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No Name Change for Corn Syrup

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

There was nothing sweet about the fight between sugar (made from cane or beets) and high fructose corn syrup that’s now ended in a loss for corn syrup [“For Sweeteners, A Bitter Battle,” April 5, 2012].

Manufacturers of corn syrup, which is ubiquitous in edibles from baked goods to juices, had petitioned the federal Food and Drug Administration to be allowed to change the name of the product from corn syrup to corn sugar. The move to change the name apparently started because consumers, conscious of the growing number of oversweetened foods that are contributing to epidemics of obesity and diabetes, were beginning to avoid items with high-fructose corn syrup as a named ingredient (the average American consumes about 63 pounds of the stuff each year).

But the FDA has now denied the petition on the grounds that the name change could be dangerously misleading for people whose systems react badly to fructose.  “Corn sugar [already the name for a solid sugar made from corn] has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption,” the agency said. “Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.”

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