Following a request by Senator Jon Tester, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that high-fructose corn syrup cannot be called "corn sugar."
Unlike sugar that comes from sugar beets or sugar cane, high fructose corn syrup is chemically processed corn starch used to sweeten beverages and foods. The Corn Refiners Association petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to change the syrup's name to "corn sugar."
Tester, the Senate's only farmer, told the FDA in November that renaming high fructose corn syrup as corn sugar would deny Montanans their right to make knowledgeable choices about what ingredients they purchase for their families.
"We are concerned that if FDA were to allow companies to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to "corn sugar' on food labels, it would mislead consumers," Tester wrote FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "We urge you to follow your science-based process for consumer protection so that consumers are able to readily identify food ingredients."
In its ruling, the FDA highlighted that its guidelines require sugar to be "solid, dried, and crystallized food." High fructose corn syrup is a liquid.
"Montanans deserve the whole truth when they go to the store and look at what's in the food they're buying," Tester said. "I appreciate the FDA standing up for consumers and supporting Montana's hard-working sugar beet growers."
With nearly 45,000 acres of sugar beet crops grown in Montana, Tester said that the name change would have specifically hurt Montana's farmers and sugar beet refinery workers.
Some nutrition experts also say that foods and beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup contribute to rising childhood obesity.
Tester was joined in opposition to the name change by the U.S. Beet Sugar Association, the National Consumers League, the Consumer Federation of America, and the Consumers Union.
Tester is a third generation dry land grain farmer from Big Sandy.
The Honorable Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.
Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
Re: Petition for Alternate Name for High Fructose Com Syrup (FDA-2010-P-0491)
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,
We are writing to express our concem about a petition filed by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to change the name of "high fructose corn syrup" (HFCS) to "corn sugar." Our constituents who grow andlor process sugar cane and sugar beets strongly oppose the pending petition. This issue could adversely impact those farmers and refinery workers along with everyone else in our states who, after all, arc consumers.
Years ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in response to a request from the corn refiners, established through regulation the longstanding name for this product, "high fructose corn syrup." It is the name by which consumers now identiff HFCS as an ingredient in foods. Conversely, for hundreds of years "sugar" has been known to the public as the product of sugar beets or sugar cane, technically "sucrose." We are concemed that if FDA were to allow companies to change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar" on food labels, it would confuse consumers and mislead them into thinkingthat their food contains a different ingredient.
We urge you to follow FDA's science-basepdr ocessf or consumerp rotectiona nd to maintain the integrity of the agency's food nomenclature system so that consumers are able to readily identify food ingredients. Please carefully consider whether the effort to rebrand HFCS to "corn sugar" meets those standards.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. Please keep us informed of any agency actions on this matter.
U.S. Senator Michael B. Enzi
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson
U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
U.S. Senator David Vitter
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski
U.S. Senator James E. Risch
U.S. Senator John Barrasso, M.D.
U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu
U.S. Senator Jon Tester