The truth about the dangers of high-fructose corn syrup has reached critical mass, and has The Corn Refiners Association running scared.
High-fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener in virtually everything on grocery store shelves, including soda, cereal, bread, ketchup, and Gatorade. But Americans’ consumption of corn syrup fell to a 20-year low last year as concerns grow about its health and environmental impact.
To mitigate the public relations damage, The Corn Refiners Association sought permission from the federal government last year to use the name “corn sugar” on food labels instead of high-fructose corn syrup, and although the FDA could take years to decide, the industry used the term in advertising anyway.
Using lush, tall green corn fields as a backdrop, and a warm theme song played on an acoustic guitar, The Corn Refiners Association has been running pro-corn syrup propaganda ads claiming high-fructose corn syrup is nutritionally the same as sugar. They’ve even created their own dis-information websites and blogs like CornSugar.com, and SweetSurprise.com and Sweet Spot Blog.
Now the Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Company Inc. have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against several corn processors and their lobbying group.
Sugar farmers and refiners want the corn industry to stop marketing high-fructose corn syrup as a natural product, claiming it’s the same as sugar. They say the campaign constitutes false advertising and seek compensation for lost profits and corrective advertising.
Companies named as defendants include powerful global agri-giants like Archer Daniels Midland Co., and Cargill Inc., as well as Corn Products International Inc., Penford Products Co., Roquette America, Inc., Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas Inc. and the companies’ marketing and lobbying organization, The Corn Refiners Association Inc.
“This suit is about false advertising, pure and simple,” said Inder Mathur, President and CEO of Western Sugar Cooperative, which represents American sugar beet farmers. “If consumers are concerned about your product, then you should improve it or explain its benefits, not try to deceive people about its name or distort scientific facts.”
The Corn Refiners Association argues that the industry only hopes to clear up confusion about its role in the food and beverages Americans consume, and educate consumers about their product.
“The name ‘corn sugar’ more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food products labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike,” says Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
While everyone should consume less of all sugars, some so-called experts, along with The Corn Refiners Association, are making patently false claims that high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically the same.
While the calories may remain the same, high fructose corn syrup or HFCS is a corn-based, liquid form of sugar that has an entirely different effect on the human body.
By itself, fructose requires a different metabolic pathway in order to be metabolized because it skips the regular metabolism of carbohydrates or glycolysis. “As a result, the fructose becomes a source of ‘acetyl CoA’ in its unregulated form which, when combined with unstimulated leptin lavels, can lead to substantial fat deposits.”
The consumption of HFCS is linked to an increase in weight gain (more than with table sugar), insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, in 2009, researchers at Georgia State University determined diets high in fructose (found in most processed foods and beverages) impaired the spatial memory of adult rats.
Princeton researchers discovered that rats which had access to high fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to basic table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.