September 15th, 2011

Official slams corn syrup rebranding

Associated Press

A recent attempt by the corn industry to change the name of a widely used but increasingly controversial sweetener was misleading and could have robbed consumers of important information, a top official at the Food and Drug Administration said in documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The comments came last year as the Corn Refiners Association sought clarity over whether it could change the name of high fructose corn syrup to just “corn syrup.” That informal request was subsequently withdrawn and in September 2010, the group filed a formal petition seeking a more radical name change: “corn sugar.”

The corn industry is attempting an image makeover for high fructose corn syrup after some scientists linked it to obesity and other health problems and some food companies started touting products that did not contain the ingredient. High fructose corn syrup is present in most sodas and a staggering array of processed foods.

In response to the Corn Refiners Association’s request to use the term “corn syrup,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, told colleagues he was uncomfortable with changing the name and suggested that allowing it would deprive consumers of important information and invite ridicule.

“It would be affirmatively misleading to change the name of the ingredient after all this time, especially in light of the controversy surrounding it,” Taylor told colleagues in an email dated March 15, 2010. “If we allow it, we will rightly be mocked both on the substance of the outcome and the process through which it was achieved.”

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