CONSUMERS WHO SCOUR food labels may have a hard time finding high fructose corn syrup, and not just because manufacturers are moving away from the ingredient.
If all goes according to the Corn Refiners Association's plan, food makers would have the option of using the replacement term “corn sugar” on products sold in the U.S.
In September, the Washington-based group, which represents the U.S. corn refining industry, applied to the Food and Drug Administration for permission to use the term in order to eliminate consumer confusion. “The words ‘high fructose’ are misleading to consumers because this ingredient is not high in fructose,” said CRA President Audrae Erickson.
But critics contend that rather than eliminate confusion, the CRA is aiming to create it, by dissociating from a term consumers have learned to avoid. Indeed, shoppers are steering clear of the sweetener. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2008, the annual high fructose corn syrup consumption per capita was continuing to decrease from its 1999 peak of 63.7 pounds per person.
Despite the controversy, Erickson is hopeful the FDA will accept the petition sometime in March and move to a formal comment period with a federal register notice.
The petition follows a 2008 public relations campaign called “Changing the Conversation about High Fructose Corn Syrup,” in which commercials state the sweetener is “made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, has the same calories as sugar and is OK to eat in moderation.”