Companies, associations join HFCS lawsuit

by Jeff Gelski
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LOS ANGELES — Two trade associations and five more individual sugar companies have joined a lawsuit that claims a marketing campaign for high-fructose corn syrup is false and misleading in stating that HFCS is corn sugar. The Sugar Association and the American Sugar Cane League have joined the lawsuit as have American Sugar Refining, Amalgamated Sugar Co., Imperial Sugar Co., Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative and the U.S. Sugar Corp.

“The attempted name change is an intentional effort to deceive consumers and, most disingenuously, it’s being done under the guise of consumer clarity,” said John Sheptor, president and chief executive officer of Imperial Sugar Co. “We are taking a stand to challenge this marketing ploy for what it is.”

The Washington-based Corn Refiners Association, a defendant in the lawsuit, has said it stands by the message in the marketing campaign and the science behind the message. Other defendants include Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill, Corn Products International, Inc., Penford Products Co., Roquette America, Inc., and Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas, Inc.

The Corn Refiners Association on Sept. 14, 2010, petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow manufacturers the option of using “corn sugar” as an alternative name for high-fructose corn syrup.

Western Sugar Cooperative in Colorado, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Co. originally filed the lawsuit April 22 in a U.S. district court in Los Angeles. The lawsuit says a marketing campaign aims to change consumer perception of HFCS by equating it with sugar, especially after some food and beverage companies have substituted sugar for HFCS in their products because of consumer perception of HFCS. The lawsuit cites Internet advertising, exhibitions at professional organizations, TV commercials, print advertisements and the web site www.sweetsurprise.com.

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