Will this syrup, by any other name, taste as sweet? And have as many calories? While interesting, these will not be the most pressing of the questions facing the FDA, now that the agency has been asked by lobbyists to change the name of high fructose corn syrup. Producers of the beleaguered product would like to change its name to "corn sugar." High fructose corn syrup is used in sodas, bread, cereal and many other foods.
The Associated Press reports that the Corn Refiners Association has asked the FDA to approve the name change for use on food labels. Approval of a name change can take as long as two years, but that is not preventing the producers from using the name in new online and TV advertising campaigns. The new ads claim "whether it's corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. Sugar is sugar."
Under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, the FDA is responsible for overseeing labels on most prepared food. Labeling on fresh foods is voluntary.
The Corn Refiners Association hopes the name change will help consumers better 'understand' an ingredient producers feel has been maligned. "It has been highly disparaged and highly misunderstood," Audrae Erickson, president of the Association told the AP. In some ways, those on the other side of the argument seem to agree. "Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same, and there's no evidence that the sweetener is any worse for the body than sugar," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
It all comes down to how much we take in, but where it is found can be anybody's guess. Even if the "corn sugar" is the same as regular sugar, consumers can find it in food products they would usually not think includes a sweetener. One parent told the AP she found high fructose corn syrup listed as an ingredient in pickles, English muffins and sliced bread.
The AP reports that no matter what the name, Americans are slowly moving in the right direction. The average American ate 35.7 pounds of high fructose corn syrup last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's down 21 percent from 45.4 pounds, a decade before.