Sweet talk

High fructose corn syrup has become a naughty phrase among health advocates, and the Corn Refiners Association wants to change it—to “corn sugar.” Linked to obesity and cancer and found in everything from soda and candy to cereal and bread, consumers have grown wary of high fructose corn syrup, and they’ve voted against it with their dollars. Corn refiners are losing money as a result, and some food products have gotten more expensive as manufacturers switch to cane or beet sweeteners. According to the Associated Press, the average American ate 35.7 pounds of HFCS last year, down 21 percent from 10 years before.

Now the CRA has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to let them change the name to “corn sugar.” The industry group says this will help provide consumers “clarity” about the sweetener, saying it more accurately reflects the source of the food as corn and its basic nature as a sugar.

Others call it rebranding. The AP quoted Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University: “They’re just trying to move away from the negative associations.”

Whether the FDA approves the name or not, the corn syrup industry is already using it in its marketing materials, including TV commercials and its online campaign, www.cornsugar.com.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association says that, while it wants more research, there currently is not enough evidence to restrict the use of high fructose corn syrup.