A lawsuit filed in April by three sugar distributors in the Central District of California U.S. District Court over high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) advertising says that equating HFCS with real sugar, with slogans like ‘your body can't tell the difference,’ misleads consumers.

Sugar producers think the recent marketing efforts by manufacturers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) aren't so sweet. They accuse defendants, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., and Cargill, Minneapolis, of using the publicity campaign to offset growing customer concerns about obesity.

Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, Washington, D.C., says the lawsuit is without merit, as HFCS and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent. “Sugar is sugar,” she says. “High-fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent; experts have supported this claim, including the American Dietetic Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. We stand by the message in our ads and the science behind it.”

However, Inder Mathur, chief executive officer of Western Sugar Cooperative, Denver, Colo., one of the plaintiffs, disagrees. “This suit is about false advertising, pure and simple,” says Mathur.

The United States is the biggest consumer and manufacturer of HFCS, with soft-drink makers the largest users.

The Corn Refiners Association asked federal regulators to allow HFCS to be called “corn sugar,” but the lawsuit says the defendants “jumped the gun” and started using the term before receiving approval.

Erickson said the Corn Refiners Association will “vigorously” defend its right to petition for the name change with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Source: Corn Refiners Ass., www.reuters.com