals. The Corn Refiners Association is petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to change the syrup’s name to corn sugar.
Tester, the Senate’s only active farmer, said that consumers have come to understand the differences between high fructose corn syrup, whose name was established by the agency years ago, and sugar that comes from sugar beets or sugar cane.
In a recent bipartisan letter to Food and Drug Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Tester argued that changing the name would deny consumers their right to make knowledgeable choices about what ingredients they put in their bodies.
“We are concerned that if FDA were to allow companies to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to ‘corn sugar’ on food labels, it would confuse customers and mislead them,” Tester and his colleagues wrote. “We urge you to follow your science-based process for consumer protection so that consumers are able to readily identify food ingredients.”
Tester added that the proposed change could negatively impact Montana farmers and sugar beet refinery workers. With nearly 45,000 acres of sugar beets grown in Montana, Tester says he believes it’s critical for Montana’s economy and jobs to prevent the corn industry from confusing corn syrup with sugar.
Some nutrition experts also say that foods and beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contribute to a growth in childhood obesity.
Tester is joined in opposition to the Corn Refiners Association’s petition by the U.S. Beet Sugar Association, the National Consumers League, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumers Union and Citizens for Health.
“Montana’s consumers deserve the whole truth when they go to the store and look at what’s in the food they’re buying,” Tester said. “I expect swift action to deny this petition.”
Tester’s letter to Food and Drug Commissioner Hamburg is available here.